Charred body of professional poker player found in Michigan 

Charred body of professional Las Vegas poker player Susie Zhao, 33, is found in remote Michigan parking lot after she moved back in with her parents to 'confront challenges in her personal life'The ba

Charred body of professional poker player  found in Michigan 

Charred body of professional Las Vegas poker player Susie Zhao, 33, is found in remote Michigan parking lot after she moved back in with her parents to 'confront challenges in her personal life'

  • The badly burned body of professional poker player Susie Zhao, 33, was found in a remote parking lot in Michigan on July 13
  • The remains of the high-stakes player were identified this week as police search for any information around her death
  • Friends have called Zhao a 'national talent' on the competitive poker circuit
  • She was last seen by her mother the evening before her body was found 
  • Zhao had only recently moved back to live with her parents in Michigan to 'confront challenges in her personal life'
  • It is not known if she was reported missing before she was found and the official cause of death has not been released 
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The charred remains of a professional poker player have been discovered in a remote, Michigan parking lot, 

Susie Zhao, 33, was described as a 'national talent' on the competitive poker circuit, where she was known as 'Susie Q' and would easily take home prizes of tens of thousands of dollars. She is believed to have won $224,671 over her career.

She had lived in between Los Angeles and Las Vegas but friends told WXYZ she had recently moved back to live with her parents in Michigan to 'confront challenges in her personal life'. 

Zhao was last seen by her mother on July 12 at around 5.30pm. Her badly burned body was found by a local resident in the wooded area at 8:30am on July 13 in a parking lot near the Pontiac Lake Recreation Area, on the outskirts of Detroit, according to the White Lake Township Police Department.  

Police believe it is likely she died some time after 11:45pm the previous night, and believe her high stakes job could be a motive. They are also investigating whether her killer may besomebody she met locally and recently. 

'You have to determine whether or not this is a coverup, or this may be some sort of retaliatory incident because of her profession,' said Detective Chris Hild, White Lake Township Police. The FBI has now joined the investigation into her death. 

But friends and family said they could not imagine the 'gentle' high-stakes poker player had any enemies. 

Michigan police identified a body found a week ago in a remote parking lot as that of poker player Susie Zhao, 33

Michigan police identified a body found a week ago in a remote parking lot as that of poker player Susie Zhao, 33


Zhao has been described as a national talent in the competitive poker circuit. She had competitive success as a poker player and is reported to have won $224,671 in tournament cashes, including  $73,000 at the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event

Zhao has been described as a national talent in the competitive poker circuit. She had competitive success as a poker player and is reported to have won $224,671 in tournament cashes, including  $73,000 at the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event

Police identified her remains this week, according to The Oakland Press, but the official cause of death has not yet been released. 

It is not known if she had been reported missing before her remains were found and identified.   

According to the New York Post, an autopsy and toxicology results from the Oakland County Medical Examiner are pending. 

A motive for her death is also still unclear.  

She had only returned to Michigan from Los Angeles on June 9 after spending a decade in California. 

'Friends said she had kept details of her life private.  

Zhao had won tens of thousands of dollars throughout her career as a professional poker player as she jetted between tournaments in Vegas and Los Angeles. 

She began to play in high school before moving on to high-stake games after college. 

Zhao had won tens of thousands of dollars throughout her career as a professional poker player as she jetted between tournaments in Vegas and Los Angeles. She began to play in high school before moving on to high-stake games after college

Zhao had won tens of thousands of dollars throughout her career as a professional poker player as she jetted between tournaments in Vegas and Los Angeles. She began to play in high school before moving on to high-stake games after college

The charred remains of professional poker player Susie Zhao, 33, were found on July 13

The charred remains of professional poker player Susie Zhao, 33, were found on July 13

According to PokerNews.com, one of her prizes included more than $73,000 at the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event.   

'She was the freest spirit, in the truest sense,' friend Meredith Rogowski said at a press conference, according to WCAX. 'She played by her own rules. She followed her dreams, absolutely brilliant.'

Zhao has been described as an 'excellent player' by her fellow poker players who say they are 'heartbroken' to learn of her death. 

They said she was a national talent in the competitive poker circuit. 

Casino.org reports she was known to be a regular player at Commerce and Hollywood Park in Los Angeles and appeared from time-to-time on the original poker online stream Live at the Bike from the in Bell Gardens.

Yet despite this, they added that the move back to Michigan had been driven by her no longer being able to afford rent in Los Angeles, putting an end to her city-hopping lifestyle and placing a hold on her poker career.  

Zhao had lived in between Los Angeles and Las Vegas but friends said she recently moved back to live with her parents in Michigan to 'confront challenges in her personal life'

Zhao had lived in between Los Angeles and Las Vegas but friends said she recently moved back to live with her parents in Michigan to 'confront challenges in her personal life'

'She really was an excellent player. One of the best in LA at the level we played at the Commerce Casino and it’s the biggest poker room in the world,' fellow competitor and friend, Bart Hanson, told WXYZ.

'I never would have thought anyone would’ve wanted to do anything to her.

'She had such a great attitude and so much spirit. It's just awful.' 

However, he adds that he feels it's unlikely that her poker career played any role in her death.  

"It's hard to picture her having enemies,' her former roommate Yuval Bronshtein  said adding that he was 'surprised, confused, and saddened' by her death. 

'She was one of the bubbliest and most vivacious opponents I've ever had,' wrote fellow poker player Clayton Fletcher.

'She was a very strong player who also liked to have fun at the table. Do you remember her from our Day Five in 2015, @jeffplatt? I'm heartbroken reading this. RIP Suzie.'

According to WXYZ, Zhao was originally from Beijing, China. 

Her Facebook page, where she last posted in 2017, states she attended Bloomfield Hills’ Cranbrook Kingswood School and went on to study psychology at Northwestern University.  

She last posted to her Twitter account in 2015.  

'Professional poker player / amature dreamer. Knowledge seeker / adventurer / Littlehippie @ heart. Los Angeles / Las Vegas / Just Lost,' her bio reads. 

'My mental vision of Susie Zhao is a happy girl, holding a big plate of food and smiling,'  Bronshtein added of his friend. 

'That's what I'll remember her as.' 

The FBI is now involved in the investigation as police hunt for information around her death.

Zhao has been described as an 'excellent player' by her fellow poker players who say they are 'heartbroken' to learn of her death. They said she was a national talent in the competitive poker circuit

Zhao has been described as an 'excellent player' by her fellow poker players who say they are 'heartbroken' to learn of her death. They said she was a national talent in the competitive poker circuit

Despite her success, friends said the move back to Michigan had been driven by her no longer being able to afford rent in Los Angeles, putting an end to her city-hopping lifestyle and placing a hold on her poker career

Despite her success, friends said the move back to Michigan had been driven by her no longer being able to afford rent in Los Angeles, putting an end to her city-hopping lifestyle and placing a hold on her poker career

They are said to be searching cell phone records to piece together the last few days of her life.  

'The White Lake Twnsp Police Department has been investigating a mysterious death of a female subject who was badly burned,' police said in a statement. 

'The body was discovered at a state land parking area on Maceday Lake Road and Cross Road within Two Lake Township on July 13, 2020, at 8.05am.'

They are asking anyone who may have seen the 33-year-old from July 11, the day before she was last seen, until the day her body was found to contact them.   

Cops urge anyone who may have seen Zhao between July 11 and 13 or has any information related to the investigation to call Detective Lt. Christopher Hild at 248-698-4404, ext. 2381.

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