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Sick BURN: FL Man Kills Poker Foe Over $3,500 Loss

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A 21-year-old man from Hudson in Pasco County, Florida, is facing a first-degree murder charge following reports that he set fire to his poker opponent after losing thousands of dollars to him. Michael Psilakis is said to have grown so angry after losing his money that his retaliation came in the form of burning the victim’s car while he was still inside it. Supposedly, the two men were acquaintances who started the night out playing a friendly game of cards with one another, which saw Psilakis lose $3,500 over a couple of sessions.

Florida Car Burning Killing

An Investigation into a Missing Man

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The murdered man was reported missing by his mother on Oct. 30. She said that she hadn’t seen her son in several days. His identity cannot be revealed due to the “Marsy’s Law” victim protection measures that were added last year to the Florida Constitution. However, we have learned that the deceased was a 31-year-old father of four.

Witnesses said that they had last seen him in a rented Ford Taurus with Psilakis, leading to a Pasco County Sheriff deputy interviewing the alleged criminal. During that interview, Psilakis reportedly said that the victim had given him a ride to his mother’s house on the evening of Oct. 30. During that same interview, the deputy noted blood soaking through the sock of Psilakis who proceeded to reveal a large burn blister on his shin. This, he said, was the result of his girlfriend throwing hot oil at him during a fight.

Another witness informed deputies that Psilakis had played cards with the victim on Oct. 29. Though there are any number of live and online poker sites for Florida's citizens to play at, this game took place in a private, unregulated game.

Psilakis initially lost $1,000 to his opponent, which reportedly upset him greatly. It was then stated, by the same witness, that he had been texted by Psilakis with the message saying that the two of them were about to play cards once more. That same night, he lost another $2,500 to the victim, leading to Psilakis asking the witness whether or not he should kill his poker opponent.

The witness reportedly told him not to murder his opponent. Later on, Psilakis called him on the telephone to say that he was still considering killing the other player.

Location of Hudson, FloridaLocation of Hudson in Pasco County, Florida

Body Found

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On Nov. 1, the victim’s body was found within the ruins of a car although reports state that the corpse was burned beyond recognition. This grisly discovery was made by construction workers near Key Vista Nature Park, and they reported it to the police.

Suspect Detained at Mother's House

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The same day that the body was found, Cordelia Psilakis, the mother of Michael Psilakis, contacted police because she noted an unusual amount of blood inside her garage. While they were interviewing her, Michael coincidentally happened to call her, and she allowed the authorities to record the call.

When his mother asked about the burns on his leg, he claimed that he had set himself alight whilst refueling his car, contradicting his earlier story about sustaining the injury during a domestic dispute. Michael then asked his mother to corroborate his story.

Shortly thereafter, Michael Psilakis arrived at his mother's house driving a stolen vehicle with a stolen gun inside it. This prompted police to arrest him for possessing an illegal firearm. The sheriff’s office claims that Psilakis fought with deputies when they tried arresting him, and he struggled to run away after being handcuffed.

In addition to firearms offenses, Psilakis was initially charged with theft of a vehicle, battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, and escape. Several days later, a premeditated murder charge was brought against him.

A Massive Trail of Evidence

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Beyond the evidence already described, there were further clues tying Michael Psilakis to the suspicious death.

A search through his cell phone browser history proved most illuminating. There, it was revealed that he had searched for such phrases as “can u shoot through a seat” and “can a bullet go through seat.” Psilakis had also researched how to treat burns on the same cell phone.

One other witness, Psilakis' girlfriend, came forward and said that she had received a text message from Psilakis on Oct. 30 at 10 p.m., stating: “I just got 3 degree burn.” Not only that, but she found $20,000 in a safe that Psilakis used whilst a pair of bloody underwear turned up in her washing machine as well.

Forensic analysis of the stolen handgun in Psilakis' possession and its bullets later proved that they matched ones that had been found in the front seat of the burned out car.

Michael PsilakisMugshot of Michael Psilakis

Psilakis Held Without Bond

No Money

Psilakis is currently being held at the Land o’ Lakes Detention Center without bond. This was not his first run-in with the law; arrest records show that Psilakis was brought in on a number of misdemeanor and felony charges every year since 2016.

Court documents show that on Nov. 13, Psilakis entered a plea of not guilty to the murder charge. He has indicated that he wants the court to appoint a public defender for him.

His mother recently spoke to Bay News 9, saying:

I think it's best for the people who have been hurt and have lost a loved one and for my family, being hurt because we lost a loved one, that everything just kind of goes through the courses at this point.

Mrs. Psilakis declined to comment any further on the matter, citing the ongoing investigation as her reason why.

Play Poker in Florida…the Safe Way

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This entire sad story is a reflection of the risks people run when they play for significant money in unlicensed, private games. Unless you know the other participants very well, there's always the chance that you'll be targeted either by cheaters or by criminals.

Still, it can be tempting to try to find underground games if there are no casinos or cardrooms near your home. Fortunately, there's an alternative: offshore poker sites. If anyone online gets angry at you for beating them fair and square, they really have little recourse because they won't know who you are or where you reside.

Florida's criminal statutes have never been used to go after online poker players. And there are no federal laws that target individuals enjoying a few poker games on their PCs either.

We have prepared a guide to the very best poker sites for Floridians to sign up to. If you live in another part of the country, then our USA internet poker page may be of interest to you instead.