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Poker's Dennis Blieden Pleads GUILTY: $22M+ Stolen

Black Money Bag

Former digital marketing executive and professional poker player Dennis Blieden has plead guilty to charges of embezzling from his employer. Blieden, 30, worked for StyleHaul Inc., a company that represents social media influencers via Instagram and YouTube, and he admitted that he had embezzled over $22 million from his employer. That money was then used to fund poker, cryptocurrency gambling, and personal expenses.

Dennis Blieden Embezzlement Case

Abuse of Authority Regarding Company Money


Between October 2015 and March 2019, Blieden operated as the controller and vice president of accounting and finance for StyleHaul Inc. While initially basing itself out of Hollywood, California, the business revealed plans to relocate to London earlier this year. However, in May, the organization opted to shut down entirely.

It's not known exactly what role, if any, Dennis Blieden's wrongdoing played in this decision. During his time with the company, Blieden had control over its bank accounts, which is where he took his opportunity to wire the enterprise's money to himself in a severe abuse of authority.

Blieden, who previously resided in Santa Monica, but now lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, plead guilty to one count of wire fraud and another of aggravated identity theft as announced by the Department of Justice on Nov. 22.

In order to keep his scheme a secret for so long, he made fraudulent entries into the accounting records of StyleHaul. These entries were marked as authorized payments of money due to clients of the company. As an additional part of the elaborate scheme, he created his own wire transfer letters that had the appearance of being sent by Western Union. These fictitious letters had been designed so as to make it look like wire transfers from StyleHaul were paying money that it supposedly owed to clients.

At the same time, Blieden made false statements that wire transfers sent to his own bank account from StyleHaul were actually “equity” draws, which were something that the company owed to him, according to court documents.

A completely made-up lease was also created by Blieden in May of 2018, which was for the rental of a condominium in Rosarito Beach, Mexico. That lease also featured a forged signature of an executive from StyleHaul according to the plea agreement. He admitted to transferring $230,000 of StyleHaul’s funds for the sole purpose of acquiring the condo, and he falsely stated that the unit was being rented for business purposes for the company’s employees and clients. It is this which represents the aggravated identity theft charge.

Blieden Uses Money for Poker, Cryptos

BTC Poker

Blieden is moderately well-known on the poker scene with more than $1 million in live tournament earnings to his credit. He currently ranks 19th on the Ohio All Time Money List. Blieden's most notable tourney cash came in the $9,500 + $500 February 2018 WPT Los Angeles Poker Classic Championship where he triumphed over a field of 493 to take home the $1 million top prize.

Dennis BliedenDennis Blieden Playing Poker

There is little doubt that much of the money that he embezzled from StyleHaul was utilized for the entry of such major poker tournaments. In addition, he purchased cryptocurrency with the money, which was then used at various Bitcoin online poker rooms.

According to court documents, a total of $8,473,734 was transferred to Blieden’s cryptocurrency accounts while a further $1.2 million was handed out in personal checks to poker players. Additionally, $1.1 million was used in order to pay off credit card bills, and all of those funds were stolen from his employer.

Blieden's Deception Catches up With Him


It was on Feb. 21 and 22 this year that Blieden entered himself into two separate poker tournaments with astronomical buyins of $52,000 and $103,000 at the 2019 U.S. Poker Open at the Aria in Las Vegas. However, fortune went against him as he busted early in both events and did not receive any prizes. This was perhaps an indication that his luck had finally turned against him.

In March, Dennis Blieden was dismissed from his position with StyleHaul. He continued playing poker, scoring a 17th place finish, good for $35,000, in the $10,000 + $300 No Limit Hold’em – MILLIONS Vegas tournament, hosted by PartyPoker.

On July 11, the Department of Justice revealed that Dennis Blieden had been arrested following a grand jury indictment. He was charged with 11 wire fraud charges, one count of aggravated identity theft, and two forfeiture counts.

Had he been convicted on all of these initial charges raised against him, Dennis' maximum sentence could have been more than 200 years. However, the penalties attached to the two charges for which he actually plead guilty amount to no more than 22 years in prison. As things stand at the moment, Blieden’s sentence hearing is scheduled to occur on Mar. 20, 2020.

Similarities with Talon White Case

Blue Information BTN

Although Blieden’s case is quite specific to him as far as the elaborate scheme he had worked out is concerned, there are similarities with the situation of Talon White. This saw the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) receive directions from Judge Anna Brown of the State of Oregon to withhold over $4.8 million in cash, cryptocurrency, and real estate, which was seized from the aforementioned Mr. White, also a professional poker player, in 2018.

While his identity was first kept a secret by news outlets, court filings revealed it to be White who was the alleged culprit. He saw many of his assets in Oregon taken into the possession of the authorities.

Talon WhiteTalon White Was Also Caught in Finance-Related Shenanigans

Similar to Blieden, White had purchased a great deal of cryptocurrency with a Coinbase account of his found to be holding Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Bitcoin Cash. A total of more than half a million dollars' worth of cryptocurrency was seized by the authorities, before the government would later file to seize White’s home based in Newport, Oregon. The house had been purchased for $336,000 in January of 2017.

The two main differences between these cases, though, is firstly that White was using online streaming services in order to sell copyrighted content, like pirated television shows and movies, which is what led to the seizure of his assets. Secondly, White's assets were frozen even before he was charged with a crime, probably in an effort to get him to confess to his misdeeds, whereas there's no indication that anything like this happened in the Blieden case.

If You’re Going to Engage in US Poker, Do It Legally


There are various online poker rooms that service the United States, and many of them transact with the kinds of crypto assets that Dennis Blieden was apparently a fan of. It's important to remember though that merely converting your money into crypto-currency doesn't magically launder it without a trace, and it won't erase any culpability you hold with respect to how the funds were acquired in the first place.

However, once you have obtained crypto coins legitimately, using your own legal resources, there's nothing holding you back from dabbling in a few online card games with your digital holdings. For a rundown of where to go, check out our list of the best Bitcoin poker sites online. For those of you who are interested, we have education materials so that you can learn exactly how online poker is legal to play.