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Death of High-Stakes Female Poker Player Is a Mystery

FBI investigating killing of Susie 'Q' Zhao in Michigan
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 27, 2020 12:30 PM CDT
Updated Aug 1, 2020 9:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – Her name was Susie Zhou, but those who follow high-stakes poker would know her better as "Susie Q." The body of the 33-year-old was found outside a Michigan park last month, and now the FBI has joined the homicide investigation. Coverage:

  • Discovery: Zhou's burned body was found July 13 in a parking area near the Pontiac Lake Recreation Area outside Detroit, reports WDIV, which adds there was no car at the scene. Police in White Lake Township went public with the identification last week in the hope of getting leads. They also called in the FBI to help. The cause of death has not been revealed.
  • Who: Zhou was one of the few women to compete on the World Poker Tour, which airs on Fox Sports Net, per Deadline. She had nearly $225,000 in tournament winnings since 2010 and "several deep runs" in World Series of Poker events, per Casino.org.

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  • Motive? Police aren't saying much as the investigation unfolds. "Obviously when you’re dealing with that type of profession you have potential of owing debt, and those are things that we’re looking into," says a White Lake detective.
  • Last seen: Zhao was last seen by her mother about 5:30pm July 12, and police think she was killed around midnight or later that night. Zhao was born in Beijing but grew up in Michigan's Waterford Township, near White Lake. She had lived in Los Angeles for the last decade or so but moved back to Michigan recently to "confront challenges in her personal life," per WXYZ-TV.
  • 2 quotes: "It's hard to picture her having enemies," a former roommate tells WXYZ. And fellow player Bart Hanson says this: "She was a really 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. I never would have thought anyone would have wanted to do anything to her.”
  • In her words: "I prance like a unicorn in a sea of horses," Zhao had written on her Twitter bio. "I proficiently play high-stakes poker for a living. It’s kinda weird because I’m a girl."
(Read more poker stories.)

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