British Aristocrat George Cottrell Drops $20M in Montenegro Poker Game

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The excitement in the room was at fever pitch as George Cottrell, a British aristocrat of notorious repute, staked his fortune in a high-roller poker game at the premiere venue of Maestral Casino in the alluring city of Budva, Montenegro.

As reported at the time, he was playing against a wide spectrum of opponents including Chinese tycoons, Hollywood A-listers and a few of the globe’s top poker professionals. This private game was part of the glamorous Triton Poker Series, a gathering of the crème de la crème of poker aficionados, facilitated by Paul Phua, a former junket operator with his own legal fiascos in the US and beyond.

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Fellow British poker enthusiast and entrepreneur Rob Yong, who was participating in the Triton events, rhymed about the exhilarating cash games in a tweet that has since disappeared into the ether. In it, he expressed his awe at the awe-inspiring stakes, saying, “$200k+ just to see the flop.”

Despite the colossal $20 million loss, Cottrell remained nonchalant. Onlookers report him relishing the thrill of the game up until the morning twilight, not leaving the table until 7am.

It begs the question, who really is George Cottrell?

Son of Fiona Watson, a former model and one-time partner to King Charles, and the grandson of the third Baron Manton, Rupert Watson, Cottrell was born into wealth and status. Starting out as a banker, he turned heads with his dalliances with reality show celebrities. Later, he found himself advising Nigel Farage, the UK Independence Party leader, and played a significant role in the Brexit campaign of June 2016.

Later that same year, however, Cottrell’s world took a perilous turn when he found himself entangled in a web of his own making. Post his rendezvous with destiny at the Republican National Convention, where he watched Donald Trump accept the party’s presidential nomination, he was arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport as he tried to make his way back to the UK.

Cottrell’s past exploits as an offshore investment expert had lured two undercover FBI agents masquerading as drug dealers on the dark web. The ambitious young aristocrat had planned to embezzle the money he was supposed to launder for them. Going so far as to demand $80,000 in bitcoin from the agents for his silence, Cottrell ended up charged with 21 felonies.

Eventually, Cottrell pleaded guilty to a charge of wire fraud and, after serving eight months in federal prison, was released.

In recent years, there have been rumors linking Cottrell to the rise of the digital currency trade in Montenegro. In 2020, a gambling venue in the coastal town of Tivat, equipped with gambling machines and a ‘cryptomat,’ was raided by National authorities. But Cottrell, through his lawyer, dismissed any connections to the establishment or the crypto industry.

His latest financial misadventure, however, stands as an undeniable testament to his flamboyant lifestyle and unflinching love for high stakes. As the echoes of his $20 million loss ripple through Montenegro all the way to the corridors of power in the UK, only time will tell what’s next for George Cottrell.