British Aristocrat Loses $20M in Suspense-Filled High-Stakes Poker Game

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In a narrative filled with intrigue and suspense fit for a novel, a British aristocrat with a past tainted by wire fraud conviction in the United States reportedly lost a staggering $20 million at a high-stakes cash game last week. The tale centers around George Cottrell, the man who once served time in a federal prison in 2016 for his nefarious endeavours on the dark web which included offering money-laundering services and later attempting to blackmail two FBI agents disguised as drug dealers.

The scene of the $20 million loss was set at the opulent Maestral Casino in Budva, Montenegro. Cottrell, a 30-year-old, was said to be amongst the high-riders of the poker world, playing a private game with Chinese billionaires, Hollywood celebrities, and a select group of the world’s best high roller poker artists. The game was part of the Triton Poker Series, a prestigious festival for elite players. The series was the brainchild of former-junket operator Paul Phua, a man unintimidated by his own fair share of run-ins with the law in the United States and beyond.

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According to a tweet from British poker enthusiast and businessman Rob Yong, who was present at the Triton events, the game was “wild” and “the big game way too big 4 me here, $200k + just to see the flop.”

Despite experiencing losses that would make most hearts skip a beat, it seems Cottrell took the punch with grace, the Daily Mail source reported. As the commentator described, “Despite George losing so much money, he appeared to be enjoying himself and did not step away from the table until 7am. By that point he was $20 million down.”

Digging into Cottrell’s background, one discovers a tapestry woven from threads of privilege and power. His mother, Fiona Watson, is a former model who was once romantically linked to King Charles. Fiona is the offspring of Rupert Watson, the third Baron Manton. Into this high society George Cottrell was born, destined for a life punctuated by glamour and scandal. Cottrell carved himself a lucrative career as a banker, dated reality TV stars, and later provided his services as an advisor to Nigel Farage—the charismatic leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) known for drumming up support for Brexit.

The arrest of Cottrell by federal authorities occurred in July 2016 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, shortly after he had watched Donald Trump accept his party’s presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention alongside Farage. Cottrell’s arrest hinged on the past events where he offered his services to undercover FBI agents posing as drug dealers, facilitating offshore investments and money laundering. He plotted to keep the money for himself rather than launder it, a confession outlined in his plea agreement.

Initially slapped with a whopping 21 felony charges—including conspiracy to commit money laundering, wire fraud, blackmail, and extortion—Cottrell eventually agreed to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud and served an eight-month stint in prison.

The narrative of George Cottrell’s tumultuous life took another interesting turn last June when authorities in Montenegro raided a bar in Tivat with gambling machines and a “cryptomat,” used for trading digital currencies. While rumors buzzed about Cottrell’s involvement in the venue, his legal counsel strongly refuted any connection between him and the now controversial establishment.