A judge in New York has granted Amnon Filippi permission to play in this year’s World Series of Poker event in Las Vegas while he awaits trial for growing and distributing marijuana.
Judge Ronnie Abrams of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York gave Filippi permission to attend the event on restrictive bail conditions to allow the poker pro to continue to earn a living.
Filippi was arrested last October, along with two other people, for allegedly growing over 100 marijuana plants in a warehouse in the Bronx. The player, who goes by the nickname “Guts”, was charged with felony conspiracy, and released on a $250,000 personal recognizance bond.
Following his arrest, he was forced to surrender his passport by the court, and his travel was restricted to the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. He was also outfitted with an electronic monitoring bracelet to make sure he didn’t try to flee.
However, a few weeks later, Abrams gave Filippi permission to undertake a ten day trip to the Borgata in Atlantic City and another two week trip in December to play in tournaments in Las Vegas.
Both times, Filippi’s bracelet was removed and replaced at the appointed time, allowing him to continue to play in poker tournaments across the country, including several World Poker Tour stops in early 2013. This has now been extended to give him permission to travel to Las Vegas for the 44th annual WSOP – an event many consider the biggest poker tour in the world.
Prosecutors agreed with his attorney’s request not to deny the 43-year-old his right to go to “work”, reports New York Daily News.
“This is his job. This is how he earns a living,” his lawyer, Jeremy Schneider, told the Daily News. “Those are the places he works.”
Filippi is currently ranked #468 in the Global Poker Index which lists his career winnings at $3 million, which includes the championship of the 2005 Bellagio Cup. He also finished at number four in 2007’s $50,000 WSOP H.O.R.S.E. World Championship and came second at the 2009 World Poker Tour Foxwoods Poker Classic.
However, since his arrest in October, Filippi has only one cash to his credit in a preliminary event at the L. A. Poker Classic in February – a far cry from the 2012’s eight tournament cashes he won, which include five at the 2012 WSOP, culminating with a 39th place finish in the $10,000 WSOP Championship Event.
Schneider said that he had earned the right to attend WSOP because, “whenever the probation person wants him to check in, he checks in. He’s never missed an appointment.”
“He’s done everything he’s supposed to,” added Schneider.
Filippi, who usually supports a trademark New York Yankees baseball cap, seems to have had a good start to his WSOP experience. In a Twitter post relaying his experience at the event on Thursday, he said: “Had KK three hands in a row, what’s the true odds of that to happen.”
However, that didn’t lead to the outcome he expected.
“Lost vs aa the 1st time-1750. Called by bb on 2nd he folded flop n got a walk on the 3rd pair. Lol kk 3x in a row-1325 result,” he said in a follow-up Tweet a short while later.
Filippi will be hoping his luck will hold out when he returns to New York for his trial, where he could face jail time if convicted.
WSOP started in May and will run through until July.