High-stakes poker pro Susie Zhao saw herself as a “unicorn” in a male-dominated field — and flourished in her outsider role, amassing nearly a quarter-million dollars in winnings since 2009.
Zhao, 33, whose charred body was found July 13 in a parking lot near the Pontiac Lake Recreation Area in Oakland County, Michigan, said she was unlike her card-playing counterparts at professional poker events, where she raked in $224,671 since 2009, according to an online poker database.
“I prance like a unicorn in a sea of horses,” Zhao wrote in one of her Twitter profiles. “I proficiently play high stakes poker for a living. Its kinda weird because I’m a girl.”
Zhao had posted no tweets to that account, but maintained a separate profile linked from her Facebook page that included photos with other poker pros and her “zening out” ahead of World Series of Poker events.
Zhao’s second Twitter profile, which had 1,310 followers as of Friday, described her an “amateur dreamer” and a “knowledge seeker” who bounced between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Her last tweet was from October 2015.
“Channeling safari animals railing @WPTSA main event #Halloween,” Zhao posted.
Zhao, better known as “Susie Q” at a card table, was originally from Beijing, China, and attended a K-12 prep school in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, before studying psychology at Northwestern University, according to her Facebook profile.
She had recently moved back to Michigan from Los Angeles to “confront challenges in her personal life,” friends told reporters.
Zhao, according to her WSOP player profile, had a pet turtle named Ninja and boasted that she would “play anyone” in a high-stake games of rock, paper, scissors. In her last WSOP event in 2017, Zhao took home $18,693 in winnings, finishing in 697th place, her profile shows.
Since 2009, she won $187,441 at WSOP events, including a $73,805 windfall at the 43rd annual World Series of Poker main event in Las Vegas, where she finished in 90th place.
Friends and loved ones started leaving messages Thursday on Zhao’s Facebook profile, which had been largely inactive. She last posted in 2017 – a smiling selfie.
“R.I.P. Susie,” one message read. “There are people who care and looking for your justice!”
Another person said they hope police in Michigan “hunt” down the “coward” responsible for her death, which is being investigated as a homicide, The Oakland Press reports.
A medical examiner has yet to release any information on Zhao’s cause of death, the newspaper reports.
Anyone who may have seen her between July 11 and July 13 is asked to call White Lake Township police at (248) 698-4404, ext. 2381.
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