“Naked Bandit” Discusses Mental Health 5 Years After Infamous WSOP Incident

Last Updated on May 28, 2024 Author:Juan Blanco
Kenneth Strauss


  • In 2019, Ken Strauss was disqualified from the WSOP Main Event for throwing his shoes at a dealer and pulling down his pants.
  • The “Naked Bandit”, who was experiencing a psychotic break, had similar incidents at other casinos in Vegas, which led to his arrest. 
  • Strauss was sentenced to probation and started his road to recovery. 

Five years ago, the world of poker witnessed one of the most infamous incidents in the history of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event

On Day 1c, at Table #317 in the Rio’s Pavilion Yellow section located on Level 2, Kenneth Strauss, who was later nicknamed “The Naked Bandit”, took everyone by surprise when he took his shoes off, threw them at the dealer, then pulled his pants down. 

He was disqualified for his gestures, but this didn’t put an end to his strange behavior at the time.

Between July 24 and July 27, Strauss, who was 45 years old at the time, recorded a similar string of disturbing incidents at several other casinos in Las Vegas. 

The list included Red Rock, The Venetian, ARIA, and Trump International Hotel, where he was eventually put under arrest.

Charged with Terroristic Threats

Strauss, who had experienced a sort of psychotic break, was charged with terroristic threats but was deemed incompetent to stand trial. 

After receiving treatment, he made a deal with the prosecutors who sentenced him to probation. 

According to District Judge Mary Kay Holthus’ ruling, Strauss was supposed to undergo mental health treatment

He was also forbidden to enter Clark County and get in touch with Las Vegas casinos for the following two years.

“I Just Truly Am Sorry and I’m Doing Much Better Right Now.”

This prompted Strauss to start his recovery. In a recent interview with PokerNews on the Mental Health Awareness Month topic, the Pennsylvanian called 2019 “a challenging year”, mentioning the “terrible event” at the Rio and apologizing “to the WSOP, the hotels, the casinos in Las Vegas, and to the non-poker people that were affected” by his actions. 

Strauss said he takes “full responsibility and accountability for what happened” and that he ultimately accepts the consequences, “not just legally but socially for what happened as well”. 

The player also said he was truly sorry and that he was “doing much better right now”.

Speaking about what happened five years ago, he explained that a mix of things had led to his infamous actions. 

He first mentioned the fact that he had failed to take good care of his health because of his busy schedule attending over 300 sporting events, poker tournaments, and entertainment events a year. 

Another triggering factor was the fact that his Pittsburg fame in the media made him “addicted to that lifestyle” and he “just kept wanting to do more and more and more” which ultimately caused his burnout. 

He also mentioned the mass shooting that took place at his childhood synagogue in 2018, which he didn’t “really take too well” and which got him “really angry”.

In mid-June 2019, he was “just a hot mess”, as he described himself, admitting he should have never gone to Vegas “to begin with”.

During the pandemic, Strauss’ mental state was also affected. From March 2020 until April 2021 he was hospitalized on three occasions.

Nothing as bad as what happened in Vegas”, he explained, adding that, after receiving probation, he “went through that process and had a great therapist through that”.

Asked about a potential comeback, Strauss said “if there’s a way to get reinstated, I’m all for it” but, for the time being, he is still banned from the WSOP, Caesars, and MGM properties, and possibly Station properties. 

Currently, Strauss appears to be on the right track, having turned his mental health into his number one priority. “I just want to say I’m doing 100x better”, he added.  

Juan Blanco

Juan Blanco


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Juan es uno de nuestros redactores principales de Póker de nuestra página en español para usuarios tanto de España como de Latinoamérica. De la misma manera, colabora con nuestra web en inglés, redactando diferentes noticias relacionadas con el sector del póker para lectores de Estados Unidos, Reino Unido, Canadá o Australia.

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