Los Angeles pro poker player found dead and burned in metro Detroit

July 25, 2020, 4:31 PM

"I prance like a unicorn in a sea of horses," Zhao's Twitter bio said, noting her field is dominated by men. (Photo: Facebook)

A burned body found in an Oakland County park has been identified as competitive poker player Susie Zhao, reports. 

Known in the gambling world as Susie Q, the 33-year-old was discovered dead near Pontiac Lake Recreation Area in White Lake Township on July 13. Police are treating the case as a homicide.

According to, Zhao had returned home to Michigan to confront what friends said were "challenges in her personal life.”

Born in Beijing, Zhao spent her childhood in Waterford Township, next to White Lake Township. She graduated with a degree in psychology from Northwestern University before moving to California.

Zhao had been living for a decade in Los Angeles, where she was a fixture in the high-stakes cash game scene ... Zhao played tournaments, too, amassing $224,671 in earnings since 2010, according to the Hendon Mob database, which tracks live tournament winnings. This included deep runs in several World Series of Poker main events in Las Vegas.

“She was a free spirit in the truest sense. She played by her own rules, followed her dreams,” friends said at a police press conference appealing for information. “Everybody loved her. We don’t ever remember her falling out with anybody.”

Police reportedly said her killing could be related to her gambling or to somebody local. Since returning home, she'd been playing poker in Waterford.

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