I’m a professional poker player and won an event once for $286,000. So not an obscene amount of money, but more than your typical customer probably walks in and deposits in cash. Which, btw, if you ever come across a quarter million in cash, It’s probably not the brightest idea to just walk into your local bank branch, unannounced, and start handing them stacks of hundreds wrapped up in $10,000 bundles.This was also directly following the big 3 U.S. poker sites facing indictment and being shut down in the U.S. So claiming online gambling winnings was not a good idea given the climate.I entered the bank and approached an open teller’s window, unzipped my Columbia House duffle bag—which had been given to me as a free gift for being suckered into joining their movie club almost a decade before. As I started stacking the money I stacked 7 packs of $10,000 and opened one up as they were also denominated in stacks of $1000 and separated in the middle by a $5,000 band. I told the teller that I’d like to wire $75,000 to the Bellagio Hotel and Casino —I was headed to Vegas that weekend to play in some high stakes games which were running—and proceeded to pull out the necessary information to wire the money. I put the $5,000 on top and took the other $5000 and stuck it in my sport coat pocket so I’d have some walking around money for when I first arrived in Vegas, before I was able to get to the cage to collect my wire.I had lived in Vegas for a number of years, and it wasn’t unheard of for someone to win an amount like this and have it paid out in cash. Uncommon? A little. But certainly not unheard of. Except I wasn’t in Vegas, I was in a local branch in the suburbs of Kansas City. Where apparently a sub 30 year old doesn’t walk in very often with near $300,000 in cash bundled up in a old, blue, Columbia House duffel bag for a deposit.She instantly asked, “Where did you get all this money?” And then, “That’s a lot to send to a casino to gamble with.”To which I thought, “That’s none of your f**king business.”She must have been able to read the disdain on my face as she instantly excused herself and apologized. A couple minutes later when I had the cash all stacked up on the ledge of the teller window with the 75K off to the side and a slip filled out with the information for wiring the money to the Bellagio main cage, a man approached in a suit and tie and asked if I’d like a private room. I told him I didn’t really need one, that the money was all there, had already been counted, and was ready for deposit. I looked around now to notice several bank employees and customers staring at me but quickly looking away and going back to their business as they saw me looking around the bank.Apparently they don’t just take your word for it when you tell them how much it is, even when packaged up in nice, neat, 10K stacks and 50K bundles. The man in the suit and tie introduced himself as the branch manager and informed me that the money would have to be ran through the machine to be counted and to verify none of the bills were counterfeit. He asked me if I wouldn’t mind coming back to his office and waiting where they could discuss some deposit options with me and then offered me some coffee or something to drink as he motioned with his arms the direction to his office.He too asked me where I had gotten the money, and I was very careful not to mention anything about gambling or playing poker as I knew what an apprehensive issue it was in the financial industry at the time. The Wire Act didn’t prevent playing poker online, exactly, it prevented financial institutions from processing gambling transactions. And the Big Three poker sites in the U.S. hadn’t been shut down with their owners indicted for offering poker online, they had been shut down with the owners indicted for purchasing a bank in Utah where they processed the illegal transactions fraudulently under phony business names. So I told him I’d obtained it selling drugs with a smirk.He didn’t find it as funny as I did so I quickly told him I was kidding, then vaguely told him that I had gotten the money from a friend I had a business interest with, and if he checked my account history he would see that large wires and cash deposits like this weren’t extremely uncommon. He then asked me why I was wiring 75K to Bellagio, and I again smiled and told him it was none of their business and asked if they wanted to continue to do business together or not. He seemed a bit jolted by my standoffish attitude but also seemed to acknowledge that there wasn’t anything illegal about wiring the money to the Bellagio, in fact, Bank of America (a branch of which we currently resided), had a specific account to account transfer option that allowed money to be transferred internally, instantly between any BoA account holder and MGM property.After a brief bit of silence I broke up his dumbfounded look by saying, “look man, are you going to count the money and verify it or not. I’m kinda busy today.” He informed me that the money had been counted and was actually $900 dollars long of $281,000, which I’d put 5K in my pocket of the original $286,000 and to this day scratch my head wondering where/how that extra 900 found its way in there.He seemed to sense I was perplexed by the previous accounting error and said, “looks like you don’t need to go to Vegas, you’re getting lucky already.”I smiled and he informed me they would have to fill out all the necessary tax and legal compliance paperwork including a suspicious activity report (SAR) with FinCen.That was in 2022 and I’ve never heard anything from FinCen. Though I do pay my taxes as required by law and do claim professional gambler as my form of employment. I suspect they have a stack of SAR’s somewhere at FinCen on me that they’ve investigated a few times before as I’ve used some creative ways to repatriate gambling winnings over the years, everything from foreign bank accounts in Malta, to Bitcoins, to even using large bulk purchases of prepaid phone cards (don’t ask). For a period I was “randomly” selected to be searched at the airport EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I flew anywhere for anything. But that has since stopped, which I can only imagine I owe a “Thanks, Obama,” for having the Department of Homeland Security and the DOJ scrub those lists.