Friends of poker player Susie Zhao mourn her brutal death

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Friends of professional poker player Susie Zhao are “heartbroken” over her untimely death and can’t understand how she wound up dead in a Michigan park.

“I can’t fathom this happening to anyone, least of all the always agreeable Susie that I knew,” Meredith Rogowski, who met Zhao on the school bus in 6th grade, told The Post.

“We definitely want Susie to be remembered for the bold and carefree way she lived her life not her tragic end.”

Zhao, 33, who went by Susie Q in the poker world, was found dead and “badly burned” on July 13 in a parking lot near Pontiac Lake Recreation Area in Oakland County, police said.

They’re investigating whether her profession as a poker player, which earned her at least $224,671 since 2009, had anything to do with her death, according to cops and an online poker database.

Rogowski said even at just ten-years-old, Zhao exuded “an adventurous spirit and fearlessly pursued anything she wanted in this world.”

“She had the intelligence and charisma to succeed at whatever she chose to do,” the friend went on.

“Apart from her high-stakes jet-setter persona, she was always a loyal and supportive friend. She meant so much to us. We are heartbroken.”

The last time the two spoke was a few weeks ago over Instagram messenger where Zhao provided few details on her recent move back to Michigan from Los Angeles.

“[She] said she was exploring new opportunities, mentioned some poker tournaments out of state,” Rogowski said.

“She was, as usual, very vague about what she was up to in Michigan.”

A few years ago, the childhood pal went to Los Angeles and Las Vegas to visit Zhao in her natural habitat.

“She was so excited to share her world with her childhood friends,” Rogowski, who now lives in Japan, said.

“She showed us all the classic LA spots. Went to the Getty, hiking in Runyon canyon, the Hollywood improv, UCB, shopping in Melrose. Susie loved all of the good things in this world, laughing, dancing, good food, travel, or just keeping it low key with her good friends.”

Another childhood friend, Kinga Wierzbicka, took to Facebook to honor Zhao’s memory.

“With tears in my eyes and grief in my heart, I share one of the hardest pieces of news I never thought I would have to share,” Wierzbicka wrote in an emotional post.

“My beautiful, intelligent, vibrant, and exuberant friend Susie left this world far too soon. I was not ready to say goodbye, none of us were, as she spread love and happiness to all who were lucky to encounter her in their lives.”

The friend of 22 years said their relationship blossomed from adolescence into adulthood “seamlessly” and like the closest of friends, it didn’t matter how much time they spent apart, “we would always bounce back to where we were while never skipping a beat.”

“Her aura and memory will forever be with me. I will never forget her. And I know all who knew and loved her feel the same,” the friend continued.

“Susie was always Susie. She was undeniably and apologetically herself. Always. My girl – Susie Q.”

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