Poker player Paul Phua Wei-seng, who is in legal trouble for allegedly running an illegal sportsbook, has the support of several prominent professional poker players.
According to a report in the Sunday Morning Post, a number of poker pros, including Andrew Robl and Phil Ivey, have contributed to his bail and expressed their support for him.
Last week, 50-year-old Phua, his 22-year-old son Darren Phua, his 56-year-old associate Richard Yong, Yong’s 22-year-old son Yong Wai-kin, and four others were indicted in a Las Vegas court for allegedly operating an illegal sportsbook. Their lawyers have declared that the legal battle is far from over.
Phil Ivey, who is considered by several people to be the world’s best poker player, contributed US$500,000 towards Phua’s bail. Robl, a 27-year-old professional poker player from Michigan, has contributed US$1.5 million. Court documents also reveal that Ivey contributed an additional US$500,000 each for Yong and his son as well as for Darren Phua.
Speaking at a hearing held to set bail for Yong and his son, Ivey, who has won the World Series of Poker (WSOP) championship title ten times, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he has “the utmost respect and trust” for the Yongs and Phuas.
John Juanda, who has won five WSOP championship titles, also wrote to the court, stating that Richard Yong is “a man of honor and high integrity.” Revealing that he has known Yong for the past five years, he said that he is a “kind-hearted family man loved by everyone around him.”
As a result of all this support, Yong, his son, and their 44-year-old associate Tang Hui were let out on bail. Tang had to post a bond worth US$1.5 million before he could be released. Tom Dwan, the online poker pro, also signed a guarantee that Tang would not leave his house in Las Vegas.
When agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested Yong, Phua, and their sons on July 13, Tom Dwan was with them.
Both Yong and Phua have played high roller poker games in places such as Monte Carlo and Macau. Phua also operates the Philippines-based IBCBet, an online sportsbook.
A month before the FBI arrested him in Las Vegas, Phua was arrested by the police in Macau on grounds of associating with criminals and promoting illegal gambling. He was later released on bail and left the country. According to US prosecutors, Phua is a “member of the 14k triad.”