Phil Ivey Bails Out Sports Bettors for $2 Million

Posted on August 4th, 2014 by Alana Markoff
High-stakes poker player Paul Phua.

Paul Phua was among eight individuals indicted for operating an illegal gambling business. (Image: Neil Stoddart/PokerStars)

Phil Ivey’s gambling bankroll is a bit smaller now, after shelling out $2 million in bail money for fellow high-stakes cash player Paul Phua, his son Darren, and Richard Yong and his son as well. And while the Phuas may now be out of federal custody, their legal troubles may only be beginning. They were among eight defendants who have now been indicted by a Las Vegas federal grand jury in connection with the World Cup betting ring that was allegedly being run out of Caesars Palace.

All eight defendants, including both Phuas, are facing the same two felony charges. Those include one count of transmission of illegal wagering information and another count of operating an illegal gambling business. The defendants are alleged to have run the illegal betting ring during the recent FIFA World Cup, taking millions in bets on the tournament while operating out of three villas at the Las Vegas resort.

Indictments Follow Raid

Earlier in the month, the FBI raided those villas in order to shut down the gambling ring. Paul Phua and his son Darren were among the eight men arrested in the wake of that raid. The two were ordered to be released upon raising a combined $2.5 million in bail, which was provided by prominent poker players Andrew Robl and Phil Ivey.

However, the two Phuas were then detained by agents from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) before they could be released, with reports saying they were being held for possible deportation. However, ICE ultimately did release the two men.

According to the FBI, Phua is “known by law enforcement to be a high-ranking member of the 14K Triad,” a major international criminal organization based in Hong Kong that may have as many as 25,000 members worldwide. Phua’s legal counsel, lawyer David Chesnoff, has denied those allegations, however.

Phuas, Yongs Well-Respected in Poker Community

Others among the defendants include Malaysian Richard Yong, who is a junketeer, namely, someone who helps connect high-rollers to casinos. Yong’s son, Wai Kin Yong, is also in custody. The elder Yong is reportedly considered to be one of the leaders of the operation.

Richard Yong also leads the all-time tournament poker money list for Malaysia, making him yet another connection to the world of high-stakes poker in this case. Yong, along with Phua, are regulars in high-stakes poker games and tournaments around the world, with Phua reportedly playing in the “big game” in Macau.

That may be where Phua was able to strike up friendships with players like Ivey and Robl.  Another prominent supporter has been Tom “durrrr” Dwan, who was with the Phuas at the time of their arrest and has since been seen during their court appearances. The Yongs were also reportedly receiving support from John Juanda, among others.

The Yongs have also benefitted from their connections to the poker community. Ivey and Daniel Cates each contributed $1 million towards the bails of Richard and Wai Kin Yong in order to free the two men from jail. Ivey paid the $500,000 bail for Wai Kin Yong, while the elder Yong’s bail came from Cates’ million and the additional $500,000 from Ivey. Both men will be staying with poker player Gabe Patgorski while the legal process is ongoing.

Phua’s legal troubles related to the illegal gambling ring began even before he arrived in Las Vegas. On June 18, Phua was arrested along with more than 20 other individuals in Macau on allegations of running a similar organization that took hundreds of millions of dollars in bets on the World Cup.

After that arrest, Phua was released on bail. He then traveled to Las Vegas on his private $48 million jet, a plane that is now being used as collateral in his bail arrangement for the most recent arrest. According to authorities, the betting ring then continued their operations from the Caesars Palace villas.

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