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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

Illegal World Cup Betting Raid Nets High-Stakes Poker Player Paul Phua

Paul Phua courtesy of
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An illegal betting operation at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas led to the arrest of a number of people over the weekend including Paul Phua and Sen Chen (Richard) Yong, wealthy Chinese businessmen and regulars at Macau’s high-stakes poker cash games.

The report came in from the Las Vegas Review-Journal: Phua, Yong, and six other Malaysian and Chinese Nationals were part of the operation raided by FBI agents while illegal World Cup wagers were in progress. There are reports from sources that state the alleged offenders were booted from Caesars Palace and arrests were also made from other resorts on the Las Vegas Strip.

According to the Review-Journal Caesars Palace wasn't involved other than being in complete cooperation with state and federal authorities.

On Monday, July 14th, 2014, Phua was charged under the name Wei Seng Phua when a criminal complaint was unsealed. Phua was revealed to be a high-ranking member of one of the largest criminal organizations in the world — the 14K Triad. Prostitution and illegal gambling are the specialty of the Hong-Kong based organization.

Phua's son, 22-year-old Darren Wai Kit Phua, and Yong's 22-year-old son, Wai Kin Yong, also landed in jail over the weekend. FBI agents in Las Vegas made the arrests. On Monday federal court saw the eight defendants appear before a judge in Las Vegas. Phua's attorney in this case is David Chesnoff — the same attorney that handled Phil Ivey's divorce case.

In Monday's hearing Chesnoff denied Phua's link to organized crime and he plans to fight the charges. Bail has been set for Phua and his son according to the Journal-Review. The Phuas must post a combined $2.5 million and put the elder Phua's $48 million private jet up for collateral.

According to Chesnoff, members of the poker community are trying to gather the bail money for Phau — high-stakes cash game player Andrew Robl is one of those players.

The world's biggest cash games have welcomed both Paul Phua and Richard Yong over the last few years and both have played in a number of high roller tournaments around the world. Phua finished sixth in the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final €100,000 Super High Roller for €385,000 in April and also has live tournament cashes listed at the Hendon Mob — all for more than $340,000.

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