After a number setbacks, Malaysian poker veteran Paul Phua has been released from US custody after several of the sport’s legends joined together and met the amount needed to secure his freedom.
Phua had been arrested over the weekend in connection with an illegal World Cup betting ring, but 10-time WSOP champion Phil Ivey and high-stakes veteran Andrew Robl paid a total of $2.5 million to allow him to walk out of jail. It seemed that Ivey and Robl’s efforts may have been unsuccessful, but immigration officers decided against deporting Phua and his son Darren and the pair finally earned their freedom.
A difficult challenge for Phua and co.
It had looked unlikely that Phua was going to be freed after being arrested earlier in the week even though bail had already been met. There were concerns within the FBI that Phua had ties to several Asian crime syndicates and was a flight risk due to having already been arrested in similar circumstances in Macau on June 14.
However, many of poker’s biggest names rallied for his release, with Robl going as far as signing an official statement questioning the actions of the officers involved in the actual arrest as well as donating $1.5 million towards the overall costs.
Not the end of the road
Although Phua and his son are free men for the time being, senior officials involved in the case have stated that the investigation is still ongoing. Both members of the Phua family will also still have to give their accounts in a trial further down the line but both men are reportedly keen to do so in order to clear their names.
This was highlighted by their defense attorney, David Chesnoff, who told reporters: “We are gratified that our clients are free, and they’re looking forward to telling their side of the story in court.” Ivey may not be finished in helping out some of those affected by the case with reports that he could be ready to bail out another person arrested in the scandal.
Ivey is reportedly ready to pay $500,000 for the release of Malaysian poker player Wai King Yong, who was arrested in San Diego last week. It’s not clear whether Yong will be as fortunate as the Phuas were with authorities, although poker’s best and brightest are doing whatever they can to ensure that none of their fellow players are left high and dry in the ongoing saga.