According to Paul Phua:
- Match-fixing is only a myth
- He is not in sports betting anymore
- Only a poker player and businessman
PokerNews made a detailed interview with Paul Phua to present the businessman and poker player for the audience in a better light than he usually appears in the media. Mr Phua Wei Seng also discussed the myths and allegations surrounding him in the press.
In our first piece reviewing the interview with Paul Phua, we learned how he got into gambling, how he started his business and how badly he denies any ongoing relationship with land-based and internet betting. Let’s see how Mr Phua Wei Seng got hooked on poker while running his junket business in Macau.
Paul Phua’s first poker session
The first Texas hold ’em experience in the life of Mr Phua Wei Seng was watching a bunch of people playing the game at the Wynn Macau. He did not know what the deal was with this poker game, but in 48 hours he joined his first poker session.
“The next day the first session we had was three Chinese junket operators,” he said. “They are all friends of mine, but I didn’t play with them. They played alone. The next day, they knew I couldn’t play the game, so they said, ‘why not ask Paul to come join.’ That was my first session.”
Entering one of those Macau poker rooms changed the life of Mr Phua Wei Seng for good. “From there we suddenly had 30 or 40 junket owners, and gamblers, all Asian, who were interested in the game. For the next two years all we did was sleep, eat, and play poker. Nothing else.”
Mr Phua Wei Seng managed Phil Ivey to show him his wining hands
These high-profile Asian gamblers who just started out with poker, initially played with blinds of $600/$1,200. That could produce some pots with a hell of a lot of money, so it’s easy to see why some of the biggest players got interested in those cash games. The likes of Phil Ivey, Tom Dwan or John Juanda were happy to join, even if they had to reveal some of their tricks for Mr Phua Wei Seng & co. through a strange rule.
“We are not all always in the same place at the same time, so sometimes when we were short of players, we called in the pros. That first year, we had a rule that the winner of every hand had to show his cards. The pros, of course, obliged as well, because that was the rules of the game and you have to observe them to get a seat.”
“Even a VIP would have to show his hand, so it worked both ways in terms of giving away tells. For us, this helped make the learning curve very short, and it was fun.”
Paul Phua learned how to play poker from the best in the business
After a year, the members of that bunch of Asian newcomers were trained poker players. They never had to show their winning hands anymore, and the blinds rose even higher, like $1,200/$2,400 or even larger amounts when a Chinese VIP poker player joined the table.
This made these Macau cash game sessions the biggest poker games in the world. It’s no surprise that more and more professional poker players went there looking for an empty seat in some of these poker rooms. “We played long sessions, 50 or 60 hours,” Mr Phua Wei Seng said. “A 30- or 40-hour session was very common.”
”I think initially, on certain good days, even someone who is not the best player at the table can win,” he explained. “Sometimes, a VIP wins and he thinks, ‘I might be as good as them.’ That’s the beauty of poker. After a period of time, at least for me, I realized that in the long run we are still behind the pros. We just try to be better than most amateur players.”
He added, “I don’t mind playing in a game with all pros to pass the time, to learn, to improve myself. Poker is the kind of game where you can never stop improving. Every session you learn new things and that’s why we invite pros over for the game.”
In the next part we will review how Mr Phua Wei Seng explains that ”chain of bad events” that led to his arrest and him being charged with operating an illegal sports betting ring from Las Vegas.