June 28, 2019 (Las Vegas) - Phil Hui has captured the $50,000 Poker Players Championship title to win his second bracelet and $1,099,311 -- the biggest cash of his career by far. He topped a field of 74 players to capture one of the most prestigious tournament victories in poker.
When the final card landed, Hui joined an elite group of players. Not only players who have won the PPC, but players with multiple WSOP bracelets. He hugged his girlfriend, Loni Harwood, also a two-time bracelet winner, and his rail, which had been growing throughout the day, cheered and gathered around him.
“I still don’t know if it’s real or not. Everyday I made the next day, it’s been like a dream. No sleep, just super anxious before every day, but when I get to the table, I’m comfortable,” Hui said.
Hui had a game plan for the event. Basically, it was to play low-variance lines in big bet games and then to gain chips in the H.O.R.S.E. games. He mentioned a few people on his rail that helped him improve his game. First, Harwood.
Hui says she’s one of the best Hold’em players in the world and was happy to be able to learn from her and try things out in lower buyin No-Limit Hold’em tournaments.
Then, Kyle Bowker, another WSOP bracelet winner. Hui says his improvement in PLO has a lot to do with his friendship with Bowker. The rail that built up over the day was filled with bracelet winners and main event champions. Everyone wanted to get a chance to congratulate Hui on his victory.
“This is my dream. I’d rather win this over the main,” Hui said, “this is incredible, you have to be well versed in every game. It’s a dream come true. Definitely this is the one tournament I want to win and play. This is only the second time I played it. Just to be lucky enough to play it, it’s incredible.”
Hui said he got ready for the event watching replays and playing low buyin mixed game tournaments back home in Florida.
“I’m still gonna play those, I love to play mixed games.”
Hui said that last summer was his first losing summer and he spent the past year improving and making sure that didn’t happen again this summer. He came into this summer with one main goal.
“I want to win player of the year this year. That was my main goal going into the series this year. I was going to play everything I could and try to make deep runs. So POY is first on my list.”
Well, Hui has made some deep runs. He’s made two final tables and one unofficial final table this summer. He finish third in the $2,500 Big Bet Mix, fourth in the $1,500 H.O.R.S.E., and seventh in the $10,000 Dealer’s Choice.
Hui won his first bracelet in 2014 in the $3,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Eight or Better. He now has 39 WSOP cashes and seven final tables. He now has over $2-million in WSOP career tournament winnings. The win in the PPC also puts him in second place in the WSOP Player of the Year race, behind Daniel Zack.
Hui might not think so, but he has definitely set himself apart from the crowd and joins an elite group of players who’ve won the $50K PPC.
“My name doesn’t belong there yet. I’m happy it’s there, but I need to do a lot more to be in a group with those guys. I’m a lucky fish like Deeb said.”
The final day of play started with six players returning and Josh Arieh holding the chip lead. The final table was stacked, as you would expect from one of the premier events on the poker calendar.
Dan “Jungleman” Cates entered the day as the short stack, and was eliminated shortly after play resumed. Arieh sent him to the rail and added a million more chips to his stack to increase his lead further. Surprisingly, this was Cates second WSOP cash ever. The $168,305 payday brings his career winnings to $6,882,880.
That left Shaun Deeb, the 2018 WSOP player of the year, as the short stack. Deeb is making a run at repeating as the player of the year, and is currently sitting in seventh place. He finished second place in the $10,000 Dealer’s Choice and now has six top 20 finishes this summer. Deeb had positioned himself to move up, possibly way up the leaderboard with his second final table of the summer. He currently trails Daniel Zack, who is playing the $10,000 Razz with 12 left, so Deeb may have been unable to take the lead anyway.
Deeb was the next to bust, finishing in fifth place for $232,058. Before play started, Deeb said he cared more about the POY points than he did the money. He adds another final table to his summer, and moves slightly closer to the POY leader, Zack.
After a long period of play four-handed, Bryce Yockey was eliminated in fourth place. He took home $325,989 for his finish. Yockey, who won his lone WSOP bracelet in the $10,000 PLO Eight or Better in 2017, booked his second-highest WSOP cash at his ninth final table. Five of those final tables have come in $10,000 or higher buyin events.
Arieh still held the lead with three players remaining. Phil Hui and Esposito were both seeking their second bracelet and Arieh was looking to become a three-time winner.
Esposito was also at his second final table of the summer. He finished third in the $1,500 Omaha Eight or Better. This was his tenth overall final table for Esposito who won his first bracelet in 1999 in Limit Hold’em. “Uncle Johnny” Esposito was also eliminated in third place at this final table. He took home $466,407 for his finish and left Arieh heads up with Hui.
Hui was only playing the $50K PPC for the second time in his career. He was facing an uphill battle, sitting with a three-to-one chip deficit.
Hui and Arieh battled heads up for a few hours, and Hui took the chip lead with trip jacks in a Stud Hi-Lo pot. The two continued to pass the lead back and forth a few times, spending most of heads up play about five big bets apart.
Hui pulled away, winning a big Pot-Limit Omaha pot to leave Arieh with his biggest disadvantage of heads up play. Hui pulled even further away in Razz.
Finally, Hui claimed his second bracelet, defeating Arieh to win the $50,000 Poker Players Championship.
Final Table payouts: (Click here for a list of the full results)
1) Phil Hui ($1,099,311)
2) Josh Arieh ($679,426)
3) John Esposito ($466,407)
4) Bryce Yockey ($325,989)
5) Shaun Deeb ($232,058)
6) Daniel Cates ($168,305)