Phil Hui’s Journey from Golfer to Pro Poker Player to 2019 PPC Champ

July 26, 2019Aleeyah JadavjiAleeyah Jadavji

Phil Hui

  • Former golfer Phil Hui cashed 10 times in the 2019 WSOP, with four final tables and a seven-figure win in the $50K PPC.

Once the 50th annual World Series of Poker was a wrap, a total of 90 gold bracelets had been awarded. From buy-ins as low as $400 in the Colossus to the $100,000 No-Limit Hold’em High Roller, players had a wide range of opportunities to win some coveted WSOP hardware.

Poker pro Phil Hui had one bracelet and four gold Circuit rings as part of his collection of accolades before grinding out the summer WSOP. He put together an impressive showing, booking 10 cashes including four final tables and one big win. Undoubtedly the highlight of his series was taking down the $50,000 Poker Players Championship for a whopping career-high $1,099,311 and his second gold bracelet.

PokerNews caught up with the newest PPC champ to learn more about his journey to poker as well as how he sharpened his skills until he was able to compete with the best in the game. Like many others who find success in poker, Hui was a serious athlete before he took up card games as a hobby, then as a profession.

A Student of the Game

Hui, a San Antonio native, was a professional golfer and transitioned into poker by way of playing cash games with his peers on tour. Asked about the transition from playing golf to playing mixed games on the felt, Hui stated:

“It was a pretty easy transition because a lot of the guys that I played cash money games with in golf, we would play poker later at night. So I was a grinder on the mini tours in golf, and then at night I would play cash games.”

Hui’s first documented poker result came 10 years ago in 2009 while playing on the WSOP Circuit. It was the next year in 2010 when he won his first of four Circuit rings in $345 No-Limit Hold’em in Lake Tahoe for $25,494. Since then, Hui has booked 12 wins and accumulated just shy of $3 million in live recorded earnings.

Impressively, exactly half of these wins came from mixed games, while the other half were from no-limit hold’em, further showing how well-rounded of a player he is. While no-limit hold’em is usually the game people jump into when starting their poker journey, Hui actually played a lot of pot-limit Omaha 8 or better – mostly online.

“I also played a lot of H.O.R.S.E. late at night. I taught myself,” said Hui.

“I watch them play every hand. Phil Ivey, Shaun Deeb, everybody. I just pay attention and then I learn as I go.”

For those trying to break through in mixed games, Hui has some tips: “I would just say keep grinding, keep practicing…When you feel comfortable to move up, I would move up. I would play as many hands as possible.”

For Hui, he’s self-taught through much observation and experimentation. “I played the $300 tournaments to learn how to maneuver tournament-sized stacks. I would watch all of the stuff on PokerGO – all of the final tables.” He continued: “I learn as I go. I watch every hand. I watch them play every hand. Phil Ivey, Shaun Deeb, everybody. I just pay attention and then I learn as I go.”

Winning the $50K PPC, In the Running for POY

From golf pro to button clicker to WSOP grinder, Hui is now the proud owner of one of poker’s most prestigious titles after winning the $50K PPC and has etched his name into the Chip Reese Memorial trophy and WSOP history.

“This is a dream of mine,” Hui told PokerNews reporter Oliver Biles after winning the PPC. “This tournament I’d rather win over the Main any day. Obviously the money for the Main is incredible, but I mean you have to be well-versed in every game, and these are the best players in the world.”

“I was a grinder on the mini tours in golf, and then at night I would play cash games.”

While first place is always the end goal, so is a big payday. The money jumps in the biggest tournament that Hui has ever played in were certainly important to him. “I was definitely trying to ladder, but I was playing my game. I didn’t play any different. I just took low variance lines in the big bet games and then played my hands and my ranges in all the stud games and H.O.R.S.E. games,” said Hui.

Hui came in to the final table third in chips, and eventually went on to win the whole thing after a long heads-up battle with Josh Arieh. He topped a massively stacked field, beating out the likes of Phil Ivey, Shaun Deeb and three-time $50K PPC winner Michael Mizrachi.

Hui celebrated the crowning achievement with friends and of course, with longtime girlfriend Loni Harwood, who has two WSOP bracelets and five Circuit rings of her own. They don’t travel from their home in Florida for poker often, but when they do, they generally make it count. Between the two of them, the poker power couple booked 18 cashes during the 2019 WSOP.

Phil Hui and Loni Harwood now have four bracelets and nine rings among them.

Hui’s performances this summer have landed him in the top five of the 2019 WSOP Player of the Year race, and the POY title is one that he’s had his sights set on. “That (winning POY) was my goal to start the summer,” said Hui.

Although the summer WSOP has come to an end, Hui can still travel to WSOP Europe to gather more points and try to achieve yet another of his lofty poker goals. Here’s a look at his summer 2019 WSOP results:

Hui’s 2019 WSOP Results

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