On Friday night in Las Vegas, Phil Hui won arguably the most prestigious poker tournament in the world, the World Series of Poker $50,000 Poker Players Championship, earning $1.099 million in prize money, the coveted gold bracelet, and the respect of the game’s elite.
“This is my dream,” Hui said in the moments after victory. “I’d rather win this than the Main Event. Obviously the money for the Main Event would be amazing, but this is incredible. You have to be well-versed in every single game. It’s a dream come true. This is the one tournament I wanted to win, and play. It’s only the second time I’ve played it. Just to be lucky enough to play it, it’s incredible.”
With the victory, Hui joins the esteemed company of David ‘Chip’ Reese, Michael ‘The Grinder’ Mirzachi, Brian Rast, and John Hennigan, among others, as a champion of the event.
“My name doesn’t belong there yet,” a humble Hui said when asked about being in such exclusive company. “I’m happy it’s there, but I need to do a lot more to be in a group with those guys.”
This year, the WSOP $50,000 Poker Players Championship drew 74 of the top players in the game, and Hui had to battle with all of them over a grueling five days of play. In the end, it came down to Hui and Josh Arieh for the title. Entering heads-up play, Arieh had the lead with 16.2 million in chips to Hui’s 6 million. Although he was down nearly 3-1, Hui stood tough and immediately began working to close the gap.
The heads-up match between Hui and Arieh saw the chip lead change several times, as the two went back and forth over the course of several hours. One player would gain the lead and start to pull away, but then the other would fight back and do the same. Over and over. Eventually, though, Hui stretched out to a lead that Arieh couldn’t come back from thanks to some big pots in the stud games.
The final hand was in 2-7 triple draw, with Hui made a . Arieh had a and drew a and an to make an inferior hand. With that, Arieh was eliminated in second place for $679,246.
The triumph came in Hui’s ninth cash of the 2019 WSOP, and it was the third final table he had made this summer. Entering the event, Hui’s results had him in the top 25 of the WSOP Player of the Year race with 1,541.83 points. He can now add another 1,265.67 to that for 2,807.5 total. That puts him right there behind current leader Dan Zack and throws another top contender right into the thick of this hotly contested race.
“I want to win Player of the Year,” Hui said. “That was my main goal going into this year. I was going to play everything I could and try to make deep runs, so Player of the Year is first on the list.”
Final Table Results
1st: Phil Hui – $1,099,311
2nd: Josh Arieh – $679,246
3rd: John Esposito – $466,407
4th: Bryce Yockey – $325,989
5th: Shaun Deeb – $232,058
6th: Dan Cates – $168,305
From the field of 74, only the top 12 would make the money. Late on Day 3, Arieh finished off Chris Klodnicki in 13th place to send him home on the bubble. That ended play for the day with Phil Ivey atop the final 12 competitors.
Day 4 couldn’t have gone worse for Ivey. He lost almost every hand he played, included one when he folded a winning low in a seven-card stud hi-lo hand that would’ve won him half the pot. Ivey ultimately finished in eighth place for $124,410 in what was his fourth career cash in the WSOP $50,000 Poker Players Championship. Those four cashes have earned Ivey $1.013 million from this event.
The four players to hit the rail before Ivey were, in order, Andrew Brown, Talal Shakerchi, Chris Vitch, and Dario Sammartino. For Vitch, it was his second in-the-money finish in the event in as many years. Last summer, Vitch took 11th. Sammartino was recently featured on PocketFives as part of the ‘No Gold Club: Best Players Without a World Series of Poker Bracelet.’ He came close once again with his run in this event but ultimately fell short with a ninth-place finish.
The final elimination on Day 4 was David Oppenheim, a finalist for the Poker Hall of Fame this year. He was eliminated in seventh place by both Bryce Yockey and John Esposito.
On the fifth and final day, Dan Cates hit the rail first in sixth place, then it was defending WSOP Player of the Year Shaun Deeb falling in fifth. It was Arieh who busted Cates and Esposito who knocked out Deeb.
Yockey, who was making his first-ever cash in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, busted in fourth place to Arieh in a hand of 2-7 triple draw that will go down as one of the wildest hands the WSOP has ever seen. Arieh had raised on the button, Yockey three-bet from the small blind, and Arieh made the call. Yockey stood pat, but Arieh drew two. Yockey then bet, and Arieh called. Yockey was pat again, and Arieh drew one on the second draw. Yockey bet, and Arieh called. Yockey stood pat and Arieh drew one card again. Yockey was dealt number two – – and fired the last of his chips into the middle. Arieh peeled his last card to reveal a seven to make a number one – – and called to win the pot.
Esposito went out next in third, also making his maiden voyage into the money of the tournament. Once again it was Arieh who ended the run, this time in a hand of pot-limit Omaha. Arieh flopped top and bottom pair on the flop against Esposito’s . Arieh had the and held with the turn and river.