A poker player’s life is hard, especially when the person you choose to spend it with is going through a rough time. Loni Harwood and Phil Hui, both WSOP bracelet winners, have learned to lean on each other as they deal with the ups and downs of the poker world and life. Hui recently won $286,976 by topping a field of 457 to take home his first bracelet. Normally a No Limit Hold’em player, Hui revealed another talent as he defeated an Omaha Hi-Lo event. Hui’s longtime girlfriend Harwood is no stranger to the WSOP main stream herself, as she lead a killer summer in 2013, resulting in her own bracelet win.
Better known as a circuit grinder, Hui managed to save his summer by winning the $3,000 Omaha Hi-Lo event and cashing in on his first bracelet win, earning $289,976. Just a year earlier, his girlfriend, Loni Harwood also banked in the WSOP earning her first bracelet in a No Limit Hold’em event where she cashed for $609,017. Hui’s bracelet win helped bring him back from what could have been a brutal summer, since he hadn’t cashed in any of the other 25 events he had played. Hui had also talked a big game before the summer began, saying he was going to be in a bracelet picture before the end of the summer. He got the picture he wanted, with all of his friends around him; Harwood was unable to be by his side when he walked away with the win however, as she returned to her hometown to be close to her family, as her mother had recently become ill. Hui was devastated that Harwood was unable to be there with him, and even took a winner’s photo while on his phone talking to her.
Catching up with Hui, he explained how much the win meant to him, and how he wished Harwood could have been there with him. “It was very emotional and it still hasn’t hit me yet. It is something I’ve always wanted and I really wish circumstances were different. The win was bittersweet. I was there for every second of her win. Watching her win was more stressful and more fun than winning myself. It definitely would have been more enjoyable under normal conditions, but I was very happy that they got to see me win.”
Hui and Harwood’s relationship has seen the ups and downs of the poker world, as they actually met while they were traveling the WSOP circuit. Hui, who had earned four WSOP circuit rings compared to Harwood’s two, said that a mutual friend introduced him to Loni at a circuit stop in Lake Tahoe back in 2012. “We met through poker. It will be two years this November. It was gratifying to win [a bracelet] the very next year. Winning a bracelet seems impossible, but having done it now its reassuring that I chose the right path for a career.”
As the Main Event loomed closer, Harwood remained at home to be near her family, opting not to play in the event. Hui said that he planned on leaving after his bracelet win, but upon Harwood and her mom’s insistence, he agreed to stay and continue his original plan to play the Main. Harwood received lots of support from friends and acquaintances in the poker community, blowing up her twitter page with well-wishes and support. Hui even decided to dedicate his play in the tournament to Harwood’s mom, Elissa, as he ended every tweet with #ForMom or #ForElissa.
Main event Day 1c and Bracelet Ceremony today!!! #ForElissa
— Phil Hui (@KungPhui) July 7, 2014
Hui decided to play flight 1C of the Main Event and made it to Day 2C. Although he returned with a very short stack, Hui still was putting forth his all for the event. “It hasn’t been fun without my best friend. I didn’t want to play the Main, but Loni and her mother both wanted me to play, so I gave it 100% but unfortunately fell short.” After he busted out of the Main, Hui was ready to join his girlfriend in New York. He said “I’m packing up and driving straight to New York. I should be there in a couple of days; I’m more than excited to see Loni and her family. I think we are going to settle down for a few months, and figure our schedule out after we take some time off.”