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The World Poker Tour (WPT) Choctaw Main Event came to a close on Tuesday as James Mackey advanced all the way from bottom stack to a dominant end-game to win his first WPT title. For the victory, Mackey won $681,758, which includes a $15,000 entry into the season-ending Tournament of Champions.

Mackey began the six-handed televised final table third in chips, well within striking distance of the top (6,315,000 chips compared to chip leader Bastian Fischer’s 8,780,000). He had trouble finding his footing, though, eventually falling to 3,200,000 about 50 hands into final table play and finding himself as the shortest stack of the remaining five players.

Two key hands got Mackey going, though. The first came on Hand 53. According to, Jack Duong raised pre-flop to 400,000 and Mackey called. On the flop of K♣-5-4, Duong bet 425,000, Mackey raised to 900,000, and Duong moved all-in. Mackey called for his remaining 3,400,000 chips with K♠-J♣, good enough for top pair. Duong, who had Mackey barely covered, showed a diamond flush draw (I’m guessing Duong didn’t really want a call there, but knew he likely had outs if it happened). Neither the turn nor the river helped Duong and Mackey had doubled-up to 7,725,000 chips, while Duong was down to 275,000.

Mackey treadmilled for the next twenty hands or so, but got another nice boost on Hand 75. He raised pre-flop to 450,000, Craig Varnell three-bet to 1,200,000, and Mackey made the call. The flop was all hearts: K-J-9, prompting Varnell to bet 1,050,000 chips. Mackey called, bringing on the turn of 6. Varnell once again led out, betting 2,050,000, and once again, Mackey called. The river was the 5♠ and this time, Varnell checked. That was Mackey’s cue to go all-in for 3,900,000, forcing Varnell to fold. That pot gave Mackey the chip lead for the first time at 12,775,000 chips.

Mackey didn’t hold the lead the entire time after that, but for the most part, he didn’t have a whole lot of trouble. He went into heads-up play against Benjamin Zamani with a 19,550,000 to 12,425,000 chip lead and never fell behind. The final hand, Hand 134 of the final table, was academic. Zamani was all-in with Fives, Mackey called him with Eights, and the better hand held up.

James Mackey now has $3,575,959 in live tournament earnings. This is the second-largest cash of his career, behind only his World Series of Poker bracelet win. He became one of the youngest to win a WSOP bracelet back in 2007 at the age of 21 when he came out on top of the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em event, good for $730,740.

Mackey was also one of the world’s most successful online poker players during the poker boom. He was ranked as high as #13 on PocketFives’ worldwide tournament rankings with $3,874,095 in recorded internet tournament winnings.

2016 World Poker Tour Choctaw Main Event – Final Table Results

1.    James Mackey – $681,758
2.    Benjamin Zamani – $412,234
3.    Craig Varnell – $306,346
4.    Bastian Fischer – $230,300
5.    Jack Duong – $175,122
6.    Matthew Smith – $134,720

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