James Mackey is no stranger to big titles, but his impressive resume just got a welcome boost when after scoreding his first World Poker Tour (WPT) title at the Choctaw Main Event. Over 1,000 other players had WPT hopes, but it was Mackey who walked away $681,758 richer.
Bastian Fischer held the chip lead when the final table began, and Matthew Smith was the first to go at the hands of Jack Doung, a 2015 World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet holder.
During five-handed play, Mackey slipped into the short stack and it appeared he would be the next to be eliminated, but he found a double that pulled Doung off the high of his win over Smith. Mackey held a K♤, J♧ on a K♧, 5♢, 4♢ flop, his pair of kings against the potential flush of Doung’s A♢, J♢ pocket cards. When no diamonds appeared on the board, Doung was crippled and busted in fifth shortly after for just over $175K.
Craig Varnell, the only previous WPT champ at the final table, was sent home in third quickly after busting Bastian Fischer in fourth. Varnell hit the rail when he called a raise by Mackey while holding an A♧, 7♤. His ace-high was well behind Mackey’s pocket nines and a K♧, 8♤, 6♤, J♡, 2♤ board proved inconsequential.
Mackey didn’t relinquish his lead once in heads-up play and, 36 hands later, he defeated Benjamin Zamani for his first WPT title.
Mackey’s win pushed him past $3.5 million in live cashes. When he was 21 years old, Mackey became the third youngest player at the time to win a WSOP bracelet. He also holds a PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker record – his 2007 win of $580,212.50 was the third largest prize in PokerStars history.
Final table results:
(Photo credit: WPT, Joe Giron)
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