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  1. [caption width="640"] James Mackey won his first World Poker Tour title in Choctaw, Oklahoma (Photo courtesy Joe Giron/WPT)[/caption] Just over nine years ago James Mackey joined the rare group of 21-year-old players to win a WSOP bracelet. On Tuesday night in Choctaw, Oklahoma, he joined another exclusive group when he won the World Poker Tour Choctaw event, earning $666,758 in the process. Mackey began the final table third in chips but thanks to an early double-up, found himself in the driver’s seat for most of the night. Matthew Smith came into the final table with the shortest stack and barely made through the first hour of play before busting. Benjamin Zamani opened to 350,000, Jack Duong called from the cutoff before Smith moved all in for 1,725,000. Zamani folded but Duong called and tabled [poker card="kc"][poker card="ks"] while Smith showed [poker card="9c"][poker card="9s"]. The [poker card="7c"][poker card="5d"][poker card="4d"] flop offered Smith no relief and after the [poker card="3h"] turn and [poker card="8d"] river he was out in sixth place. Duong’s run didn’t last much longer after a big clash with Mackey. Action folded to Duong in the small blind and he raised to 400,000 and Mackey defended his big blind. After the [poker card="kc"][poker card="5d"][poker card="4d"] flop Duong bet 425,000 and Mackey raised to 900,000. Duong moved all in for 3,555,000 total and Mackey called all in. Duong tabled [poker card="ad"][poker card="jd"] for the nut flush draw and Mackey showed [poker card="ks"][poker card="jc"] for top pair. The [poker card="6s"] turn and [poker card="4h"] river both missed Duong and he was left with just 275,000 while Mackey doubled-up. Duong was eliminated on the next hand by Craig Varnell. Varnell claimed another victim just an hour later when he opened to 450,000 from the button and then called Bastian Fischer’s small blind shove for 3,500,000. Varnell showed [poker card="qh"][poker card="qs"] which put him ahead of Fischer, who showed [poker card="ad"][poker card="8c"]. The board ran out [poker card="kc"][poker card="6d"][poker card="2d"][poker card="8s"][poker card="tc"] to eliminate Fischer in fourth and send Varnell back into the chip lead. His spot at the top of the chip counts didn’t even last a full level though and Varnell found himself on the outside looking in when heads-up play began. Varnell’s fate was sealed in an all in preflop confrontation with Mackey. After a raised to 600,000 from Mackey, Varnell made it 1,825,000. Mackey announced he was all in and Varnell called all in for just under 9,000,000. Mackey showed [poker card="9d"][poker card="9s"] and Varnell was behind with [poker card="ac"][poker card="7s"] The [poker card="kc"][poker card="8s"][poker card="6s"] flop didn’t help Varnell and neither did the [poker card="jh"] turn or [poker card="2s"] river and the former WPT500 champ was out in third place. That hand propelled Mackey into a better than 3-1 chip lead over Zamani when heads-up play began. It took 37 hands of play over less than an hour for Mackey to emerge victorious. On the final hand of the night Zamani limped fore 300,000 before Mackey raised to 1,000,000. Zamani responded by putting his entire stack of 7,400,000 at risk and Mackey called. Zamani tabled [poker card="5c"][poker card="5h"] but found himself behind the [poker card="8d"][poker card="8h"] of Mackey. The [poker card="8s"][poker card="7s"][poker card="6s"] flop gave Zamani more outs for a win, but neither the [poker card="js"] turn or [poker card="6h"] river were of any help for Zamani and he was out in second place. The win pushed Mackey’s lifetime earnings to $3,575,959 and the $666,758 first place payout is the second largest of his career behind only the $730,740 he earned for winning his WSOP bracelet. The closest he had come to winning a WPT prior to this was a third place finish at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown in April 2014. He’s also won $3,874,095 online and won a PocketFives Triple Crown in 2006. Final Table Payouts James Mackey - $666,758 Benjamin Zamani - $412,234 Craig Varnell - $306,346 Bastian Fischer - $230,300 Jack Duong - $175,122 Matthew Smith - $134,720
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