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James Mackey Wins 2016 World Poker Tour Choctaw Main Event

30-Year-Old Poker Pro Captures First WPT Title And $681,758 First-Place Prize


James Mackey has won the second running of the World Poker Tour Choctaw $3,700 no-limit hold’em main event, defeating a field of 1,066 entries to win his first WPT title and the first-place prize of $681,758 (including a $15,000 entry into the WPT Tournament of Champions at the end of the season.)

The 30-year-old from Missouri was one of online poker’s biggest american stars playing under the screen name “” and finding plenty of success including a huge win in a World Championship of Online Poker event for more than half of a million dollars. He is also a World Series of Poker bracelet winner, having taken down a $5,000 no-limit hold’em event in 2007. Now he can add WPT champion to his list of poker accomplishments.

Mackey came into the televised final table of six players in third chip position and had plenty of tough competition to deal with including fellow WSOP bracelet winner Benjamin Zamani and 2015 Aria WPT500 winner Craig Varnell.

Mackey ended up eliminating Varnell in third place to take just over a 3-to-2 chip lead into heads-up play against Zamani, who was also looking to capture his first WPT title. The two played 36 hands, with the majority going Mackey’s way. By the time the final hand arose he held a sizable chip lead of more than 3-to-1.

With blinds of 150,000 – 300,000 and an ante of 50,000 Zamani limped in from the button and Mackey raised to 1,000,000. Zamani three-bet all in for 7.4 million total and Mackey snap called with the 8Heart Suit8Diamond Suit. Zamani was in trouble with the 5Heart Suit5Club Suit.

The board ran out 8Spade Suit7Spade Suit6Spade SuitJSpade Suit6Heart Suit to give Mackey a full house and the pot, eliminating Zamani in second place. He earned $412,234 for his runner-up showing. Mackey took to Twitter after it was all over to share his excitement:

Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded to the official final table:

Place Player Earnings (USD) POY Points
1 James Mackey $681,758 1440
2 Benjamin Zamani $412,234 1200
3 Craig Varnell $306,346 960
4 Bastian Fischer $230,300 720
5 Jack Duong $175,122 600
6 Matthew Smith $134,720 480
7 Olivier Busquet $104,842 360
8 Eric Rivkin $82,533 240
9 Everett Carlton $65,738 120

Winner photo courtesy of WPT / Joe Giron.