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New leaders at WPT Legends
After three days at the WPT Legends of Poker in L.A., just 24 players remain in the hunt for the $1 million first-place prize with seasoned pro Todd Terry leading them all.
When the 27-person money bubble burst Monday, Bryan Devonshire actually held the chip lead, but busted soon after when Terry flopped the nut flush against his smaller flush in the biggest pot of the tournament so far.
Terry ended up with 850k in chips and the overnight lead.
"I got insanely lucky," he said. "Bryan is a friend of mine and I feel really bad for him."
Terry has runner-up finishes at both the World Series of Poker and the Borgata Winter Poker Open under his belt and is counting on that experience helping him here at Legends.
"I've been at a few final tables with huge money at stake and that should definitely help out," he said. "When you have the chip lead there is a little more pressure to it. A lot can go right and a lot can go wrong and expectations are high."
With a chance to almost double his career tournament earnings with a win here at Legends, Terry is being careful not to count his chickens before they are hatched.
"Obviously winning a World Poker Tour title would be great, but we are very far from that at the moment," he said.
Even booking a seat at that final table will not be easy. A host of top players sit within striking distance, including 2009 WSOP November Niners Steven Begleiter and Kevin Schaffel, WPT Five Diamond champ Eugene Katchalov and WSOP Bracelet winners Prahlad Friedman, Toto Leonidas and James Mackey.
Since winning a WSOP bracelet in 2007, Mackey, 23, has continued to put up great numbers both live and online under his alias mig.com.
However, success on the World Poker Tour has eluded him so far and he is excited about the opportunity here at Legends.
"My WPT results have been very poor," he explained. "I would really like a final table. It would be nice to kind of get the monkey off my back."
It would also turn around what has to be considered a sub-par 2009 for one of poker's brightest and youngest stars.
"I've had a lot of bubbles," he said. "I think I've been playing OK, it's just sometimes you run bad. This year has definitely been worse than the previous two."
His chance at redemption here at Legends happens to come in a tournament with a very top-heavy payout structure. First place pays $1,009,000, but it goes down substantially from there, with second paying $471,670 and third just $231,300.
While all six spots at WPT final tables often pay six figures, the sixth-place finisher at the Bicycle Casino this week will cash just $89,220.
Mackey says that will definitely affect how he plays from here on in.
"When you reach a final table, there is a lot of math in play," he explained. "It is important to move up. If you see a spot where a guy is significantly short, you need to weigh that and think about moving up the pay scale.
"Whenever [a payout structure] is so top heavy like this all that becomes less of a factor and you're able to play more aggressively because first is really what matters."
The WPT Legends of Poker will play down to the final six Tuesday and you can follow all the action on PokerListings' Live Tournaments page beginning at 3 p.m. PT.