WSOP Main Event: Exit Interview with Tom McEvoy


by Wil Wheaton

I was walking up the hallway, and I saw 1983 Main Event champion Tom McEvoy walking toward me. As we neared each other, I said, "Please tell me you're on a break."

"Nope," he said, "I just busted out."

My heart sank a little bit.

"Oh man, I'm so sorry." I said.

"It's okay," he said. "That's poker."

After four weeks of listening to players (and being one of them myself in at least one event) storm down this very hallway, screaming obscenities into cell phones or at increasingly unsympathetic companions, talking briefly to Tom, who is always soft-spoken and even-keeled, was a refreshing change of pace.

"Do you feel like talking to me for the blog?" I said.

"Sure," he said, "I have to talk to ESPN, and get my payout, so can you meet me in the PokerStars suite in a half hour?"

"Absolutely," I said.

Back in the media room a few minutes later, I delivered the bad news to the rest of Team Blog, and asked Pauly to come with me for Tom's exit interview.

Aside: I'll never hear the end of it from Otis and Pauly for mentioning it here, but the truth is: Pauly is without equal in the tournament reporting business. He invented the live update style of blogging that incorporates chip counts, hand histories, and the all-important "bouncin' around the room" color that I've tried to capture in my time here at the 2006 WSOP. He's also a skilled and seasoned interviewer, and with a chance to talk with a former world champion, I'd be a total moron to go it alone.

At 2:30, Pauly and I sat down with Tom and talked with him about the history of the world series, the influx of players, and how he's been able to use his experience playing on PokerStars to get an edge against the new crop of Internets players, as well as the seasoned tournament veterans. Tom spoke with us for almost an hour, while Greg and Cheryl Raymer played heads up battleship across the room on, and Dr. Bill Chen joined us for a bit, too.

For a man who had just busted out of the Main Event of the World Series, Tom was as calm and gracious as anyone I've ever seen. He told us that he made one mistake that ended up running jacks into aces, that forced him to race with sixes against ace jack, and an ace on the flop ended his tournament.

I recall reading in one of Tom's books that in No-Limit hold'em, one mistake is all it takes to send you to the rail. I didn't mention that to Tom, though.

I forget how it came up, but our conversation turned to some of the over-the-top, obnoxious celebrating that goes on in tournaments these days.

"I've only celebrated one time," he said, "and that was when I won in 1983."

"I think you earned that," Pauly said.

"Yeah, you deserved to celebrate," I said.

"Well, it was just a release after seven hours of heads up play," he said with a slight chuckle.

I told him about the idiot who clapped loudly in my face when he trapped me with a set on my day one, and he just shook his head.

"That guy has no class at all," he said.

"Yeah, what an idiot," Bill Chen added.

"You never saw that stuff before television cameras showed up," Tom said.

"Yeah, if you pulled that crap back in the old days," Pauly said, "you'd end up in the parking lot."

"That's the truth!" Tom said.

We talked for almost an hour, but it only took a few minutes to learn that Tom, like Greg and Joe, is a champion in every sense of the word: a gentleman, humble and gracious in both victory and defeat.

Pauly will have the highlights of our interview a little later. We're kind of busy covering this poker tournament down the hall.

Afterthought: Greg Raymer's father stopped me on my way out of the suite and said, "Are you the man who wrote that nice article about my son?"

"Yes, sir, I am," I said.

"Thank you for writing that," he said. "I sent it to everyone I know, and I wrote on the top 'I'm just bragging.'"

"Well, I only wrote what was true," I said. "I absolutely adore your son, and you've earned every right in the world to be proud of him."

Posted by Brad "Otis" Willis

Video blogs and interviews from the 2009 PCA

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This page contains a single entry by Craig Baugh published on August 6, 2006 5:22 AM.

WSOP Main Event: Tom McEvoy - Exit Interview with a Champion was the previous entry in this blog.

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