WSOP Main Event: Tom McEvoy -- 1983 Champion and 2006 Unsung Hero

By Dr. Pauly

Tom McEvoy begins Day 3 as one of three WSOP Champions left in the field. 2005 Champion Joe Hachem and 2000 Champion Carlos Mortensen are both still in the hunt for their second championship along with Tom McEvoy, who won his championship in 1983. That was before Jason Strasser was even born.

McEvoy has won four WSOP bracelets. He won bracelets in NL Hold'em, Limit Omaha, Limit and Hold'em Razz. He also made 17 final tables at the WSOP. McEvoy also won an even on the PPT. When he won the WSOP Championship in 1983, he beat out Poker Hall of Famers Doyle Brunson and Crandall Addington. He also only won $540,000. At that time, it was the highest payout for any poker tournament. Compare that to this year's payout distribution. 18th place at the 2006 WSOP will be guaranteed more money than McEvoy won in 1983. Times have changed at the WSOP with a huge influx of satellite winners.

McEvoy won his seat into the 1983 main event from the first ever satellite held at Binion's Horseshoe. According to Craig Cunningham, he's also known as "the patron saint of satellite qualifiers."

Tom McEvoy grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He starting playing penny ante poker with his grandmother. According to McEvoy's Team PokerStars bio, he "took quite a beating in those days." He regularly got in trouble playing poker in grade school. He would win his classmates' lunch money, then the kids would go home crying and complaining to their mothers, who would promptly call McEvoy's mom issuing a complaint.

"If little Johnny is dumb enough to lose his money," his mother said in defense of the young poker shark, "There is nothing I can do about it."

He started playing poker full time in 1978 when he was laid off from his accounting job. He would fly back and forth playing 5-10. When he was making more money than his accounting gig, he eventually moved to Las Vegas and since then he's been a professional poker player and a noted author of over a dozen books. Some of my favorites were books he co-authored with TJ Cloutier.

If you are a non-smoker and hate smoke filled poker rooms, you have Tom McEvoy to thank for the clean air in most poker rooms in Las Vegas. He was part of a team that organized the first non-smoking tournament in 1988. In 2002, he also bribed Beck Binion Behnen to make the WSOP a smoke-free tournament by agreeing to give her poker lessons if she prohibited smoking in the room.

Tom McEvoy plays online and is able to handle the new breed of player.

"On-line players are very different, but stand a good chance in these larger tournament formats such as the WSOP final event. Events with over 1,000 players are rare in traditional tournaments; but on-line it's not uncommon to see a field of 1,700 players," McEvoy once said in an interview with the Poker Prof.

"The big problems with on-line players are they overplay their hands, they make all kinds of mistakes. They over bet the pot they under bet the pot, I see this in every online game. The worst move I have seen is a player making a raise the size of the big blind in a no-limit game; if there is a more mindless play in no limit Hold'em I haven't seen it. You drive nobody out of the pot, it re-opens the betting, maybe they're trying to make the pot bigger, but if that is their intent there are far better ways to do this. If you have a big pair for example, you're not raising enough to accomplish the goal which is to thin out the field. You see a lot of total inexperience on-line, you would think with these players playing for real money they would invest in a good book... they would have the cost of the book back with one pot."

McEvoy entered Day 3 with $60K in chips, just below the average stack. McEvoy usually flys under the radar in tournaments. Those who've read his many books or play on PokerStars know who he is. But there's a large percentage that don't, which makes Tom McEvoy the unsung hero at the WSOP. He's a true gentleman in a city filled with of liars, cheaters, and miscreants. That's why he stands out from the rest of his peers. We'll be keeping tabs on him throughout the day.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker