Tom McEvoy won the World Series of Poker main event in 1983. He has gone on to win $2,648,348 during a consistent and successful long-term poker career. Along the way, he has written many books about poker startegy, including one of the most influential strategy books ever, Championship No-Limit and Pot-Limit Hold'em, which he co-authored with T.J. Cloutier.
When McEvoy became the world champion, he took home $540,000 in prize money. At the time, that was big money in the poker world, but when Card Player caught up with McEvoy at the 2009 European Poker Tour PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, the first-place prize money was $3 million. Things have definitely changed since McEvoy's big win, and he sat down to discuss a few differences that have taken place in the game since that time.
Ryan Lucchesi: What kind of table image do you think you’re displaying to other players in the tournament?
Tom McEvoy: Well, I’m new to this table, but the first hand I played I reraised, so they had to think that I had a pretty strong hand, so that made the decision tough for them. In fact, I wished I had flat-called, because my opponent might have shoved in against me, and if he shoves, he’s going up against two red aces. But, because we’re very close to the money and I didn’t want to play this hand in a multi-way pot, I took the reraise option because I didn’t care if I was called by one player.
RL: It sounds like you factor in a lot of information into your decisions at the poker table. How many key elements are you including in your thought process?
TM: My thought process was that if I had more chips than I did, I think the better play would have been to flat-call and try to trap after the flop. I’m so close to the money here, and every chip is precious, so there’s a trade off. If I win the pot right there, I’ll add over 10,000 to my stack, and that 10,000 should be enough to make it into the money. What am I playing for, the money or first place? Well, we’re well away from first place, so the first step for me is the money, and the money is important to me right now. Also, I’m trying to prove that I can cash in one of these things…I bubbled this tournament two years ago when I was two out of the money and I had A-K of diamonds under the gun and I decided to move in because I was short-stacked. Some lunatic with pocket sevens decided that this had to be his all-in hand, and he didn’t have to, he had nothing invested and he had three big stacks of chips. The flop comes K-K-7, and I always remember. Why did this guy want to shove with two sevens? I mean, he wasn’t going to get broke against me, but he still had the other players, and what do I have? I just raised in first position two out of the money, and that’s the worst hand I’m going to show, but it worked for him. So, I still have nightmares about not cashing two years ago.
RL: Would you say this is the most aggressive tournament field of the year with all of the online players present?
TM: Yeah, although some of them slowed down a little bit. Some of the more aggressive ones have already knocked themselves out. There was one guy who came to my last table with the most chips, and he was the next one out.
RL: You’ve played in every PCA. How has the event changed since the beginning?
TM: The pure number of players and the length of time it takes to play it. The buy-in went from $7,500 when it started up to $10,000 now, and now they have multiple tournaments, as well. You would think that the bad economy would slow down the poker, but it hasn’t much, because there are so many online qualifiers that are underage, and they can legally play here, so it makes a huge difference.
RL: When you won the WSOP main event, that was the first time that television cameras began showing up to film poker, and at the PCA there will be three tournaments filmed for television. Did you think that tournament poker would ever become the staple of sports broadcasting that it has been since 2003?
TM: Nobody thought this was going to happen back then. Years ago, before they had the holecard camera, I told a lot of people that poker would never catch on as a spectator sport until the audience can see what the holecards are. Before that, all of the coverage was OK, they’re all in and two hands are turned up. There was no window into strategy…it’s like watching paint dry. Now people can see their holecards…of course there is a lot more opportunity now in poker, because it has gotten so much bigger.
RL: Do you feel like the authentic characters who defined the game before the turn of the century are getting lost? There are a lot of new faces now who are great players, but there are very few new personalities that are unique.
TM: They’re dying off, the old guard that were players in that day that had a lot of personality are slowly fading away, but there are a few guys on the scene that have established themselves. I always maintain that poker players are the last of the great individuals, because with professional poker players you’re really dealing with guys who are outside of the box in terms of lifestyles.