Tom McEvoy Wins the Inaugural WSOP Champions Invitational
McEvoy Defeats Robert Varkonyi Heads-up
Perhaps it’s fitting that Tom McEvoy is the champion of champions.
McEvoy, the 1983 world champ, outlasted Robert Varkonyi heads-up to win the inaugural WSOP Champions Invitational. For his win, McEvoy was awarded the Binion Cup by Jack Binion himself and a 1970 red Corvette.
In an era when tournament poker has captured the imagination and aspirations of millions of people, McEvoy literally wrote the first notable book on tournament poker, letting the public know about the vast differences in strategy between tourney play and cash games.
And in a time where most people who participate in such prestigious events as the main event qualify for the tournament courtesy of a satellite, McEvoy holds the distinction of being the first main-event champion to get there thanks to a satellite.
McEvoy was ahead of his time, and last night, he was ahead of his very prestigious peers.
The world champs might have only been playing for a trophy and a car, but if there was any doubt about how seriously the pros were taking this event, the nine-hour final table likely erased that skepticism.
Read below for the detailed action:
The Poker Brat Lasts One Hand
Coming into the 10-handed final table as the short-stack, Phil Hellmuth had a quick day when he was knocked out in the very first hand of play of the session.
Carlos Mortensen tried to steal Hellmuth’s blind with pocket twos, but the Poker Brat made the pot-odds call with 10 5. The board ran out Q J 4 A 8, and Hellmuth was done.
The Reigning World Champ Runs Into Aces
Peter Eastgate gave some credence to the reputation of “those aggressive Internet kids” as he pushed all in with a three-bet preflop. To do that against “Action Dan” Harrington, he must have the nuts, right? Incorrect.
Eastgate tabled 8 7 as Harrington naturally showed a couple of aces. The 2008 champ got one of the best flops he could hope for — 7 6 5 — but it turned out to be a tease, as a jack and a king came on the turn and river, respectively.
With the pot, Harrington knocked out Eastgate in ninth place.
Texas Dolly Out in Eighth
The fans aren’t happy about this one. Doyle Brunson, who easily got the most applause and fanfare of the champs in attendance, has been eliminated in eighth place.
Texas Dolly decided to risk his tournament life on a draw, calling all in with A 2 on a flop of 10 8 7. Up against Tom McEvoy’s pocket jacks, Brunson had some cards to hit, but it wasn’t to be as the board ran out K and 4.
A Lot of Outs Don’t Come for Berry Johnston
He had outs, that’s for sure. But Berry Johnston’s tale is a common one: So many outs, so few streets.
After a K 8 7 flop, Johnston put in his final few chips with Q J. Carlos Mortensen called with 6 6 and had to sweat an avalanche of outs on the turn and a few more on the river after a 9 came on the turn to give Johnson an added gutshot-straight draw. However, a blank K river gave Mortensen the pot and ended Johnston’s day.
The Heads-Up Champ Can’t Make it Past Sixth Place
Huck Seed, the reigning NBC National Heads-up champion, put forth a good effort but made his exit after he made an unsuccessful move with K J. He pushed his remaining chips in the middle preflop, only to receive a devastating call from Carlos Mortensen with K Q.
Each champ paired his kicker, and Seed was eliminated.
The Matador Gets Gored
Carlos Mortensen had taken the chip lead after day one, but his run to be the champion amongst champions came to an end, courtesy of Jim Bechtel.
Mortensen’s A Q might have looked good for a brief moment when he saw an A 4 3 flop, but he couldn’t have liked his chances when he saw Brechtel’s set of threes. A 9 sealed the deal on the turn, with an irrelevant Q coming on the river.
Jim Bechtel’s Kings Can’t Hold; Finishes in Fourth
After Robert Varkonyi raised three big blinds from under the gun to 3,000, Tom McEvoy popped it to 9,000 on the button. After Dan Harrington folded from the small blind, Jim Bechtel made it 29,000 to go.
Varkonyi got out of the way, allowing McEvoy to push all in — another 35,000 or so for Bechtel. Bechtel called, and his kings were in great shape against McEvoy’s A-K.
But an ace came on the flop, sending Bechtel to the rail.
Another Third-Place Finish for Harrington
Many people know about Dan Harrington because of his third-place finish in 2003 — the year that Chris Moneymaker beat the odds and won the main event. Well, in another final table televised by ESPN, Harrington has once again finished in third place.
After Tom McEvoy made an opening raise, Harrington re-popped him for about half his stack. McEvoy decided to just call. After an A Q 4 flop, Harrington committed the remainder of his chips. McEvoy went into the tank before finally calling with K Q. It was good, as Harrington tabled pocket nines. After blanks on the turn and river, Harrington was eliminated in third place.
Varkonyi’s Cinderella Run is Over
There probably weren’t too many people expecting Robert Varkonyi in the final two, with a chance to win this tough invite-only tourney. But the 47-year-old New Yorker shocked a lot of people with his performance in the event.
Still, it was not enough, as Varkonyi pushed all in after the turn on a 8 7 5 6 board. With J 5 in his hand, Varkonyi might have thought that he had a bunch of outs with his straight-flush draw.
But, in actuality, he only had one — the 4 — when McEvoy turned over his 10 9. The river was a K, and McEvoy was crowned the champion.
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