Cookies on the PokerWorks Website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the PokerWorks website. However, if you would like to, you can change your cookie settings at any time.

Continue using cookies

Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where are they now - Tom McEvoy

Share this
Where are They Now is a series of an in depth look at all poker players - not just the pros - as they travel through one long game. Some of the players profiled are deceased but not forgotten.

A lot of poker players generally take the game up early on in their lives, but it would be hard to imagine anyone taking to the game at a younger age than Tom McEvoy. Just five years after his November 14, 1944 birth in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he was already beginning to learn the game. Shortly after learning the basics of the game he would continually try to get his fellow classmates to join him for a game. The problem was that he would try to do this in the middle of class, often drawing the eye of his teacher, and resulting in McEvoy losing his cards for the day and a phone call home to his parents.

McEvoy likes to tell a story about one of these phone calls home. McEvoy’s teacher told his mother that he had been beating his friend Johnny out of lunch money. Mom, perhaps having that motherly intuition of knowing what her son would eventually do for a living, answered, “If little Johnny is dumb enough to lose his money there is nothing I can do about it.”

Despite the funny quote, gambling was looked down on in the McEvoy household. That obviously didn’t discourage the young McEvoy from continuing to play the game, and because of that dedication he has become one of the best poker players to ever belly up to the felt.

Despite the love of cards, his teachers and parents were still able to instill in him the importance of a good education. While continuing to study the game religiously, and because of his overall love of numbers, he attended Ferris State University in his hometown of Grand Rapids where he completed a degree in accounting. He continued to play poker during and after college, but instead of pursuing a full-time poker career, he decided to take an accounting job. However, history would soon start to write itself for McEvoy when he was laid-off from that job. By 1978 McEvoy was no longer an accountant, he was a poker player.

In just four short years, on the Las Vegas Circuit, McEvoy made his presence known when he placed 6th in the Limit Razz event in the 1982 World Series of Poker. Just one year later he joined the poker gods when he took down the 1983 World Series of Poker Main Event just a few days after winning his first bracelet in the $1,000 Limit Hold’em event.

His run from full-time poker player in 1978, to a champion in 1983, wasn’t just luck. When he decided to enter this profession he entered it with everything he had, including a studying ethic that is unmatched.

McEvoy has published 12 of his own poker strategy books and has contributed to dozens more over the last 25 years. His teaching style has been described as one of the easier styles to read. It’s also apparent that he enjoys teaching. A lot of poker players, especially Doyle Brunson, have said that if they could go back and undo writings they have made public, they would. While it may have cut into the earnings of some of these players to educate the general public, it has hardly cut into McEvoy’s bottom line, where he has earned five overall World Series bracelets, and over two and a half million dollars in tournament winnings.

McEvoy has also been an ambassador to the sport. It is nearly impossible to walk into a casino around the world and not see a thick cloud of cigarette and cigar smoke hovering above the tables. If you have walked into a casino and seen the absence of smoke, you can most likely thank McEvoy. In 1998, McEvoy organized the first ever non-smoking tournament. At first it was reluctantly received by many of the top pros, especially the smokers of the group. Gradually they decided that winning a poker tournament, and more importantly money, was more important than smoking a couple of cigarettes. As McEvoy has been quoted as saying, “The addiction to poker is greater than the addiction to smoking.” The event was a fairly big success, but it was only the beginning of what McEvoy had in mind.

Sick of playing in the World Series of Poker every year with smokers, and hearing the outcry of other non-smokers and those with health concerns, McEvoy felt he needed to do something about it. In 2002 he contacted Benny Binion Behnen, the CEO of Binion’s Casino, and host of the WSOP at the time, and asked what they could do about the problem. Behnen said if McEvoy gave him poker lessons free of charge he would make the event smoke free. Since then the WSOP has become smoke free, and the majority of all the other major poker events around the world are also free of smoke. That same year, he also won third place in the heads-up event.

In today’s world of poker it is fairly common for at least half of the field to satellite into a major tournament. While Chris Moneymaker became the first player to ever win the WSOP Main Event after winning a satellite tournament online, McEvoy became the first ever player to satellite into the main event from a live satellite. Poker players are almost looked upon as foolish today if they don’t find a way to satellite into a tournament, but in 1983 satellite tournaments were just starting to pop up. McEvoy took his satellite victory and turned it into a WSOP bracelet in 1983, twenty years before Moneymaker took advantage on his online satellite victory. McEvoy has also authored a book on this subject, titled “Championship Satellite Strategy.” It’s hard to imagine that there would be a better book on this subject when McEvoy was the originator.

Despite the large amount of money he has won in tournaments, he is estimated to be at least a few times richer because of his writing ability. Some people have joked that McEvoy has written too many books regarding winning the WSOP Main Event, despite only winning one. Considering many of today’s top pros have never even sniffed a final table, it makes sense for him to write a handful of books on the subject as opposed to someone who hasn’t won. It has also been argued that he recycles materials and just presents it in a different way. But, that has been largely untrue, as he seems to have kept up with the ever changing trend of poker. While some things change, some things do stay the same. McEvoy still plays most of the major tournaments, even finding success in the fairly new World Poker Tour, taking third place in the Mirage Poker Showdown.

McEvoy will surely go down as one of the best tournament players ever, but he will go down in history for changing the way the WSOP is played, smoke-free. That tidbit of information will most likely start to be forgotten as the years pass, but his books will also most likely stand the test of time.

*Tom McEvoy is a Team PokerStars Pro*

News Flash

The IRS Scores Big at 2015 WSOP ME Final Table

The IRS managed to snag 34.13 percent from the payouts of the 2015 November Nine, totaling $8,467,091.

Read more

Quick Room Review

Bonus Room review

Subscribe to the Nightly Turbo

Be the first to know all the latest poker news, tournament results, gossip and learn all about the best online poker deals straight from your inbox.

RSS Feed