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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2009 | The Works

Does McEvoy's Win In The Champions Event Mean Anything

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The Champions Event was billed by the World Series of Poker as an event for the ages as 20 former Main Event winners gathered to battle one another for a silver trophy named after the Binion's called the Binion Cup and a cherry red vintage Corvette Stingray. Jeffrey Pollack, commissioner of the WSOP, called the moment the highlight of his career as commissioner. In the official media release it was stated that “the crush of media and fans rivaled anything previously seen in the 40-year history of the WSOP.” At the end of a rather short two days of play that totaled just over 17 hours, the winner was Tom McEvoy with the runner up being Robert Varkonyi.

Was this as big an event as Pollack and the World Series of Poker were making it out to be or was it just an over hyped tournament that had little bearing or meaning? Granted, it was indeed an impressive display when the 20 former winners gathered around a table to have their photograph taken, but to label this event as among the greatest in World Series of Poker history is not only ludicrous but is a slap in the face to the real great moments in World Series of Poker history.

Tom McEvoy is a nice guy, and it is a good accomplishment to outlast the 19 players that he did out last in this tournament. Make no mistake about it though, this was a FREEROLL tournament with not a lot at stake for the winner other than boosted pride and ego. The ones that had the most to prove, were ironically the ones that did the best. While McEvoy has four bracelets and 38 WSOP cashes, a majority of those came before the poker boom and he has done little to show himself in the poker world since the late 80's and early 90's. His last cash for more than $50,000 was in, ironically, another freeroll, the PPT $500,000 event back in 2005 which to his credit he won. You have to go back to 2002 though to get another tournament cash that was more than $50,000. From 1998 on, over a period of ten years, McEvoy has cashed for more than $50,000 just those two times.

McEvoy stated in his post-win interview that “I told all my friends that I wanted to win this tournament more than anyone else. I think I have been losing some respect because I have not won in some time, and I wanted this to regain that respect.”

I'm not sure a win in a 19 person, closed event, playing against a number of players who are merely playing for the promotional opportunity and don't care or need the results is enough to regain that respect. Especially when you say something like “this is the toughest field I have ever played against.” Let's get real here Tom.

The lack of importance of this event is only further illustrated by the 2nd place finisher, Robert Varkonyi, who could arguably be among the worst players to ever win a Main Event bracelet. Varkonyi won in 2002, the first year that the hole cam was used in the WSOP broadcast. He was so bad that Phil Hellmuth stated he would shave his head if Varkonyi won. Hellmuth ended up shaving his head. What has Varkonyi done since his win? Outside of finishing in 177th in the 2007 Main Event and winning $51,398... absolutely nothing.

My argument gets a little weak when we look at the 3rd place finisher, Dan Harrington, as he's actually accomplished quite a bit in the past decade. Harrington, however, isn't your typical professional poker player. He doesn't have to play in every tournament, nor does he. He has been smart with his money, has had great success with his book series, and picks and chooses which tournaments he plays in. As someone who relies on publicity to sell books, this was an excellent promotional opportunity for Harrington so he probably took it more seriously than most, especially since it had been almost two years since his latest poker success.

The sad thing is that this event will lead the general poker public into thinking that McEvoy and Varkonyi are better than they really are. Rather than televise meaningful poker, ESPN has chosen to broadcast events like this and the Ante Up For Africa event. It's unfortunate that poker broadcasting has turned more into what events will get ratings than about broadcasting the best tournaments that have meaning. Harrah's, ESPN, and the World Series of Poker might believe that the Champions Event carried significance in the poker community and world, but the true poker fan and poker player know otherwise.

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