Interview With Tom McEvoy: Hoping For Rain

Tom McEvoy
Tom McEvoy playing on Day 2A of the 2007 Main Event

Former World Champions always come back to reclaim the Main Event title. Tom McEvoy's been doing it since 1984, the year after his big win.

He's had a dry spell for a while, but is determined to make this year his comeback year. After returning to Day 2A with more chips than he's ever had after Day 1, he is determined to make it through the day and hit the money.

I walked him down the hallway to the bathroom during one of their breaks, and this is what the kind man had to say:

So I've had a pretty exciting life, where would you like me to start?

[Laughs.] Well let's just start with today, Tom - how's your day going?

Well, my day started out pretty lousy cause I actually mis-played a hand. I had two tens and I was hoping he had two sixes but he flopped a set. I lost about $17,000 in one hand off my stack. I definitely didn't have to lose that much.

Do you remember the specifics?

Sure. I raised with two tens, the guy who was the chip leader of our table called with sixe from the big blind. Flop comes, A-A-6. Well, two aces on the board is less dangerous than one ace because they've either got a monster hand or they haven't got much of a hand at all. So he checked and I checked.

Then another small card came out - like a five or something. And he bet $4,000, which is still not a real big bet, so I called it. Then a deuce came off of the river this time he bet $10,000. This is where I shoulda folded because it was a flush card so it was possible he had a flush draw.

So I made a mistake. But I came back. Right at the very end [before the break] I had two aces and I got some action on it and I got my stack back up to $60,000. I started off the day with $62,600 so I just went through the blinds, picked some up, so I feel better.

Good! So how are you feeling today mentally?

I was very sluggish to start with but I took an energy drink and I've perked right up! The only time I ever drink them is when I play in a poker tournament because I'm always a bit sluggish in the early part of the afternoon. I'm definitely a night person and as the day wears on I'm much better. There's no tomorrow on these tournaments. So with no tomorrows, I've gotta get through the day. I've told everyone I swore I'd get through the day no matter what.

I cashed in a big tournament last year for the first time since my big win. That's a long dry spell - and I want to do it two years in a row. I'm a lot more ambitious than just cashing though. I played twelve previous World Series events this year and I cashed four times, which ties my personal record for most cashes. And this event is lucky number 13 for me! If I cash five times, I'll set my own new record.

I was really gunning for you in the Seniors' Event. Was that fun?

Oh, it was! But that was one of the worst beats I ever took in my life because I lost to a one-outer in a $90,000 pot with 34 players left. One out.

Those are the ones, when you're a professional player, that you try to shrug them off, but there's 1882 players in that tournament. You get a bad beat and -

(Tom is getting too excited and knocks my voice recorder out of my hand)

(Laughing.) I think you got too excited!

I normally don't show a whole lot of emotion! And I've never had a penalty in my life, never before in poker. But that time I was so tempted just to kick my chair when it happened. But I had to restrain myself. Don't wanna act like some total idiot like some of these other guys are!


I'm me, you know?!

For sure!

Tom McEvoy
Tom McEvoy: Not an idiot.

How do you like playing with these new young kids who've just flocked in from all over the world?

It's fine with me, because it's forced me to adapt and not get all stodgy and set in my ways. It's made me open up my game. And for any sport - and this is certainly a mental sport - nothing else - you thrive when there's new blood. So I'm all for these younger guys. Take their best shot.

But a lot of them don't know what they're in for yet. I met one guy - his name is Jared Hamby - he played a couple tournaments at the Bellagio. He played a lot of internet and his idea of a losing streak is, well, he had a month where he lost money. And I was like, snickering. That's his idea of a losing streak? I mean that's ridiculous.

I mean he's a nice guy and all, but he has no idea. A lot of them don't. A lot of them have initial success but the cards can be very cruel at times.

Okay I'll just ask you one more question so you can go to the bathroom! (We are in line for the men's bathroom and we've reached the door). How is this year's main event comparing with the ones you've played in the past?

Well, I finished the first day with more chips than I've ever had, and we started with more so I feel like the competition overall is weaker - but there are still plenty of good players, I mean there's the world's best players here.

But there's a lot of weak players too. And it takes me a while I guess just to analyze my table. If I bet at my table ten, fifteen minutes after those tens I wouldn't have messed it up like that. I got a much better mind now on what the guys are doing. Now that I've had a chance to really analyze my table I think it will be just fine.

Thanks Tom. Now go to the bathroom.

Nice to meet you! Thank you!


* * * * * * * * * * *


And off he went; cane in hand, to do his business. I visited him a couple hours later and his chip stack was down to about $14K. But he just kept on saying, "Gotta make it through the day. Just gotta make it through."

You can do it, Tom! See you on Thursday.

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