Tom started playing poker on the knee of his grandmother, when he was only five years old. She taught Tom and his brothers how to play, staked them to about $1 each to play on, and then proceeded to win it back. It was either get better or keep losing to grandma. They got better. The boys eventually ran their own poker games at their house, fleecing the neighborhood kids. On more than one occasion their mother would receive a phone call from an irate mother complaining about us McEvoy boys.
With this kind of background, it was almost inevitable that Tom would someday be part of the poker world. After graduating from college he started playing about once a week. Eventually holding poker games at his house that often started on a Friday night and lasted until Sunday afternoon. These all weekend games help lead to Tom losing his job as an accountant, coming in not too fresh on Monday’s eventually caught up with him. Tom had spent a week in Las Vegas a few months prior to his dismissal and won about $1,000 in the poker games there, since his salary at that time was only $18,000 per year, he thought there might be something to this poker after all. After losing his job I took off for a three week Las Vegas trip and won again. After that he spent a year flying back and forth from Grand Rapids to Las Vegas before deciding to take a shot at a professional poker career full time.
In 1983, just four years after beginning his poker career, Tom won his first World Series of Poker bracelet – and no, it wasn’t in the main event. Tom won the Limit Hold ’em event and $117,000 in prize money. Six days later, he went on to win the most coveted title in poker, the WSOP $10,000 Championship Event, along with $540,000 in prize money and his second of four WSOP bracelets. He went on to win the WSOP Razz title in 1986 and the WSOP Limit Omaha title in 1992 (against his friend, Berry Johnston). He has eighteen other final-table appearances at WSOP events, and a total of 27 money finishes.
Virtually all successful poker players have read one or more of Tom’s six books: Tournament Poker, How to Win at Poker Tournaments, Championship Hold ’em (with TJ Cloutier), Championship Omaha (with TJ Cloutier), Championship No-Limit and Pot-Limit Hold ’em (with TJ Cloutier) and Championship Stud (with Max Stern and Linda Johnson). Tom’s poker books are required reading for serious poker players, covering a wide range of topics from general poker strategy, starting hands and money management to reading players and taking poker thinking to higher levels. He has been a featured columnist for Card Player magazine for eight years, sharing poker knowledge in his Tournament Poker column every other week.
Tom was the first player to win the WSOP Main Event from a satellite.
McEvoy is staunchly opposed to smoking. In 1988 he helped organize the first tournament where smoking was not allowed. There was much reluctance, but the tournament still attracted a large number of players, and therefore confirmed the viability of having non-smoking tournaments. In 2002 he convinced Benny Binion Behnen to make the WSOP to be a non-smoking tournament by agreeing to give Behnen poker lessons.
Tom McEvoy’s winning WSOP hand
Rod Peter’s had JK and led out the betting when the flop came down 3-6-6, with a jack on the turn he pushed all in, only to be crushed when Tom called and turned over his ladies. A 3 on the river sealed the deal and Tom was world champion.
Tom McEvoy Poker Career Highlights
- 1992, First Place WSOP Omaha Limit
- 1986, First Place WSOP Seven Card Razz
- 1983, First place WSOP Limit Hold’em
- 1983, First Place WSOP Championship Event NLHE
- 1983, First Place Irish Championship
Tom McEvoy Quotes
“Often I won more money in our $5.00 limit poker games than my weekly salary. Of course, I wasn’t too fresh come Monday morning which probably contributed to the end of my accounting career.”
“The tough part was convincing my wife, breaking the news to our three young children, telling parents and assorted friends and relatives, and most of all trying to convince everyone I had not lost my sanity. Although not entirely confident of success, I was willing to give it my best effort. I figured I could always find another accounting job.”