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McEvoy wins Champions Invitational

2 June 2009

Tournament Highlights:

The Winner

· The winner of the World Champions Invitational is Tom McEvoy, from Las Vegas, NV.

· McEvoy won the 1983 world championship. He holds four WSOP gold bracelets. Those victories came in -- Limit Hold'em (1983), the Main Event (1983), Limit Razz (1986), and Limit Omaha (1992).

· McEvoy currently has 38 WSOP in-the-money finishes. This ranks 20th on the all-time list (tied with three other players). McEvoy's career WSOP earnings now total $1,284,611. He has accrued more than $2 million in lifetime earnings for all tournaments combined.

· McEvoy is perhaps best known as the first champion ever to win his way into the Main Event via a satellite. Prior to 1982, all tournament entrants had to pay the required entry fee, which amounted to $10,000. However, satellites allowed players to get a seat in the Main Event for about one-tenth the cost (or less, as mega-satellites were later introduced).

· McEvoy has authored 12 books, mostly on poker strategy.

· McEvoy is originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He worked as an accountant before turning pro in 1978.

· McEvoy is 64-years-old. He has three grown children.

· McEvoy was instrumental in the fight to make poker rooms "smoke free," during a debate which took place in many casinos and poker rooms during the late 1990s. McEvoy is also a tireless advocate of poker player rights and protecting honesty and integrity in the game.

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

· Prior to this win, McEvoy's last major tournament victory came in March 2005, at the Bay 101 Casino in San Jose, CA.

· McEvoy added: "This is the toughest field I have ever played against.

· McEvoy was awarded the first-ever "Binion Cup," named in honor of the Binion Family, who founded the WSOP forty years ago. Following the victory, poker patriarch Jack Binion was on hand along with WSOP President and Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack to present the cup to McEvoy.

· McEvoy also received a classic red 1970 Corvette, with a rare 454 engine. The automobile, in pristine condition, was previously part of the Imperial Palace Auto Collection. The car is fully restored in showroom condition and has zero miles. The car was selected because of its rarity, universal appeal, and connection to the first year of the WSOP which was held in 1970. McEvoy stated he intends to keep the car, which is certainly priceless, both for its collectability and far more meaningful association with this victory.

· McEvoy was visibly emotional about his win. He clearly understood the historical ramifications of this, the first event of its kind, playing against a stellar field. McEvoy was quite candid about what he wants next – which is induction into this year's class of the Poker Hall of Fame. McEvoy hopes his lifetime of poker accomplishments, capped by his victory over the greatest collection of champions ever, may earn him a few extra votes this year.

The Players

· The WSOP Main Event has been won by 34 different players. There are 25 living champions. The World Champions Invitational attracted 20 of the former Main Event winners including:

1972 – "Amarillo Slim" Preston

1976/1977 – Doyle Brunson

1983 – Tom McEvoy

1986 – Berry Johnston

1987/1988 – Johnny Chan

1989 – Phil Hellmuth

1991 – Brad Daugherty

1993 – Jim Bechtel

1995 – Dan Harrington

1996 – Huck Seed

1998 – Scotty Nguyen

2000 – Chris "Jesus" Ferguson

2001 – Carlos Morstensen

2002 – Robert Varkonyi

2003 – Chris Moneymaker

2004 – Greg "Fossilman" Raymer

2005 – Joe Hachem

2006 – Jamie Gold

2007 – Jerry Yang

2008 – Peter Eastgate

· This is the largest collection of WSOP current and former world champions ever in history. There were 19 former champions entered in last year's Main Event, but this tournament had twenty.

· All living WSOP champions were invited to participate.

· When the champions were introduced at the final table, which included ten players, 1976 and 1977 world champion Doyle Brunson received the loudest ovation. While the capacity crowd cheered for all the champions, Brunson alone received an extended standing ovation.

· The runner up was Robert Varkonyi, the 2002 world champion. Varkonyi received nothing for finishing second. But in many ways he was still a winner by outlasting so many of his peers. Varkonyi played outstanding poker over 17 hours and will certainly gain the public's admiration and respect when the championship finale is shown on an ESPN broadcast later this year.

· "This was a great experience – such a great honor to play with the champions," Varkonyi stated afterward. "I had a lot of fun. I hope we do it again sometime. I would like to get another shot."

· Interestingly, 2002 was the first year the WSOP used a device where player hole cards could be seen. Varkonyi's win was the first WSOP event which used the new technology. Although the 2002 victory is occasionally rebroadcast on ESPN, Varkonyi's play in this event is actually likely to be seen by more viewers when the show airs in the next few months.

· Winner Tom McEvoy was highly-complimentary of Varkonyi. He also noted that he believed Varkonyi wanted to win the event more than anyone else, other than himself.

· Finishing in third place was 1995 world champion Dan Harrington. At the final table, he wore a cap identical to the hat he wore at the final table of the 2004 Main Event – his trademark green Boston Red Sox cap. Harrington, proud of his Boston roots and Irish heritage used the same hat in cover shots for his widely acclaimed poker book series, "Harrington on Hold'em."

· 1993 world champion Jim Bechtel finished fourth.

· 2001 world champion Carlos Mortensen finished fifth.

· 1996 world champion Huck Seed finished sixth.

· 1986 world champion Berry Johnston finished seventh.

· 1976 and 1977 world champion Doyle Brunson finished eighth.

· Defending WSOP champion Peter Eastgate finished in ninth place.

· 1989 world champion Phil Hellmuth was the first finalist to be eliminated. He came to the final table severely short-stacked, and busted out on the first hand.

· One of the most bizarre scenes of the event took place on Day One. 2004 world champion Greg "Fossilman" Raymer – who was entered in this event -- was also playing at the final table of the $40,000 No-Limit Hold'em Championship," which was played on an adjacent stage. Raymer concentrated primarily on the final table. However, he joined the Champions Invitational at various break times. Raymer is most certainly the first featured player in history ever to participate in two televised poker tournaments played simultaneously.

Odds and Ends

· The tournament began with WSOP President and Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack standing at center stage. He introduced each champion, who went up onstage and received a rousing ovation from the crowd of more than 2,000 gathered inside the Rio's Amazon Room, the primary site of the 2009 WSOP. The crush of media and fans rivaled anything previously seen in the 40-year history of the WSOP.

· The winner of this event was designated "The Champion of Champions."

· Prior to the start of play, all champions gathered for a historic group photo. This is likely to be the most widely-circulated photo of the year in poker, aside from the WSOP Main Event champion to be crowned later this year. Previous efforts to corral multiple champions into group shots have been difficult, since they rarely gather in one spot at the same time. The most compelling group shots taken in WSOP history were the inaugural 1970 group photo taken of the legends at Binion's Horseshoe. Another 1995 group photo was taken which included about a dozen former champions. This photo that was taken, which included 19 former champions, includes the most in history. Special Note: For official photographs from the 2009 World Series of Poker, visit: http://pa.photoshelter.com/user/impdi For specific media photo requests, email image22@aol.com and list "Urgent Media Request" as the subject line. A group photo of the final table of ten players is included in the press send out.

· The event was filmed from start to finish by ESPN. This was the second of four primary broadcasts on this year's WSOP schedule which will air in the next few months.

· During the dinner break on Day Two, two living poker legends – Doyle Brunson and "Amarillo Slim" Preston held a scooter race in the hallway at the Rio. Bringing back fond memories of former World Series' the two senior gamblers made a sizable wager as to which player could go fastest on a motorized scooter. The race attracted a huge crowd. ESPN filed the race which will be broadcast later.

· Following his victory, winner Tom McEvoy walked over to his newly-won prize, the candy-apple red 1970 Corvette. He sat in the front seat along with Jack Binion and tipped his hat to the crowd and the cameras.

· While most tournament winners are usually exhausted from long multiple days of stress and fatigue, McEvoy was vigorously enthusiastic during the entire post-tournament procession. He stated, "You can keep me here all night. I am enjoying every single minute of this!"

The Event

· This was the first-ever and only tournament of this kind ever held at the WSOP. There was no entry fee.

· Despite no cash or gold bracelet being at stake, given the length of time the competition lasted, it was clear that virtually all the players took the match very seriously. The tournament lasted about 17 hours – much longer than expected than an event with a starting field size of 20 players.

· Players started the event with 10,000 in chips. The competition was a two-day event. Ten players were eliminated on the first day. Ten players made it to the final table.

· Because this event was an invitational (meaning it was not open to all players and had no entry fee), the results are not included in official WSOP records.

· When heads-up play began, Tom McEvoy held about a 3 to 1 edge over Robert Varkonyi. The final hand took place when McEvoy won the last pot of the night, with a higher flush than Varkonyi.

· The tournament officially began on May 31st at 5:05 pm. The tournament officially ended on Monday, June 2nd at 1:36 am.

WSOP Statistics

· Through the conclusion of Event #3, the 2009 WSOP has attracted 1,985 entries. $9,361,170 in prize money has been awarded to winners.

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McEvoy wins Champions Invitational is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.