Monday, July 29, 2013

Changing Roles for Familiar WSOP Media Faces

The times, they are a-changin', at least for the WSOP's media department, where veterans Nolan Dalla and Alan Fowler have both announced career changes.

Fowler is leaving the WSOP scene entirely, and returning to his hometown of Atlanta for new opportunities.  One of the most heartfelt farewell messages I've read recently came from Dall himself, who wrote a lengthy tribute to Fowler's WSOP service in a post called "Saying Goodbye to Alan Fowler."  The post is well worth the read.

Fowler, the WSOP's assistant media director since 2006 -- coincidentally my first year working at the WSOP -- has long been a recognizable force behind the scenes at the WSOP.  The skilled and always cheerful Fowler could be counted on to put in the long and odd hours necessary to get the job done, and for years he's been one of the go-to guys at the Rio.  Fowler stories I could tell by the dozens, but one of the funniest might come from the waning days of the '08 WSOP, when the main event was down to a couple of tables and people were closing up shop.

I'd been working very closely with Fowler and his crew that summer on the overnight chip counts, and finally, about three in the morning when we were all done for the night, Alan and I and a couple of his interns had an impromptu mini-tournament at one of the unoccupied cash game tables in the Amazon Room.

We had munchies, we had drinks.  (I might have snuck some beers back there.)  We had cards and chips.  And we were making a bit of a mess, so we had to scramble around for something to hold trash, the cans being a good walk away and already in the process of disappearing from Amazon by the tear-down crews.

Alan digs out a couple of empty chip bags to hold the trash, the same type every player's chips goes into at the end of the night.  But in the process of passing them around he grabs one, holds it up, and in a deadpan-perfect, "Alas, poor Yorick" voice, cries, "Poor bag, you could have been great!  You could have held Phil Ivey's chips!"

A-plus delivery, Alan.

Next day, I remember seeing him sprinting across Amazon and tackling those giant inflatable Milwaukee's Best cans they used to have.  Lance Bradley and Gary Wise were in on that one, too.  I might have pictures somewhere.

Yeah, he'll be missed, both for his overall skill and his moments of random zaniness.

For Dalla, one of poker's preeminent and savvy industry people, he's not leaving the WSOP entirely, but is instead retrenching himself at the main WSOP and WSOP-Europe while giving up his gig as the WSOP Circuit tour's traveling media secretary.  The WSOPC gig is an immensely difficult chore, trying to come up with something interesting to say about a batch of largely nondescript players each day who've managed to reach a Circuit final, all while reporting on bustout hands that with few outliers are the same, only the counts and pips changing.

Dalla, though, is branching out, having also announced a new venture he'll be joining in with Rush Street Productions called "Poker Night in America."  This new TV-poker enterprise, put together by Heartland Poker Tour co-founder Todd Anderson, is slated to start filming next month at venues across the country, with its first broadcast date sometime in 2014.

PNA looks to be a mix of televised tournaments and some sort of in-person look into occasional private and semi-private home games, if all the disparate little pieces of info released to date are assembled.  It'll be interesting to see what comes of it; I think Anderson would like to recapture some of the HPT's original magic, when it emerged from meager beginnings to establish a solid foothold as one of the country's leading mid-range tourney series.

Both Fowler and Dalla deserve the poker world's best wishes in these endeavors.  Both have been worthy, solid contributors to the game, even if their efforts are often more unsung than many others in the business.  We wish them both well.

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