Saying Goodbye to Alan Fowler
When it comes to poker, I receive far too much credit.
I’m lucky because I often get to stand in front of the camera, or very close to it. I get to sign my name to things I write. I get to enjoy an occasional bow in front of the crowd.
Truth is, gargantuan events like the World Series of Poker really run on the backs of a lot of people you never hear about, and rarely see. But were they not to exist, then operating something as extraordinary as the world’s richest sporting event simply wouldn’t be possible.
I’d like to tell you about an exceptional man I have come to know as both a trusted colleague and a dear friend. His name is Alan Fowler.
Alan just completed his final day working for Caesars Interactive Entertainment (and the WSOP). He’s officially been a part of the WSOP ever since 2006. Alan recently became a proud father. He’s moving his family to Atlanta where he plans to start a new life.
To say we will all miss Alan would be a gross understatement.
* * *
I first met Alan in the late Spring of 2006.
Back then, we didn’t have a media staff. Right in the midst of the so-called “poker boom,” hundreds of journalists flooded into Las Vegas that summer to cover the WSOP. Most of the workload was carried by Gary Thompson, who was then head of public relations, a PR agency specialist from Baltimore named Dave Curley, and myself. Thankfully, Gary decided to hire someone fresh and new to help us out. That person turned out to be Alan — a true first-round draft choice.
Alan arrived as a recent graduate of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. From the moment I met Alan, he never once complained about the workload or the mind-numbing drudgery of performing the most difficult tasks on the entire staff.
Keep in mind all that goes into reporting WSOP results. When tournament play ends, which was often the next morning after it began, that’s when much of our work actually starts. Aside from all the usual daily rituals that take place from noon until late at night, one of the most critical responsibilities was performing the overnight chip counts. Imagine the overwhelming task of entering hundreds, sometimes thousands of names, hometowns, and chip counts — sometimes 3 or 4 tournaments a night. Then, think of updating the official WSOP database, dealing with media inquiries, answering e-mails from all over the world, and performing detailed research for ESPN. These were just a few of the tasks performed regularly by Alan.
That first year, Alan worked as hard as anyone I’ve ever known in poker. He returned to the WSOP again in successive years and then was hired full-time by (then) Harrah’s Entertainment in 2009. I think he’s one of the best hires the WSOP ever made.
I’ll give you just one example of how Alan may have actually saved the WSOP or at least its historical legacy. When Binion’s Horseshoe closed down in early 2004, most of its old files and records also vanished along with it. Fortunately, I kept the official WSOP database on a thumb drive, with all the records dating back to 1970. This was the only actual record of results in existence. Yet somehow, the file became corrupted. At one point, I thought we might have lost all the official WSOP records forever.
Alan came to the rescue. He worked for several days and was able to recover all the lost data. Later, he even managed to find additional data from tournaments that had long been lost to history. He created an updated version of the results that has since become the official record. Now, when you look at tournament resumes of thousands of poker players, those records are accurate. Thank Alan Fowler.
To no one’s surprise who knew him, Alan worked his way up the ladder. But he still performed many of the tasks that no one else wanted (or knew how) to do. He eventually joined the WSOP Circuit and began traveling to various stops around the country. By 2010, he had become the Assistant Media Director of the WSOP.
Coming into this summer, Alan knew the 2013 WSOP would be his last.
* * *
We all knew this day would eventually come. That doesn’t make it any easier.
Alan’s final workday at Caesars was on Thursday. As I write these words, he’s now making a 3,000-mile cross-country drive from Las Vegas to Atlanta. May that journey be a safe one and may his ultimate destination provide him with all the success he so rightly deserves.
Saying “goodbye” is never easy. But if this dark cloud has a silver lining, it’s that someplace out there others will soon be saying “hello.”
It will be like 2006 all over again — somewhere else. They’ll welcome a fresh new face onto their staff, someone who is willing to put in the hours and do whatever it takes to succeed. They’ll bear witness to someone eager to take on new challenges and solve problems, without seeking credit. They’ll also get to know a friend who is loyal and trustworthy.
Our loss is their gain. I envy whoever in Atlanta ends up working with Alan Fowler.