Hal Fowler

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Harold Arthur Fowler
Hal Fowler at the 1979 World Series of Poker
Nickname(s) Hal
Residence Tulare, California
Born (1927-01-12)January 12, 1927
Died November 7, 2000(2000-11-07) (aged 73)
World Series of Poker
Bracelet(s) 1
Money finish(es) 1
Highest ITM
Main Event finish
Winner, 1979

Harold Arthur "Hal" Fowler (January 12, 1927 – November 7, 2000)[1] was an American poker player known for winning the 1979 World Series of Poker Main Event. He is considered the first amateur poker player to become poker's World Champion.[2]

Fowler was born in Vermont and later lived for many years in Tulare, California. Before his WSOP victory, he worked as an advertising executive.


Although he was a relative unknown amateur player, Fowler won the 1979 World Series of Poker Main Event. At one point in the tournament, he was down to around 2,000 in chips (out of over 500,000 total tournament chips) at a final table that included Johnny Moss, Bobby Baldwin, and other professional players. Additionally, it is believed that Fowler could not cover the entrance fee and Benny Binion had to loan it to him.[citation needed] Fowler's 1979 win is sometimes called the greatest upset in the history of the WSOP.[3]

Fowler defeated professional Bobby Hoff heads up to win the championship when his 7 6 made a gut-shot straight and defeated Hoff's A A on a board reading 5 3 J 4 10.

Fowler later faded from the poker scene because of complications from diabetes that hurt his eyesight and his legs.[citation needed]

Fowler's career tournament earnings exceeded $380,000.[4]

He died at the age of 73 in a nursing home on November 7, 2000.[5]

World Series of Poker bracelet[edit]

Year Tournament Prize Money (US$)
1979 $10,000 No Limit Hold'em World Championship $270,000


  1. ^ "Harold A. Fowler". Social Security Death Index. Retrieved 2009-11-30. Harold A. Fowler 12 Jan 1927 7 Nov 2000 
  2. ^ Holloway, Chad (2010-11-04). "History in Spades: The First Amateur to Win the Main Event". PokerNews.com. PokerNews.com. Retrieved 2011-08-02. 
  3. ^ ESPN.com: The Only Legend
  4. ^ http://pokerdb.thehendonmob.com/player.php?a=r&n=27590
  5. ^ Brunson, Doyle (2008-04-13). "DOYLISM OF THE DAY: "Don't take life too seriously; nobody gets out alive."". doylesroom.com. Archived from the original on 2008-05-13. Retrieved 2008-06-02.