I’m happy to have had the pleasure of meeting poker writer Mo Nuwwarah twice now, once at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and again just recently at the World Series of Poker. A quiet, unassuming fellow, he struck me as a very dedicated, hardworking individual who was passionate about his work.
Fully knowledgeable about all things poker and unafraid to get his opinions out there when editorial pieces are called for, it’s easy to appreciate Mo’s poker writing. Because he was busy working so hard at both events, however, I unfortunately didn’t get the chance to have an in-depth conversation with him, like I did other members of the poker media. For that reason, I was interested in lining him up for an interview as part of our ongoing “Get to Know the Poker Media” series. I’m happy Mo agreed, and it’s a pleasure getting to know him a little better via his answers.
Specifically, I had no idea with regards to his partially Palestinian heritage. As a complete aside, I think it’s wonderful that he and I, an orthodox Jew living in Israel, can get along and have a good relationship with one another. I’m sure we’ll have plenty more to talk about if and when our paths cross again at a future poker event.
Without further ado, I invite you to enjoy Mo’s story.
How did you first get into the business of poker writing and for how long have you been doing it?
After I graduated from college in 2011, I took the summer off and then tore my ACL. A year later, in the fall of 2012, I finished my rehab and began looking for jobs. I looked on PokerNews and saw they were hiring live reporters. I applied and did not hear back. About six months later, in spring 2013, I was curious and looked on the site again; the ad was still there. So, I tweeted at PokerNews and asked if they were hiring or not because I had sent something in and heard nothing.
Donnie Peters, who is now my editor and boss, tweeted back and told me to email my stuff directly to him. I ended up getting hired for the 2013 WSOP and Chad Holloway trained me right down the road from my home in Omaha at WSOP Circuit Council Bluffs.
What poker outlets have you written for and which has been your favorite (one-time or ongoing) gig over the years?
I believe 99% of my work has been for PokerNews. The only time I can think of that I worked for someone else was when I covered a WSOP Circuit event in Tunica in 2015, just before I was brought on full-time.
My favorite gig was probably the 2015 WSOP, our first year not live reporting. I really got to stretch my wings as a writer and I think that, as a team, we just produced a bunch of great content.
My least favorite gig would be any time I worked in Tunica, which I think was twice. The place is awful.
What is it that you love about poker that keeps you so interested in the game?
Poker is such a beautiful game with so many levels of depth. Being around the game allows me to think about the game constantly, and having this job has elevated my own level of play by so much. Yet, there are still so many players who have reached levels far above me.
What sort of job(s) did you have before getting into poker writing?
My last job before getting into full-time poker writing was waiting tables, which I did concurrently in between my live reporting gigs. I spent about four years doing that.
In between tearing my ACL the first time and getting hired by PokerNews in 2013, I spent summer of 2012 painting streets as a temp and then got hired to work in an AAA call center in Omaha. I also played poker for a living when I was a college student, from 2008-2011.
Tell us a bit about your personal life; where you live, family, etc.
I’m 29 years old, born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. I grew up as the oldest of four siblings with three younger sisters – the youngest of the bunch is about to turn 22. My dad is Palestinian, my mom is a white American; both are remarried.
I’ve been dating a great lady named Lisa for over four years, and she has an eight-year-old son named Adrian.
How often do you play poker? Home games mostly or in poker rooms? Cash or tourneys?
Almost all of my poker nowadays is played in casino poker rooms. I came up in home games as well as playing for small stakes online. I try to play as much as I can, but there are definitely times that I go a month or more without seeing a hand.
Although, like most, I initially played sit n’ gos, cash game poker was my first real love. I have been transitioning more and more to tournaments though. I guess seeing people win tournaments gives me the itch to win one myself.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about poker writers/writing?
The strangest thing I’ve ever heard someone say about poker media is probably when Joe McKeehen proclaimed that we make more money than professional poker players. If only that were true, Joe.
Contrary to what some players might believe, poker writing doesn’t pay too much, especially if you’re a freelancer. Do you do any other sort of work, writing or otherwise?
I do a bunch of work for PokerNews‘ sister site, FantasyWired. When I was freelancing, I was lucky enough to lock up a job waiting tables at a place that was willing to be super flexible with my hours, so I could take chunks of time off for live reporting gigs.
What other hobbies do you have? Tell us about them.
I love to watch sports, bet on sports, play fantasy sports, and play sports. Unfortunately, that last hobby has caused me to need two knee surgeries, so I might have to take up golf or something instead of the high-impact stuff. I also enjoy running, lifting weights, cooking, and drinking a delicious IPA or red wine.
What do you enjoy writing about most in poker – lifestyle/feature pieces, op-eds, promotional stuff, tourney recaps, live/online poker news, or live reporting?
Feature pieces, especially where I can get quotes from multiple sources, are probably the most fun.
I look at them like a puzzle; how do I put this stuff together in a way that makes sense and tells the story I’m looking to tell?
What’s something you still haven’t yet done/accomplished in poker that’s on your bucket list?
I want to win a big live poker tournament. I’m not exactly sure how I define “big” but I feel like I’ll know it when it happens. I’ve been close a bunch of times, but it just hasn’t gone my way at the end.
Career-wise, I’d like to go down to Australia to cover the Aussie Millions and something in Macau at some point.
Alright, the stage is yours – go ahead and let loose about something you just HAVE to get off your chest.
If you bet the river as a bluff and someone calls you, just flip your damn cards over. Please, and thank you.