Come to any APPT event and it will be impossible for you to miss a tall, fit fellow in a suit and tie scurrying around the tournament floor. His accent gives him away as an Aussie, though from his last name - McDonagh - you might never guess that until he opened his mouth. His first name is Danny and he is, without a doubt, the soul and energy of the Asia Pacific Poker Tour.
Danny does it all for the APPT. He's the President. He's the Tournament Director. He takes turns in the cage dealing with registrations. He'll try to hustle erstwhile poker bloggers out of hard-earned pesos by prop betting them on anything tournament-related. He's the first in the door in the morning and the last out at night. He always has a smile for the players, a joke for the staff, and the work ethic and dedication that has made him an Australian Poker Hall of Famer.
Like many of the great tournament directors of the world, Danny puts the players first and foremost. He recently tweaked the APPT standard structure to give the players more play on Day 2 by removing the 800-1600 level and substituting a 700-1400 and a 900-1800 in its place. He was among the first TDs in the world to insist that if the final table chip average was less than 40 big blinds, the clock would be rolled back to the point that it became 40 big blinds.
In between events, when he's not on the APPT floor and when he's not dealing with the day-to-day business of running the APPT, Danny participates in some of the regional poker forums, soliciting feedback and responding to questions as appropriate. He is, in every sense of the phrase, a player's TD.
But don't think Danny doesn't find his fun along the way. Despite the long days sorting things for the APPT - or maybe to counter-balance them, he leads the charge at night. We wound up at the Battle of Mactan festival the other night, after the qualifier party wrapped up, at Danny's insistence. When the power went out, plunging the festival into darkness, he brought us all back to the Shangri-La for more drinks. At 2am he even cajoled the last stragglers into returning to the Battle of Mactan festival.
Today also happens to be his birthday. In addition to a (delicious) chocolate cake, the other APPT staff presented Danny with a gag gift - a giant cardboard gift certificate to Jollibee, the McDonalds of the Philippines, for 100,000 pesos ($2,500).
Danny wouldn't reveal his age, preferring instead to say only that that he's a Dragon in the Chinese Zodiac. "So hopefully I'm 36," he added with a grin.
Maybe he is, maybe he isn't. But as long as he continues to run the APPT with all the energy of youth, nobody will care how old he is.