My friend Nolan Dalla

Be warned right away, this has nothing to do with online gaming, but at least the internet is involved.

The setting is Las Vegas, the Mirage Poker room, shortly before midnight in early August. I had been playing limit Texas Holdem for a while already, when a new player comes into the room and is sent to our table. He looked familiar from afar, and when he sat down across from me, it became clear. It was Nolan Dalla, the poker author. I knew him, he didn’t know me, nor did he know that I knew him. So I was waiting for a chance to introduce myself. In poker, the best chance to introduce yourself is after you beat somebody in a hand. Which I did. I think. It’s been a while.

A good number of years ago, make it 20, I was bitten by a bug. The gambling bug. I had come across ¬†a few articles on the internet telling me that blackjack was beatable and how to do it. Some research brought me to the usenet group rec.gambling. Blackjack lost its charm quickly, since the casinos don’t like you if you know what you are doing. Which brought me to poker, the other subject the usenet group was discussing.

At that time, say 1995, you weren’t a serious poker player if you didn’t read Cardplayer Magazine. One of the columns I read regularly was “Tales From the Felt” by Nolan Dalla. It was only a small surprise to see him participating in the discussions on rec.gambling.*. The group of people discussing poker in a serious, almost scientific approach was small and if you were halfway internet savvy, you’d end up in this group.

To top it off, this group’s been meeting annually in Las Vegas for 22 years now. It’s called BARGE. Most of the time we’ve met downtown, since the majority of people were students on a budget when it all started. Not so much anymore, since a couple of them have become rich and famous, winning World Series of Poker bracelets, becoming poker commentators, .com millionaires or are helping out on Wall Street. Some of them succeeded in more than one field.

Over the years I’ve met Nolan at every BARGE I participated in and a few times on other occasions. He’s always come across as a smart man with many interests and a career in the US foreign service. Which gives me the European connection to him, since he’s been stationed in Romania in 1989 when their regime came down in a bloody conflict. What are you going to do in an embassy while the world outside turns upside down? Host a poker game and make contact with the rebels. And meet his future wife Marieta, a Romanian native.

Nolan is now Communications Director for the World Series of Poker. He’s ¬†published the biography of Stu Ungar, 3 time winner of the World Series of Poker main event and tragic genius. It’s titled “One of a Kind”.

I am glad to help Nolan Dalla with his next undertaking, a blog to publish his writings of many years. Writings that go far beyond the poker essays I know, travel reports, the events of the Romanian revolution, politics (after all, he has a degree in Political Science) and much more. I am looking forward to read many more of his essays and to learn more what’s going on in his mind.

See for yourself at


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