PERSONAL: Born in TX; married; wife's name Marieta. Education: University of Texas at Dallas, B.A., 1984; University of Texas at Arlington, pursued M.A. (public policy administration).
CAREER: Poker and gaming expert, media director. Worked on U.S. Senate committee, mid-1980s; U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC, beginning 1989, worked in Eastern Europe and with Bureau of Consular Affairs; speechwriter and information officer in Turkish Embassy, Washington, DC. Binion's Horseshoe, Las Vegas, NV, head of public relations, then media director; World Series of Poker, media director; PokerStars.com, director of communication; host of http://www.madjacksports.com.
(With Peter Alson) One of a Kind: The Rise and Fall of Stuey "The Kid" Ungar, the World's Greatest Poker Player, foreword by Mike Sexton, Atria Books (New York, NY) 2005.
Contributor to Poker for Dummies. Author of column "Tales from the Felt," for Card Player; and columns for Poker Digest and Casino Player. Contributor to The Intelligent Gambler, Gambling Times, Poker Pages, and Poker Player, and to gambling-related Web sites.
SIDELIGHTS: Nolan Dalla worked for the State Department for several years before his longstanding fascination with poker and gambling led him to a new career playing poker, betting on sports, and writing about both. He began playing poker full time in 1993 and started a poker column for Card Player in 1994. He has since written for numerous magazines and Web sites, created Card Player's "Player of the Year" tournament ranking, and worked as a media director in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Dalla began ghostwriting a book with poker player Stu Ungar, a man considered by some to have been the world's greatest card player. However, Ungar died before the work was completed, and Dalla published the biography One of a Kind: The Rise and Fall of Stuey "The Kid" Ungar, the World's Greatest Poker Player, with coauthor Peter Alson. The book tells a tragic story, showing how Ungar's life was shattered by drug abuse. His genius for cards was confirmed by three wins at the World Series of Poker and a fortune that was once estimated at thirty million dollars in prize money. But Ungar was also an abrasive and irresponsible man who was unable to manage his own affairs. A cocaine and crack user, he died at age forty-five, having lost it all, and had his funeral paid for by friends.
Reviewers commented on the difficulty of writing about Ungar. In Publishers Weekly a critic noted that the material, "as tragic as it is, becomes tedious," while the coauthors' approach is "heartfelt, respectful and accepting." A Kirkus Reviews writer found Ungar to be "an object of fascination, absolutely dazzling from a distance, increasingly noisome the closer you get."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2005, review of One of a Kind: The Rise and Fall of Stuey "The Kid" Ungar, the World's Greatest Poker Player, p. 573.
Publishers Weekly, May 30, 2005, review of One of a Kind, p. 51.
Poker School Online, http://www.pokerschoolonline.com/ (October 20, 2005), biography.