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Posted by on Dec 1, 2012 in Blog, General Poker, Las Vegas, Restaurant Reviews | 1 comment

Restaurant Review: Kelly’s (Las Vegas) / Dinner With Terrence Chan & Co.


Photos of Kelly's Restaurant, Long Beach
This photo of Kelly’s Restaurant is courtesy of TripAdvisor



It’s rare to get four very busy people who live in different cities together for a festive meal.  Fortunately, that was the occasion last night at a new restaurant located on Paradise Road, in Las Vegas.

I joined good friends Rich Korbin (who works for one of the better-known companies in the poker business — I’ll leave it at that), Glen Cadamartori (Marketing Director for Caesars Entertainment), and Terrence Chan (one of the best Limit Hold’em players in the world and currently a professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter) for drinks and dinner.

We chose a new steakhouse which just opened up about a week ago, called Kelly’s.

The following narrative will be a combination restaurant review and recount of our dinner conversation, which went three all-too-brief hours.



I’m a carnivore.  Morten’s of Chicago, Ruth’s Chris, Del Frisco’s, The Palm, Smith and Wollensky — pick any of these places and you’re guaranteed to enjoy a good meal.

Friday night, we decided to go a different route.  Since both Ruth’s Chris steakhouse locations have now closed in Las Vegas (victims of the economy, no doubt), we noted that a new restaurant had opened up at the old Ruth’s Chris location on Paradise Road.  This is positioned in a busy strip mall, across the street from Del Frisco’s.  In fact, Yoli’s — the excellent Brazilian-style steakhouse — is also located along the same row of businesses.

Kelly’s has only one other location, so their excursion into the highly-competitive Las Vegas restaurant market is a major step for the privately-owned landmark based in Long Beach, CA.

Indeed, “Kelly’s Restaurant” has been an institution in Long Beach for more than 30 years.  It’s very much an old-style “power lunch” kind of place.  However, given its close proximity to the ocean and fresh seafood, there are many other menu options, as well.  One has to wonder if this would be a rubber-stamp of the proven Long Beach venue.  Or, would the new owners decide opt for a different flair near the Las Vegas Strip.

Upon first glance, Kelly’s looks very much like what was the former Ruth’s Chris restaurant.  Perhaps when the new owners moved in, they realized that redecorating costs would be minimal, since the dark-wood, white-table cloth ambiance would perfectly match the atmosphere Kelly’s would be trying to create.

Some holiday decorations around the bar and dining area added to a festive feel.  That cordiality was enhanced by very personal attention from the host (actually series of hosts) which greeted our party warmly as we made our way to the table.

Upon taking a seat — the look, the feel, the atmosphere all are what one would expect at a first-class steakhouse.  Add live music in the bar area provided by a piano-playing crooner performing old standards, and you have all the makings of a great night out on the town.

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Posted by on Nov 28, 2012 in Blog, Las Vegas, Personal | 2 comments

A Day in the Life

Nolan Dalla Photo


I received an e-mail from a loyal reader recently which contained some good advice.  He made two suggestions for my blog. 

First, he wanted to hear more poker and gambling stories.  That’s a reasonable request.  So, look for more stories in the near future. 

Second, he suggested making my blog more personal by sharing things I do on a day-to-day basis. 

I must admit the thought to reducing this site to some kind of sick twitter update — such as informing the world of what I ordered for lunch strikes me as ridiculously narcissistic and utterly immaterial.  That said, I very much believe “who we are” is defined by “what we do.”  So, I will acquiesce to this occasionally and bore the world with the trivialities of my personal life.


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Posted by on Nov 26, 2012 in Blog, Las Vegas, Personal | 2 comments

Remembering Poker Writer Barry Tanenbaum (Video)

I loved Barry Tanenbaum.

I miss Barry Tanenbaum.

He passed away a year ago, this week.

For those who don’t remember Barry, he was probably best known for his widely-read column in Card Player magazine which ran for nearly ten years.  Barry also authored two excellent poker books — both on Limit Hold’em, which was his specialty.

Barry was a real poker pro.  He spent most evenings playing at the Bellagio, where the $30-60 Limit Hold’em game served as his office.  Barry’s contemporaries included highly-respected player-writers — including Roy Cooke, Mason Malmuth, Jim Brier, Dr. Alan Schoonmaker and others who wrote about the game as they played it for a living.

But Barry was so much more than just a poker writer and colleague.

He was one of the most decent men I ever met.  He was a genuinely good person.  He was both an intellectual and emotional mentor to those who were fortunate enough to know him.

Please take a few minutes to watch this short 11-minute video I made last year as a tribute to Barry.  The video was shown at his funeral.

A few notes about this video:  Special thanks to Betty Tanenbaum and Lupe Soto for providing many of the photos which appear.  Also, thanks to Ashley Adams, the excellent writer and radio personality who provided the two-minute audio clip of Barry which is heard during the middle of this video.

The first part of the retrospective shows Barry’s personal life.  The second interlude highlights his career in poker.




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Posted by on Nov 6, 2012 in Blog, Las Vegas, World Series of Poker | 0 comments

2012 WSOP Championship — Greg Merson’s Moment of Victory (Video)


Here’s a two-minute video clip of the final hand of the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event Championship.

While ESPN does a remarkable job in its coverage, this video shows what it’s like to sit in the audience and watch poker history unfold.

The film quality is average, but viewers get a pretty good glimpse into the excitement of the room that night, and how the crowd reacted at the Penn and Teller Theatre at the Rio Las Vegas.  This was shot at about 4:45 am on Oct. 31, 2012.

When I shot this video, I was positioned directly behind second-place finisher Jesse Sylvia’s supporters, who predictably had a much more subdued reaction to the final hand.  The bulk of Merson’s supporters are in the foreground and swarm the stage at the moment of victory.



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Posted by on Oct 28, 2012 in Blog, Las Vegas, World Series of Poker | 0 comments

2012 World Series of Poker Main Event Championship Coverage

2013 October Nine


Note to Readers:  Poker’s world championship will be played out this coming Monday and Tuesday at the Rio in Las Vegas.  You can watch coverage on ESPN. 

As I’ve done the past 15 years or so, I’ll be engaged in covering the Main Event Championship during most of the next three days.

You can read live updates, starting on Monday at 4 pm PST — which will be posted at:  OFFICIAL SITE OF THE WORLD SERIES OF POKER

I’m doing something unusual this year, which is covering the championship from the audience’s point of view — which means writing and reporting on the atmosphere and happenings inside the Penn and Teller Theatre, rather than just the stage and final table.  I’ll also relate some behind the scenes news.

I’ll return next week with lots of new material.


— Nolan Dalla


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