I quit my job on February 1st 2005 to form a company called “All In Production” with my friend Greg Lang. We had this truly wacky idea to create a new poker TV show called The Heartland Poker Tour. Looking back it was a foolhardy idea and we were so far over our heads we didn’t have a clue how hopeless the situation.
Shortly thereafter, sometime around March of that year, I got an appointment with a guy named Nolan Dalla. Nolan was wearing two hats at the time (probably more) as Director of Media for the WSOP as well as for Pokerstars.
I’ll never forget that meeting with Nolan as it was very influential to me and the future of HPT. We met in the café at the Golden Nugget. All I had with me was a laptop with a logo on it. No pilot. No business plan. No glamor shots. No sizzle reel. Virtually nothing. I told him our story, told him the concept (put “real” people on TV) and showed him the logo. That was it.
In the eight weeks since leaving my real job, I’d been hit daily with negative commentary about my choice. “You’re crazy” was a pretty common phrase coming out of people’s mouths. Let’s just say there weren’t a whole lot of people jumping on the bandwagon at that point. I didn’t exactly have people lining up to invest in the idea of two Fargo guys starting a TV show. And they were right.
Meeting with Nolan was the first time that someone got really excited about the idea of creating a TV show for “regular” poker players. He instantly “got it.” We ended up talking for two hours about how we could get this show off the ground. And with his position at Pokerstars, he assured me that Stars would love this idea and offer to underwrite the production.
I left that meeting on cloud nine. The first thing I did was call my business partner with the news that we might have sponsor in addition to our laptop and our logo! Nolan’s energy and enthusiasm was so contagious the he actually put ME in another gear. If that meeting didn’t take place I really don’t know if HPT would have made it.
Full disclosure: Pokerstars did not sponsor us that first year, unfortunately. But the fact that Mr. Dalla was so positive we were onto something was a catalyst for keeping us moving forward. I’ll always owe him for it.
As the years went by and HPT grew, I always kept in touch with Nolan. We’d meet once a year for a drink or dinner to catch up. It wasn’t long before he was one of my favorite people in the poker world.
A year ago HPT was sold, and Greg and I became free agents. Greg formed an TV endurance racing show (which is going great), and I decided to pursue a new dream, that being to create something new and revolutionary in the world of TV poker. One of the first people I met with was Nolan Dalla. Just like the first time he was really excited about my new concept. I wanted to hire him right away but Nolan is no dummy.
He had a good gig with WSOP Circuits and what did I have? A logo. Nolan said he’d be interested if we got a little further down the road! Like I said, he’s no dummy. So today I’m very happy to announce that Nolan Dalla is joining us at Poker Night in America. After all these years, I finally get to work with this man that I so deeply respect. I’m honored that he’s taking the plunge. And as I’ve told him many times, this is no sure thing. It’s a very ambitious project and it’s going to be damn hard to get this off the ground. Giddy Up!
– Todd Anderson
Nolan’s blog post can be found here: