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Las Vegas' Doug Dalton Returns Home To San Diego

Dalton To Serve As Ocean's 11 New Executive Host


Doug DaltonAfter 15 years running the most successful poker room in Las Vegas, Doug Dalton leaves Bellagio to return to his hometown of San Diego.

Just like a Super Bowl post-game MVP interview, California’s King of Clubs, Haig Kelegian, asked his good friend what he wanted to do next. Without missing a beat, Doug replied, “I’m going to Ocean’s 11 And as simple as that, Doug Dalton is Ocean’s 11 Casino’s new Executive Host where he will be focusing his efforts on High Limit action and player services.

Ocean’s 11’s long-time Casino Manager, Steve Gallagher, is excited to have Doug join the team. “You never pass up a chance to work with one of the industry’s top poker managers. Doug knows poker, but more than that, Doug knows players. He is a great addition to our already outstanding team.”

Born and raised in San Diego, Doug left home after graduating from Grossmont College to play poker among the bright lights of Las Vegas. Unlike today’s young guns venturing to Las Vegas to make their fortunes at the tables, the poker scene in 1970 was quite different. “Back then, the biggest games in town were $10 and $20 seven card stud. You couldn’t find a Texas Hold’em game.”

Unable to make a living as a player, Doug opted for the other side of the game. Doug could hardly know that friends he made at the poker table would turn out to be the catalysts for a lifetime spent in poker and remain his closest friends 40 years later. Doug met one of his closest friends, Chip Reese, back in the early 70’s. At the time, Chip had a lease on the poker operations at the Dunes and made Doug his assistant from 1978 to 1982. Chip’s passing still brings a tear to Doug’s eye. At the Dunes, Doug became good friends with poker icons Doyle Brunson, Bobby Baldwin, Erick Drake, and others. After Chip left the Dunes to play poker full-time, Bobby Baldwin gave Doug a job as shift manager at the Golden Nugget poker room where he worked until 1988.

Ocean's 11 Casino In San Diego, CaliforniaWhen the Golden Nugget closed its poker room to make way for expansion, Doug returned to San Diego to run the Oceanside Card Club. Back then, Oceanside Card Club was the place to play in San Diego and was owned by his friends Doyle, Chip, and Len Miller. After two great years in Oceanside, he returned to Las Vegas in 1990 running poker rooms for the Mirage and Treasure Island until 1998. Finally, he spent the next 15 years as Director of Poker Operations at Bellagio.

Doug says that building the Bellagio poker room into the city’s premier card room was the result of decades of managing rooms and interacting with players. “I’m just a guy doing my job to the best of my abilities for my friends”, Doug says. “And the poker players are my friends. I don’t see myself as an executive, but just a guy on the other side of the table, trying to give the players what they want!” Doug is quick to credit others for his success, including Lyle Berman, Jack Binion, and Eddie Miller.

Doug has also had a long relationship with Bellagio’s tournament director, Jack McClelland, who is widely recognized as the father of tournament poker. Doug recalls the two of them in 2002 discussing the crazy possibility of expanding tournaments to once a month. Within a few years, Doug, Jack, Haig, and others also had the foresight to position their gaming properties, Bellagio and Bicycle Casino, on the ground floor of a burgeoning television project called The World Poker Tour. The rest is history. Thanks to Doug and Jack, Bellagio now hosts major televised tournaments each year and Bellagio is the mecca of tournament play in Las Vegas.

Joining Ocean’s 11 Casino has been long overdue for Doug who told Haig about the opportunity to buy the club and was later tapped by Haig to run the new casino in 1997. Haig says, “I tried hard to pull him away from the Mirage, but he said he was having too much fun to leave.”

Over the years, Doug has remained a close friend of Haig’s and has kept a watchful eye on the San Diego poker scene. When Haig asked him again to join Ocean’s 11, he recalls saying, “I told Haig that he and Steve Gallagher have done an outstanding job over the years building and maintaining Ocean’s 11’s reputation as San Diego’s Home for Poker. I wasn’t sure how I would fit in.” With all the ease of a guy who knew he was holding the nuts poker hand, Haig responded, “Do what you do best. Take care of the players!” And so it came to be that after 16 years, Doug and Haig are finally on the same team.



over 9 years ago

There is no better Poker Room in San Diego county. They have more games, better pllayers, superior dealers and a nice set of rooms to play in all the time. The other Clubs or Casions are smalll and offer very little game play and action. So for San Diego it is premier and for S. CA it is one of the best to play poker.