Dave Ulliot – The Devilfish
Dave Ulliot died on 6th April 2015 after a battle with cancer. He will be missed and fondly remembered by the whole poker community.
- Nickname: The Devilfish, The Clock
- Facebook: Dave Ulliot
- Twitter: @devilfish2011
- Birthdate: 1st April 1954
- Died: 6th April 2015
- Birthplace: Kingston upon Hull, UK
- Residence: Kingston upon Hull, UK
- WSOP Bracelets: 1
- Biggest Win: $674 ,500
- Total Winnings: $6,017,402
Dave Ulliott was well-suited to the tension of high stakes poker games. He knew how to talk the talk and can bluff with the best. But in poker, a single card can ruin the best-laid plans. See the story of a classic game near the bottom of this profile to see just how true that can be. With over $6 million banked he was the second highest earning British poker player after Sam Trickett .
Dave Ulliott grew up on a council estate in Hull and played cards with his mother and father at the kitchen table from an early age. Uninterested in education, he left school at fifteen without qualifications and went to work making trophies for a company called G K Beaulah’s. Soon after his father took him to a bookmakers and he won the first bet he placed on a horse with odds of fifty-to-one. His work breaks began to become dominated by gambling, either on the horses or at the card game he had recently learnt, poker. However, gambling began to take over and he was sacked from his job when he was caught skiving off of work to go to the races.
What followed was a life of crime as part of a team of safe crackers. At first things went smoothly with everyone in on the scam, the police were bribed and the shop-keepers got their insurance payouts. But, after some time, arrests were made and Ulliott ended up in jail, spending his twenty-first birthday in solitary confinement. After he was released he went back to his lawbreaking ways and was arrested for armed robbery though released. Later he was involved in a fight and imprisoned again for eighteen months in 1982, again he spent most of his sentence in solitary confinement.
When he had finished serving his sentence this time, he got married for a second time and by all accounts went on the straight and narrow. Ulliott and his new wife Amanda (Mandy), opened a pawnbrokers shop with the winnings from his gambling which over time, developed into a jewelry shop. He tried to continue with the poker and race betting on the side but few people invited him to games as he would usually win, he is still banned from some bookmakers for a similar reason.
In 1990, Ulliott met Gary Whitaker and the pair began travelling with each other to games around the country where Whitaker would put up money in return for a stake in the winnings. He also accompanied him to private games that were often played in dubious surroundings. Ulliott used to carry a gun with him to these games and once fired it into the air to scare off a group of defeated players who were ready to jump him for his winnings.
In 1993, he had his first taste of tournament play and began to play regularly at the Victoria Casino in London. He remained successful in cash games too and Stevie Au-Young, one of the organizers of one particular game he frequented, likened Ulliott to a devilfish, a notoriously difficult to prepare fish that is poisonous enough to kill if not cooked properly. A few weeks later, Ulliott found himself in his first Las Vegas heads-up in the Pot Limit Omaha Four Queens Poker Classic against Men Nguyen. Nguyen’s supporters were encouraging him with cries of ‘Go on the Master.’ In response, Whitaker, who was at the rail, shouted ‘Go on the Devilfish’, and after Ulliott took the title, the moniker stuck.
Just three months later he won a World Series of Poker bracelet, at pot limit hold’em. It remains his only WSOP bracelet to date, though he has come close on several occasions, finishing second four times and third twice. In 1999, he became a household name in Britain when he won the first series of the poker show Late Night Poker. The program was the first to use ‘hole-cams’ which were cameras that showed the players’ cards whilst the hand was in play. It cemented the popularity of poker in the UK and an unprecedented 1.5 million people watched Ulliott’s win.
Since then, Ulliott had success on both sides of the Atlantic, including victories at the British and French Opens and four titles in tournaments affiliated to the World Poker Tour. In 2004 Ulliott was honored with the European Poker Lifetime achievement award. His biggest cash finish was in December 2007 at the Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic when his third place finish earned him $674,500. He used to be a regular at the notorious Ultimatebet.com.
In 2010 his autobiography entitled DEVILFISH: The Life & Times of a Poker Legend was published, it was reprinted in 2011 and is still selling well. He was also a keen guitarist and pianist who crooned in the style of Elvis Presley, as he showed when he sang live at Jennifer Harman’s charity poker tournament.
Some habits die hard and, despite accumulating vast legitimate earnings, he had been known to carry his winnings in polythene bags. Unfortunately, that did once lead him to throw away $40,000 in a Paris bin and return home with a similar looking bag of rubbish. He also lost his once trademark sunglasses but none of his skill. He still owned the jewelry business but poker is where he earnt the most, one of the most successful British poker players ever, having won over $6 million.
Party Poker Premier League
Having wound up Phil Hellmuth by being over an hour late to a Party Poker Premier League game, Ulliott found himself seated next to him at the table. Hellmuth with K♦ 2♦ called from the small blind position and Ulliott turned to face him. He looked at his cards which were K♥ 5♥ and decided to check. The flop was 10♣ 3♣ Q♣ and both players quickly checked. The turn was a J♣ and Ulliott gave a chuckle. Hellmuth, looking worried, bet 10,000 chips as Ulliott dryly told him, ‘Well, I know I’ve got the five of clubs pal, is that good?’ Ulliott matched his bet as Hellmuth bit his lower lip, a frown forming on his face. Ulliott sat back in his chair observing Hellmuth, reveling in the discomfort he was causing the other man.
Hellmuth’s face had given the game away and to Ulliott it was obvious he was not holding any clubs. What should have been a tense moment as the final card was turned was dissipated when the 5♣ was drawn on the river. Everyone at the table including Ulliott burst into laughter as his bluff had dramatically failed. Hellmuth clapped his hands in relief and checked. ‘I’m playing the board’, Ulliott said and the pot was split. ‘I was going to take that right off you until she spun that on me’, Ulliott observed. The rivalry between the two would last throughout the Party Poker heats and Hellmuth would get lucky each time. Once he hit a straight with 7♥ 5♥ against A♠ 8♠ and another time beat Ulliott’s pocket aces with pocket nines. ‘Have you ever seen such a lucky guy in your life?’ Ulliott asked before blurting out some rather stronger sentiments.
Last updated April 2015