– General Introduction –
Dave Ulliott, also known by his nickname “Devilfish”, was a British professional poker player and gambler. He was born on April 1, 1954 in Hull, England and passed away on April 6, 2015.
While he made money as a criminal during his youth, he ended up making enough from poker and sports betting so that he could quit that life. He appeared on the cult classic TV show Late Night Poker in its first season in 1999, airing on the British TV channel Channel 4.
He also won a WSOP gold bracelet in the $2,000 Pot Limit Hold’em event in 1997, and went on to amass $6.236 million in live tournament cashes.
His famous nickname “Devilfish”, was given to him by a Birmingham poker room owner named Stephen Au-Yeung. It is a reference to the fugu, a poisonous fish that is served in Japan – which can also kill you if it’s not prepared correctly. Ulliott was also recognizable for his distinctive apparel. He always wore tinted prescription sunglasses, either a suit or leather jacket, and brass knuckle rings which had “DEVIL” and “FISH” written on them, made by Ulliott himself.
– Key Career Dates –
- 1997: He wins his first WSOP gold bracelet after finishing first in the $2,000 Pot Limit Hold’em event for $180,310.
- 1999: He starts appearing on Late Night Poker, a popular TV show on Channel 4.
- 2007: He finishes 3rd in the $15,400 Doyle Brunson Classic No Limit Hold’em event at the Five Diamond World Poker Classic at the Bellagio for $674,500. That is the biggest single live tournament cash of his career.
- 2017: He gets posthumously inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.
– Dave Ulliott’s Career –
→ Beginnings ←
In a 2006 interview for the now defunct website texasholdem-poker.com, Ulliott shared his earliest experiences with card games.
“I used to play a bit with my mother and father at the kitchen table. The turning part was when I started working making shields and trophies. At lunch time, they used to play poker during the break. I started playing plain draw poker – and losing – and one of the old boys in the game, this old guy called Jack, was a member at the only casino in Hull.
It was this very small, shady casino called the 51 Club. I was quite a tall kid for 15, and he signed me in there. I started playing this game called Three-Card Brag. I ended up getting lots and lots of money at that game because I could track the cards coming around. It was like tracking the Aces and Jacks in Black Jack.
Anyway, I started playing this Brag game, then I went to Strip-Deck Stud Poker, which is the same game Steve McQueen played in ‘The Cincinnati Kid.’ And, I played that game for 20-odd years in Hull until I couldn’t find a game. They used to move the game if they knew I was coming.”
As we wrote in our intro, the young Dave Ulliott didn’t just make trophies for a living – he also did a few property crimes, mainly cracking safes. He even served two prison sentences, one for 9 months and one for 18 months. So, eventually becoming a professional gambler was a welcome change for the better even by conservative standards. He was staked by a cafe manager named Gary Whitaker early on in his poker career.
→ Live Tournaments ←
Ulliott has $6.236 million in live tournament cashes, according to his Hendon page. That sum is the product of ITM finishes in 227 different live events over the course of 21 years. He’s in the top 10 on England’s all time money list.
The first recorded cash on his profile is from January 1993. He finished 6th in a £200 7-Card Stud event at the Grosvenor Spring Classic in London. That 6th place finish was just enough for him to get back his buy-in, £200. In July 1995, he came in 2nd in a £300 Pot Limit Omaha event for £5,925 at the Festival of Poker, also in London. The next year, in June 1996, he took down a £100 Pot Limit Hold’em tournament at the Grosvenor European Open Championship for £11,325.
The first time he made a live cash for over $100K was at the 1997 World Series of Poker, with his first gold bracelet victory – more on that later.
In January 2003, Ulliott finished first in the $1,100 No Limit Hold’em WPT event at the Jack Binion World Poker Open in Tunica, Mississippi for $589,175. He beat 10-time WSOP champion poker legend Phil Ivey heads-up for the title.
In December 2006, Ulliott won the $2,100 NLHE event at the Five Diamond World Poker Classic in Las Vegas, Nevada for $266,160. And finally, in December 2007, he came in 3rd in the $15,400 Doyle Brunson Classic No Limit Hold’em event at the Five Diamond World Poker Classic, back at the Bellagio in Vegas, for $674,500. That is his biggest single live tournament score.
→ World Series of Poker ←
Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott has won one WSOP gold bracelet during his career.
In 1997, he took down the $2,000 Pot Limit Hold’em event for $180,310. He beat the American Chris Turby heads-up for the title.
However, that is not Ulliott’s biggest WSOP cash. That is his 3rd place finish for $349,811 in the $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha Rebuy event from 2007.
In 2005, he made another 3rd place finish, this time in the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event for $232,205. In 2000, he came in 2nd in the $2,000 No Limit Hold’em event and won a cool $150,480.
Overall, Ulliott has cashed in 33 World Series events for a total of $1.708 million combined.
→ Live Cash Games ←
Ulliott was a staple feature on the classic British TV show Late Night Poker on Channel 4, which helped popularize the game of poker in the UK. However, on that show, the players always played in a tournament format, not cash games.
Also, he was a regular in the world’s most famous super high stakes cash game room, Bobby’s Room at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
→ Online Poker ←
Ulliott does not have any accounts with publicly tracked results, cash games or MTT’s, that are known to be his – but he did own an online poker room. It was devilfishpoker.com, which he sold for £330,000 to unknown buyers in November 2010. That domain is now dead.
In the Full Tilt Poker invitational event at the 2005 Monte Carlo Millions, which was broadcast live on the Fox Sports Network, he flashed a sign on his jacket advertising his poker site after being eliminated in 3rd place. However, that was against the rules of the FSN channel, so he got banned from ever appearing on any of their productions.
Given the fact that Ulliott came to poker from the criminal world, he managed to keep his behavior relatively under control throughout his career.
He was known to be one of the big talkers at the table, in the vein of Tony G, Mike Matusow, or – from the later generation – Will Kassouf. Naturally, this upset some people. He was also known to be deliberately late from big poker TV productions, just to tilt his big name opponents before the game.