Dave "The Devilfish" Ulliott - Poker Legend Dave Ulliott
Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott was born around 54 years ago in the city of Hull, England, where he experienced quite a turbulent youth. Ulliot was not exactly a model student and as a result, he quit school at the age of 15. After taking on numerous little jobs without any success he ended up getting involved in crime and it didn't take long before he made a name for himself in the streets of Kingston upon Hull.
Ulliott, who was born as the son of a WWII parachutist, came into contact with gambling at a relatively young age. While working for a company that made family crests he would often go over to the horse racing track during his lunch breaks to place bets. After winning his first 50:1 bet, he decided to go to work less and less, which eventually led to him getting fired.
Since Ulliott did no longer have a job, he chose less conventional ways to make money. He got involved with a group of criminals who specialised in safe-cracking, especially those in kiosks, garages and shops that weren't exactly above-board themselves to reduce the chance of them getting caught.
Ulliott's criminal 'career' was going fine until a member of his group dropped his name during an interrogation. As a result, Ulliott ended up behind bars for a period of 9 months. Once out of jail, he picked up where he left off and it wasn't long before he had to spend another three days in the cell. He ended up being released without charges.
Still not having learned his lesson, Ulliott kept up his lifestyle and at the age of 28, he was arrested again, this time spending 18 months in jail. Upon his released, Ulliott planned to pull off a bank robbery together with a criminal named John, who he had met in prison. However, John was arrested on the day of the robbery, and on advice of John's wife, Dave decided to go straight. Soon after that he met his second wife and there is no evidence that Ulliott has broken the law since.
After these tumultuous times in the underworld, Ulliott decided to get back to horse races and playing poker, something he had been doing since a young age. Towards the end of 1990, Dave and his good friend and chauffeur Gary Withaker travelled all over the country to play as many poker games as they could find. Withaker also placed bets for Ulliot in the local betting shop, where Ulliott wasn't allowed in anymore, and together they managed to turn £4,000 into about £70,000.
The poker games that Ulliott was involved in during those days also featured other well known players such as Dave Colclough and John Shipley – not a bad line-up for a local game. When Ulliott made his first trip to London to play in the games over there, he realised that the players in London weren't as easy to get off their hands as he was used to. He decided to adjust his game a little and became a very successful player in the London poker circuit – something that was still pretty dangerous in those days. It's not unknown that Ulliott always carried a weapon with him when playing in case the game would once again get out of hand. There are even stories about Ulliott firing his gun in the air to stop people from robbing the game.
According to stories, it seems like Ulliott was already quite the poker player back in those days. Apparently he once lost a huge £60,000 pot against an Irish player called Donnacha O`Dea (who later won a bracelet at the 1998 WSOP). Ulliott kept on playing the entire night and ended up with a profit by the end of the session. There was also a day on which Ulliott played in five different cities and walked away with a profit of at least £35,000 from each of the five games.
After years of playing cashgames, Ulliott then started to focus more on poker tournaments, which in those days were nothing like they are today. Ulliott booked his first result in 1993 and kept on improving his tournament game until he won £100,000 in one week in 1996 in The Vic casino. This encouraged him to take his best friend Gary Withaker on a trip to Las Vegas, solely for the purpose of playing poker there.
It is the year 1997 when Dave Ulliott ends up sitting heads-up against Men "The Master" Nguyen in a $500 Pot Limit Omaha tournament. This match paved the way for the nickname 'Devilfish', the name that Ulliott will carry with him for the rest of his poker career. While Ulliott was slowly chipping away at Nguyen's stack, Nguyen's fans started chanting "Go Master Go!". Thereupon Gary Withaker decides to encourage his friend by shouting "Go Devilfish!". After Ulliott ended up winning the tournament the local media reported: "The DevilFish devours the Master". Since then Dave Ulliott is known as The Devilfish throughout the poker world.
The name Devilfish originates from Japan and is the name for a poisonous fish, also called Tako, that can kill when ingested, if not properly prepared. Ulliott first got the nickname during a live game in Birmingham shortly before going to Vegas. Au Yeung, the man running the live games in Birmingham, made up a nickname for every player who would play there often and win. Other well known players such as Surinder Sunar (The Cobra) and Micky Wernick (The Worm) also got their nicknames from Yeung.
In 1997 Ulliott makes his World Series of Poker debut. He came to Vegas with a bankroll of $200,000, but ended up losing the lot in cashgames and tournaments. He then borrowed $70,000, which he then also lost. He just about managed to get together $2,000 to play the Pot Limit Hold'em event, and one day later he made it to the final table. Ulliott now seemed to have the luck that he had been missing the weeks before and he ended up winning the event and his first (and to date only) WSOP bracelet after hitting his straight draw against the pocket pair of his opponent Chris Turby. After winning his first WSOP event, Ulliot decided to engrave the nickname "DevilFish" on his gold bracelet.
In the weeks to follow Ulliott had the time of his life and won between $10,000 and $20,000 every day in cashgames. At some point Ulliot was playing heads-up pot limit Omaha against the wealthy business man and 3-time bracelet winner Lyle Berman. Ulliott left the table with $168,000 profit, and by the end of his trip Ulliott had made around $750,000. This money was taken back to the UK in suitcases, where he was welcomed like a hero by the local poker circuit.
Ulliott started making a name for himself internationally after appearing on Late Night Poker in 1999, where the hole cam was used for the very first time. This invention made sure that the viewers at home could see the player's hole cards and how the hands were being played – something that led to a great increase in poker enthusiasts across Britain. During the preliminary rounds Ulliot managed to beat well known players such as Joe Beevers and Surinder Sunar and ended up winning the event and taking home £40.000.
Probably more important than the money was the publicity that The DevilFish created for himself with his eccentric personality and the way he spoke to his opponents. Seeing as more than 1,5 million people watched the final table of Late Night Poker, the name DevilFish immediately became a household name in Britain. Ulliott also appeared in all later series of Late Night Poker but only managed to reach one more final table.
Dave Ulliott is known for his appearance as a proper gentleman, combined with his trademark glasses in all kinds of different colours. He also wears a gold knuckleduster ring on each hand, one reading "Devil" and the other reading "Fish", just to make sure he is recognised wherever he is. Furthermore, Ulliott is barred from participating in any form of sports betting or betting on races after he managed to regularly beat the odds for years, making bookmakers anything but happy. At some point he even had his friends place bets for him until even his friends were banned from placing bets.
Ulliott's biggest success to date came in 2003 where he won an event during the first season of the World Poker Tour at Binion's Horseshoe, Tunica Mississippi. He bagged $589,175 for this win after beating a field of 160 opponents. During the final table Ulliott eliminated four of his 5 opponents by himself and ended up sitting heads-up against none other than Phil Ivey. According to the commentator Mike Sexton, Ulliott was one of the most dominating players he has ever seen at a WPT final table. During the second season of the World Poker Tour Ulliot was invited to take part in the Bad Boys of Poker Event, where he unfortunately busted on the bubble.
One of his most recent successes dates back to December 2007 where he came third in the WPT Doyle Brunson Classic, taking home $674,500.
His attempts to secure a second bracelet at the World Series of Poker have yet to succeed, but that's not to say he didn't come very close. After his bracelet win in 1997 he reached another 4 WSOP Final Table heads-ups, coming 2nd all four times, twice after losing his final hand with Aces. His most recent WSOP success was a third place in the $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha event in 2007, making him $332,582 richer.
Despite all his success at the WSOP he kept on falling short of a second bracelet. In total he has 26 WSOP cashes to his name, putting him in 55th place just behind Surinder Sunar who is in 48th place with his 28 cashes. This list is still topped by Phil Hellmuth with 69 cashes. In his 10 years of being active at the World Series of Poker, Ulliott has won around $1,400,000.
At this moment, Ulliott's live tournament winnings exceed $5,300,000, putting him in first place for the UK All-Time-Money-List.
Today Dave Ulliott has seven children and lives in his birth town Kingston upon Hull.