Dave Ulliott is one of the most recognisable faces in the game and perhaps the most well known British player thanks to a long and successful career at the tables and the fact that he is certainly not reluctant to be the centre of attention.
Ulliott was a card player from a young age but with the concept of tournament poker not really having caught on in the UK at the time, he spent many years travelling round the country to play in private games where he earned a fearsome reputation. Having honed his game on the domestic scene, Ulliott burst onto the world stage in 1997 when two tournament victories in Las Vegas saw him really make a name for himself. In January 97 Ulliott found himself heads up against Men Nguyen in a small tournament at the Four Queens Casino. In response to the loud support Nguyen was receiving from his followers on the rail, Ulliott’s friend Gary Whitaker replied with cheers for The Devilfish. It was a nickname that had been mentioned in passing at a game in Birmingham a few months previously but hadn’t resurfaced until this moment, but the victory over Nguyen which ensued became notable as the moment when the name of Devilfish stuck
Later that year Ulliott’s return to Vegas for the WSOP had been going badly after some heavy losses at cash games. Having scraped together a buy in for the $2,000 pot limit hold’em, he turned things around completely with a victory to become only the third Englishman to win a bracelet.
The arrival of Late Night Poker on British television in 1999 was something of an experiment but it was one that proved successful thanks to many of the characters that took part, Devilfish included. Victory in that inaugural series saw his stock rise even higher to become a household name in the UK, appearing in The Sun newspaper, a tv series and hosting his own poker website.
Frustration would follow with several near misses at WSOP final tables, but the Devilfish still found plenty of success elsewhere with a World Poker Tour title in 2003 for over half a million dollars, and a third place in a 2007 WPT event for more money still. Devilfish is head and shoulders above the competition on the England all time tournament money list with over $5 million worth of cashes and there should be plenty more to come. 2007 represented his biggest haul in a calendar year so it seems there is plenty of life left in the old fish yet.
(Adam Noone Jan 2009)