David ”Devilfish” Ulliott, The gangster who became legend in poker

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

by Bogdan Fechită

 It’s been over a year since poker lost David Ulliott. The one who got his nickname “Devilfish” gave up the fight with cancer at the age of 61, but left behind the image of one of the most active and biggest poker players, with 231 cashes throughout his career, according thehendonmob.com.

David was born in 1954 and was the son of a British paratrooper in World War II who became a truck driver after conflagration had stopped. He grew up in a small house in a working class neighborhood and shared his room with his sister – Janet, who later died also from cancer. Ulliott was hardly attracted to school, so at 15 he abandoned it and got a job in a factory that produced medals and trophies.

His first contact with gambling and its first problems

While working in this factory, he began to go with his father in different betting agencies. Driven by his first bet he won with a share of 50:1, David started to gamble more often, especially on horse races. In fact, he got fired from work because he left during labor to bet.

He was only 19 years old, and his life was marked by uncertainty, so David took on a wrong path. He got involved in a criminal group that committed robberies in different locations. After losing 5.000 pounds in betting, Ulliott with his team had robbed the agency, but one of his friends was caught and sang him to the police. He tried to run for a week, but he was found and arrested by the police. He received a sentence of nine months of which the first two months he was to isolation 23 hours per day.

After his release he returned to crime, so he was arrested again for armed robbery, but he got away after only three days. He got a job in a sawmill, but he didn’t give up to his former gang and he was still involved in various criminal activities. At 28, he was arrested again while he was in a nightclub and received a sentence of 18 months.

During this period, he was befriended with a killer named John, with whom he planned a bank robbery when they would be released. However, the day the robbery was planned to happen, the killer was arrested by a team of policemen, and David was advised by his wife to give up the life he leads, not to get back behind bars. Soon, Ulliott’s life will change, he will fall in love with a girl and with her help he will be able to quit committing illegal activities.

Initiation into poker

David started playing poker since he was a child, with his parents. At 16, he learned the game “three card brag” and begins to frequent the casino Hull’s Fifty-One Club. After he married the second time and gave up crimes, Ulliott was dedicated to poker and started to organize matches where he invited his friends in the shop he was working. He won all the time, so his friends were reluctant to play with him.

Since 1993 he moved to professional poker and started to be increasingly present in different tournaments in England. His first winning in Poker Database was in January 1993, when he finished in 6th place at the Grosvenor Spring Classic where he won 308 pounds. It wasn’t a big gain, but that did not discourage David.

In September 1995 he participated in America to his first poker tournament at Four Queens Poker Classic, Las Vegas, where he took the 7th place and earned $ 5.250. Three years later he got his first cashes at WSOP, where he won one of the events. His excellent results on WSOP has repeated in the subsequent years, David managed to reach 33 cashes at the biggest poker tournament in the world.

He participated in WPT tournaments where he earned a title, he was present at two final tables and finished eight times in money, but unfortunately on EPT he came once to get an award. Its biggest gain in a live tournament was $ 674.500 for 3rd place, achieved in 2007 in Doyle Brunson WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic. He gathered a total of $6,218,292 of the 231 cashes as professional, but this amount does not include the many games he organized on his own or other high stakes poker games he played.

How he beaome “Devilfish”

Initially, David had the nickname “The Clock”, but since 2001 it became “Devilfish” (diabolic fish). In his autobiography, Dave reported that the nickname was first given in Birmingham, by a Chinese player who described him thus, because he was very aggressive in game. Later, to an event where he remained alone in the game against Men Nguyen, the fans of the Vietnamese player began to encourage him chanting “Go on, The Master”. In the tournament it was also present his good friend, Gary Whitaker, who has not left inferior and chanted to him: ”Go on, Devilfish!”. Ulliott won the tournament in front of Men, and the next day the posters and newspapers titred “Devilfish destroys the Master”. Since then, this remained his nickname in poker. David loved so much this nickname that he made two rings on which it was written “Devil” and “Fish” and wore them all the time.

Battle with cancer

In June 2014, at the Monster Stack event within WSOP, “Devilfish” managed his last cash. He finished on place 265 and took $6.368. After this tournament, he began to feel increasingly worse, so his appearances at the poker table were sporadic. In February 2015 he was diagnosed with colon cancer, and a month later he died at the age of 61.



– He was married three times

– He was frequenting casinos since he was a minor

– Although he became a famous poker player, he preferred to live in Kingston upon Hull, near the place where he was born.

– He met Gary Whitaker in 1990, and he became a sort of manager, but also a good friend. Gary encouraged him to devote himself to poker and he was there for him in all important tournaments and events.

– He was passionate about music and learned to play the guitar and piano

– From poker he admired and respected Johnny Chan.

– He engraved his nickname of “Devilfish” and on the gold bracelet he won on WSOP

Author: Editor

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