Photo provided by Devilfish.com
Dave thinks back: “My house was so small when I was a kid they had to paint the furniture on the walls. You could put your hand down the chimney and open the door from the inside if you forgot your key.”
It did not take long at all for Dave Ulliott to get in contact with poker! As a child he would already sit down with his parents and carry out his first private poker tournaments on the kitchen table.
Dave’s youth was a rather difficult one. The young chap just could not stop getting himself into trouble. After his father had taken him along to the local bookie for the first time, he won his first bet at 50:1. From then on he started to spend more and more time with bookmakers illegally. Apart from that, he frequently started to hang out in pool halls and racing courses and in the end he was completely into horse betting.
In order to earn some money, Dave Ulliott soon got a job making trophies at G K Beaulah’s, where once again he got the opportunity to play poker. During lunch breaks he played against his colleagues, even though he never really won much. The most experienced poker player Dave was able to gamble with in those days, was a member of 51 Club Casino in Hull. Dave once explained:
“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 blackjack. 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”
Dave Ulliott soon lost his job after he failed to turn up one day. After all, he thought it was a better idea to spend the afternoon at the race course than at work. His boss obviously did not think the same way.
Dave was eager to improve his poker skills, but always had to face the fact of being broke. One day he entered the same poker room as a furniture trader from Hull. Dave had brought along his grandfather’s clock and showed it to the trader and asked him to accept it as a buy in. This was the day when people started to refer to him as "Dave, the Clock".
At the age of 19, Dave Ulliott got involved in a fight on his way home from the “Golden Nugget Pool Hall”. The young Ulliott was attacked by five couples at once and one of the guys slashed his face when he tried to protect his younger brother. Still, he was able to defend himself and managed to get back home eventually. Later Dave Ulliott claimed, that he was proud of the experience and the incident made him realise, that he could not be beaten in a fight “inside”.
Things got worse, when Dave became member of a safe-cracking team and got involved in several break-ins. The team collaborated with shop owners, who had planned to carry out insurance fraud. One day Dave lost £ 5,000 at the bookmaker and made up the loss by simply stealing the bookie’s safe and pushing it home in a pram. One of his team-mates was eventually caught by the police and revealed Dave’s involvement. A week later Dave was caught and he spent three weeks in a small prison cell in Hull’s police station before he was sent to Leeds Prison for 9 months. Shortly after his release he was arrested yet again because of armed robbery. This time he was let go without charge.
At the age of 28, Dave Ulliott was arrested because of a fight at a night club and served 18 months in Leeds and Durham prisons. During this time he met John, with whom he planned the next coup - a bank robbery on the day of discharge. John was immediately re-arrested and Dave Ulliott was smart enough not to go any further. Today Dave Ulliott recalls:
“When I was in my twenties, I’ll admit I was a hell-raiser. I got in with the wrong ones and did my time in Durham – probably the worst prison there is. It’s not something that I’d like to go through again but it strengthened my character.”
It seems like Dave Ulliott has finally changed his attitude. After his last jail sentence he bought a jeweller’s shop, which he still runs together with his second wife.
Back on track - from gangster to poker pro
One of the things Dave Ulliott could never stop though was playing poker. Probably because of the fact he had got better over time. He organised poker games in his jeweller’s shop and started to win quite frequently. Dave’s long lasting betting passion had also outlasted the years and he got the chance to prove his betting skills plenty of times.
In the year 1990, Dave Ulliott got to know Gary Whitaker, a café manager from Wakefield, in a Leeds casino. Six nights a week they entered poker games together and it was Gary who went and placed Dave’s bets after Dave was banned from all William Hill betting shops for too successful gambling. Whitaker agreed to be Ulliott’s regular driver after Ulliott took part in a regular game and Whitaker held a 10% stake in his action.
Over the years Dave Ulliott had improved his poker skills to such an extent, that in the year 1996 he managed to win £ 100,000 in less than two weeks.
In 1997 he was desperate to take part in the World Series of Poker. He was able to put $ 200,000 aside for the tournament before he entered, but he lost the whole money on cash-games and tournament buy-ins. Therefore he borrowed $ 70,000, which of course was gone in no time too. Somehow he managed to knock up another $ 2,000 buy in for a Pot Limit Texas Hold’em event. Going through all the trouble was worth it in the end. Dave finally kicked more than 240 participants out of the tournament, including poker legends like Chris “Jesus” Ferguson and finally he sat heads-up with Englishman Chris Truby. Dave Ulliott won the tournament and received $ 180,310 prize money as well as his first Gold WSOP bracelet.
Other major highlights in Dave Ulliott’s poker career are i.e. the second place in the WSOP 1998 “$ 3,000 Texas Hold’em Pot Limit”, where he won $ 103,200 prize money and another second place in the WSOP 2001 “$ 2,000 No Limit Texas Hold’em”, where he walked out with $ 150,480 prize money.
In 2002 he entered the third “Annual Jack Binion World Poker Open” in Tunica, Mississippi, where he came fifth in one event, winning $ 61,110 prize money and he came first in another event, receiving $ 123,772 prize money.
Dave Ulliott earned an awesome $ 589,175 after he had eliminated all opponents in the fourth “Annual Jack Binion World Poker Open” in 2003. He came first in the “British Open 2004” too, winning $ 162,250. He also reached the final table at “Poker Million – The Masters 2004”, finishing in second place and receiving $ 125,000.
The year 2007 was again a very successful one for Dave Ulliott. He won $ 109,192 in the “2007 Gold Strike World Poker Open” No Limit Texas Hold’em event, when he came first. Soon after he took part in the “Annual Five Diamond World Poker Classic”, where he outplayed all other participants once more and received $ 266,160.
Dave Ulliott’s previous nickname “The Clock” had already been replaced by a much better one in 2001: Devilfish! Dave explains:
“The Devilfish was given to me by a Chinese guy in Birmingham by the name of Stevie. This guy likened me to the Devilfish because I’m very aggressive and I give ‘em the needle after I take the money off them. The Devilfish is the blowfish that only a few chefs can prepare – if they don’t take the poison out right it’ll kill you. Gary, who drove me around, was there at the game. We walked out of the game and I forgot all about it. Three months later I was playing against Men The Master in the Four Queens Omaha tournament and nobody even knew me over there. It was only me and him left, heads up and somebody yelled out “Go on, The Master!” Right out, Gary shouted “Go on the F-ing Devilfish!” He’d remembered all the way from three months back in Birmingham. And the headline on the flyer the next day was “Devilfish devours The Master.” I went back three months later, won a gold bracelet and put Devilfish on it for a bit of fun. It’s better than naming yourself Slippery Ass or something.”
Dave Ulliott’s favourite poker variant is Four Card Omaha.
Dave Ulliott also played a role in a film called “Poker Face” and published a book named “Swimming With The Devilfish”.
After all this success over the years, what are Dave’s plans for the future?
“I’m making this website, www.DevilFishPoker.com and I want to build it up and make a bunch of money. It’s up and running and it’s fantastic. It’s like a gangster site. You come up to this steel door and the grill comes across and this ugly face comes up and decides if he’s going to let you in. You go in and sit down in the brickwork room, give yourself a gangster name and get going. There’s already like 15,000 people playing.”
“It’s the best there is and it’s cheaper than everywhere else. Not only that, but I give away a free DVD with every purchase. And the DVD is great because I’m funny. Some guys doing these DVDs should be hypnotists – they send you right to sleep. But, this is good stuff.” ... by the way, Dave was not trying to advertise of course...
Dave about online poker, money and women
Dave reckons that most poker players who play solely online do not have the slightest idea of what they are doing. That is why he believes it is so hard to play against them. Dave has even opened up his own online poker room recently: Devilfish Poker.
It does not seem like Dave Ulliott thinks very much of poker playing women:
“It’s always good to look at someone pretty at the table – who’s not me. But if you ask me whether women can ever be as good as men at the table, then I reckon, no. There are good players out there like Lucy Rokach – she’s a Rottweiler – but in general women just aren’t aggressive enough.”
Once somebody owns as much money as the Devilfish, you might ask what the money is spent on. As a matter of fact an interviewer wanted to know what the most extravagant thing was, that Dave had ever spent money on. Dave answered:
“Well, I threw $ 40,000 in the trash can in Paris. I put a bag into the safe, which I thought was containing $ 40,000 when in fact it was containing rubbish. And I left the $ 40,000 in a similar-looking bag on the floor, which I thought was containing rubbish. So, I walked out and put it in the wheelie bin. The next day, I realised it and went to the people who handle the rubbish and instead of mentioning that I lost $ 40,000 in a bag, I told them I’d lost some keys and wanted to know if I could get the bag back. They said “No, it goes straight off the truck and into the incinerator.” So, that was the end of that.”
When the interviewer asked him, if he was drunk at the time, he simply answered: “No. I don’t need to be drunk to do stupid things.”
Away from the poker tables
Dave still lives in Kingston Upon Hull, his hometown and has two ex-wives and seven children. While he was working at G K Beaulah’s as a trophy maker, he had a common-law wife with whom he had a son called David. With Susan, his first wife, he had two children named Darren Paul and Kerry. After his first marriage broke down, he met Amanda (Mandy) Ashby, who became his second wife. They had four children together before they also got divorced.
Dave’s greatest hobby besides playing poker is music. He plays the guitar and the piano and even became a member of a band as a teenager for a short time.
One day a reporter visited Dave Ulliott in his house to make an interview and he said: “The way you see me in my house is the way I really am. If people are nice to me, I’ll be nice to them. If people are aggressive to me, they’re going to get it ten times worse. I don’t like obnoxious people, bullies and people who push you around town centres.”
When he is not just out to play poker, Dave Ulliott still works as a jeweller. You can see that, when having a closer look at the self-made rings on each hand. He engraved the word “Devil” into one and the word “Fish” into the other ring.
Dave Ulliott’s poker colleague Robert Williamson III once characterized the Devilfish: “He’s like one of those trained guard dogs – lots of bark, not much bite! The kind of guy who you actually want to hang out with - a regular beer-swilling kind of guy.”
So what is the Devilfish’s secret? Dave reveals: “I like to excel at everything I do – whether it’s making love or playing poker, I like to be the best. I live a bit of a James Bond lifestyle really. I have the biggest wardrobe of anyone I know, I drive a Hummer, a Lexus Convertible, travel round the world and earn a shit load of money. When you look like me, it helps for sure.”
Dave Ulliott’s made his ambitions clear to everyone by saying: “I’d swim across shark-infested waters with a pork chop hanging around my neck in order to play the best poker players in the world.”
Dave really trusts his poker skills and definitely has the right to do so – he is simply one of the most excellent poker players around!
This is the Devilfish in a nutshell ... partly human, partly mysterious, but without any doubt a poker legend!
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