He was arguably one of the best players ever to come out of Europe and, in particular, England. He was at times incorrigible, unrestrained, crass and boorish while simultaneously being an enchanting personality, funny, endearing and entertaining. He was the late Poker Hall of Famer David ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott and a documentary on his life will soon be shown on partypokerTV.
Teaser Reel Shows Respect for ‘Devilfish’
At the end of December, partypoker promoted the new documentary by putting out a teaser reel that featured several players giving their remembrances of Ulliott. Such players as former Hendon Mobster Barny Boatman, Simon Trumper, and Marcel Luske offer their anecdotes and thoughts on Ulliott, interspersed with shots of the ‘Devilfish’ in his natural habitat – the green baize of the poker table.
The “teaser” reel is perfect in that it gives you just enough without giving you the entirety of Ulliott’s story in its minute timeframe. It also isn’t the documentary that appears on YouTube that was reportedly found after spending 15 years in an attic. While that video showed a much younger Ulliott, reportedly around the turn of the century, the partypokerTV documentary should show much more as it looks like it was a thoroughly produced product.
A Life Well Lived
To detail out the entire life of Ulliott would be a Herculean task. Brought up on the mean streets of Hull, England, the youthful Ulliott would spend much of his early life as, for lack of better terms, a hooligan and criminal. Ulliott was quite honest during his life about how he was a thief and safecracker in his younger years, even serving time for his crimes.
At a certain point, however, Ulliott began to realize that a life as a criminal, going back and forth from jail, wasn’t the way to live. It was around that time that he picked up the game of poker and became a terror on the home game circuits around Hull. Ulliott’s attacking style and gift of gab at the table soon saw him earning a reputation as an outstanding player. His skills allegedly got so good that, very quickly, people would make sure that Ulliott WASN’T invited to the games, lest they lose their bankrolls to the burgeoning poker superstar.
Ulliott wouldn’t let being shut out from the cash games around Hull slow him down. His first tournament cash dates back to 1993 (courtesy of the Hendon Mob Database) and, in 1997, saw his first victory on U. S. soil at the 1997 Four Queens Poker Classic. It is allegedly this tournament, a $500 buy in Pot Limit Omaha event, where Ulliott would earn the ‘Devilfish’ moniker as he defeated Men ‘The Master’ Nguyen heads up for the victory. Nguyen allegedly commented that Ulliott had “the tenacity of a devilfish” and the rest, as they say, is history.
A catchy nickname, “knuckle dusters” that spelled out “DEVILFISH” on his hands and the look of a British hustler only served to enhance the Ulliott legend. He would win his only World Series of Poker bracelet in 1997 in a $1500 Pot Limit Hold’em tournament and picked up a World Poker Tour title in 2003. But it was the televised world of poker that truly embraced him.
The British television show Late Night Poker was Ulliott’s stage, appearing on all five series of the groundbreaking poker show. With the “lipstick cameras” used for the first time, it was Ulliott’s style and powerful playing approach which won over the audience. And it was an unheard-of audience for poker programming in 1999; more than 1.5 million people watched Ulliott win the first ever season of Late Night Poker and, because of this success, it could be said that Ulliott made sure that it was renewed for as long as it was.
When the end for Ulliott came, however, it came quickly. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in February of 2015 and passed away from the disease on April 6, 2015, at the age of 61. There was an overwhelming drive to induct Ulliott posthumously into the Poker Hall of Fame immediately after his passing, but he wouldn’t earn induction until 2017 alongside Phil Ivey.
If the documentary from partypokerTV is half as interesting as a simple recitation of his life through words is, then it will be very entertaining. No dates have been announced yet for when the documentary will premiere, but it should be a show that many in the poker world will be waiting for with bated breath!