Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott…..Thanks to a Legend!
I was dealing cash games at Bonapartes Casino (Now Napoleons) in Sheffield in 1997 when I first met Dave Ulliott.
I had been dealing the poker games for about a year. I was one of the few dealers that could handle the big cash game that “Devilfish” used to turn up for. He would always arrive early and would always take the same seat directly to my right.
He had just won his first WSOP bracelet at the time and was starting to really make a name for himself in the USA. He would often dominate the table with highly aggressive play.
At the end of the session, he would hang around on the table rather than stand in the queue for cash desk to cash in his chips because he hated queues. So we would often talk about poker. Being the keen poker player that I was, I was eager to learn from him.
I knew ahead of time that he had won the first series of Late Night Poker on Channel 4. Dave asked me to keep it quiet as the programmes hadn’t been shown yet.
To me he was a “god” even then and the words of wisdom that he gave me still resound in my head today. I recall one of the things he once said to me in typical Ulliott style when he said:
“Carl….do you want to know the secret as to how I win”?
On hearing this I was all ears. I leaned in to listen carefully without anybody else being able to hear us. He leaned towards me over his pile of cash and chips and said
“When some young prick wants to play a pot for two hundred quid, I tell him….nah…don’t think so son….we are going to play a pot for a grand….now let’s see how much he likes his “f*****g top pair now”
I listened but never really took on board the real wisdom of what he was saying. For years I thought his game was all about balls and not much else. It was only when I read and understood the style used by Prahlad Friedman (Spirit Rock online name amongst others) that I fully understood the power of Ulliotts’ game.
I can honestly say that I would never have ventured into playing PLO if it wasn’t for the lessons given to me by Dave Ulliott which were all totally free of charge. If he thought you liked poker and wanted to learn, he would only be too quick to help you.
Which kind of pisses me off when I hear people rip him to pieces because of his past. Which by the way, you can see in what for me are two great books that cover his life and career, both of which I have read and own!
Little did I know that some years later, I would be having a conversation with Dave when he was in Vegas with regards to writing a cash game book with him.
Dave being Dave and he wanted huge money just to get out of bed and so it never transpired. I think I would have struggled to get Dave’s style into print anyway such was the subtlety of his game.
I recall seeing him dominate the Jack Binion WPT event in 2003 picking up over half a million dollars. Even Mike Sexton said it was the most dominant performance he had ever seen in the WPT.
I can thank Dave from the very bottom of my heart for so many things. Mainly my keen interest in poker and my initial success in cash games when I made over £20k in 1999. This started me on the road to eventually playing poker full time. When I told Dave that I was turning pro as an online poker player he said:
“Never get an ego son and always remember to play against the mugs”
Brilliant in its simplicity but that was Dave Ulliott for you. As I have said before…..”Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. These were the words of Leonardo Da Vinci and many considered him to be a genius.
A combination of talking with Devilfish and reading “Big Deal” by Tony Holden was what really fuelled my desire to play poker. In a way, they indirectly helped me to eventually design and build SNIPER and build my own stable of players.
Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott was one hell of a poker player and one that was an absolute legend of the game. He was one player that very few players in the world would have wanted to play heads up in a live game.
So thanks Dave and you sure as hell deserve a place on my site. I hope that somewhere up there, you are once again killing the cash games and making them have it……RIP Dave Ulliott…..oh and Dave…you really did give us plenty of laughs. I knew your sense of humour way back and you could always take a beat 🙂
Carl “The Dean” Sampson – June 2016