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Devilfish ⎯ Godfather of Crime?

by Padraig Parkinson |  Published: Feb 07, '10

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I think it was the year the first day of the Irish Open was played in the Russell Court hotel. The night before the big day, Scott Gray, Alan Betson, Macker and the rest of the usual suspects were playing Omaha in Dublin’s Jackpot club. The atmosphere was electric. If you’ve ever played the Irish Open, you’ll understand.

A stranger came into the club, which was quite an event in those days. He was a tall guy with strange glasses and a leather jacket. He had a square head, so we guessed he was Dutch. He parked himself behind Alan and made a speech in a language we didn’t understand, it was full of poker jargon so we assumed he was telling bad beat stories. Alan lost the pot he was in and turned around to the guy and politely asked him, “Are you mistaking me for someone who gives a fuck?” It turned out that the guy was a professional poker player called Dave Ulliott who came from Hull. This explains why we couldn’t understand a word he said, but not the square head.

The guy was to become known as Devilfish and quickly built himself a reputation as one of the most feared and famous players on the planet. Fame changes a lot of guys but you always get the impression that Dave is happiest surrounded by poker people and laughter. His wit at the poker table is legendary.

One of my favourite Devilfish moments occurred several years ago in the Aviation Club in Paris. It was late at night and both the ’Fish and I were stuck and playing accordingly. We were playing pot-limit Omaha high-low, which isn’t a great game for steamers, but it was the only game in the place, so it was just going to have to do.

A big pot developed, I put in way too much with a lot of crap before another raise from the ’Fish, and a reraise all in from Paul Testud finally convinced me that there wasn’t much future in me seeing the flop, but the ’Fish was committed.

All the money was in the middle and he showed me his hand. He had K-10-8-2, three diamonds and a heart. I started to laugh but Dave managed to keep a straight face and in explanation said to me that he thought it was high only, otherwise he’d have passed!

Another time, Scott, Alan, and I were walking through the card room in Binion’s. Dave was there, playing a heads-up cash game with Sammy Farha. Alan couldn’t help himself and pointed out to Dave that, as he was on a sequence of four second place finishes at final tables in World Series of Poker bracelet events, perhaps his game selection was a little suspect. Without looking around, the ’Fish muttered something about needing the practice.

Over the years, Devilfish has certainly proved both that he’s a hell of a player when he’s taking it seriously, and that you can entertain and win. In the man’s own words, “If there were no fucking characters, there’d be no fucking game.”

In this game, you get used to the unbelievable, but last week, I think I heard the best ever. I was talking on the phone to Jesse May and somehow or other we got to talking about Devilfish. He told me that a few months ago he’d been talking to one of the new, young, American stars of the game. This guy impressed me quite a lot when I played with him a couple of years ago, when he was about 13 or 14, and I thought he was a very clever player.

Obviously he’s not that smart when you take the two cards out of his hand because he told Jesse that the ’Fish was a shit player and a big loser in cash games who financed his poker losses through his earnings from crime. The ’Fish makes no secret of the fact that he wasn’t exactly an angel when he was younger but that’s about it.

If you don’t believe me, there are two pretty solid pieces of evidence to back up my story. Firstly, between playing poker and partying, the man barely has time to sleep, let alone look after a criminal empire. Secondly, if you’ve ever been to Hull, you will no doubt be aware that even if the ’Fish stole the whole city and used it as collateral for a buy-in at Bobby’s Room, he’d probably end up owing a few quid.

Padraig is currently involved with Jesse May in hosting Irish Pub Poker Tours for medium-sized corporate groups. For info you can contact him on Twitter @padraigpoker.

 
Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of CardPlayer.com.
 

Comments

R.J. Stuffnpuff
almost 12 years ago

The more Fish stories the better. I love to hear all of the insane sh*! that went on "back in the day". I'm surprised the Devil hasn't gutted Tony G in a back alley by now.

 
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okay84
almost 12 years ago

''A stranger came into the club, which was quite an event in those days. He was a tall guy with strange glasses and a leather jacket. He had a square head, so we guessed he was Dutch.'' WTF, im dutch, is that how you see the dutch?!

 
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cantona
almost 12 years ago

NO

 
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MrSydney
almost 12 years ago

yep, blockheads every one of them lol

 
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cantona
almost 12 years ago

I THINK IT GOES BACK TO THE HEADGEAR THEY WORE IN WILLIAM OF ORANGES ARMY

 
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cantona
almost 12 years ago

I met him in Paris yesterday.Noone has read it to him yet!

 
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