Devilfish Blinked Back: The King is Gone but Not Forgotten

More to the picture than meets the eye.

The Devilfish has moved on to better games.

Captain Cancer won the last hand against Devilfish this Monday at home with his family.

He leaves behind a wife, eight children and 61 years of Rock and Roll.

From his last interview I take this piece of wisdom from the legend:

“I love my family. Life is all about family, the rest doesn’t mean anything.

"You do get a few friends that walk in to your life and stay there, but in general life is all about family.”

The Rest is History

David Ulliott
Consider HOF induction a formality.

Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott was dealt a poor starting hand in Northern England where his home was so small they "had to paint furniture on the walls."

Like all dynamic personalities it took some time to mature.

Devilfish cracked safes (plenty), had some street fights (many), and did some time (but only twice) before he found poker.

His success soon outgrew his welcome in his hometown. He was banned from gambling halls, banned from bookmakers and banned from friends-with-pretty-sister’s houses.

The rest is history. A very entertaining history. You can read it in Devilfish: The Life and Times of a Poker Legend. And you should.

"My my, hey hey, it's better to burn out than to fade away"

The Definition of Devilfish

In the nineties we Europeans did not have the respect of the American players. They always tried to intimidate us and make us uncomfortable at the poker table.

We had to fight for it, and for our place at the tables. Nobody fought better than Devilfish.

David Ulliott and James Woods
Could out-talk the best of them.

He could play and he could out-talk the best of them. Actually, all of them.

To be inducted into Poker's Hall of Fame you must have played against top competition, played for high stakes, played well and gained the respect of peers and stood the test of time.

Well, that is the definition of Devilfish and his poker career.

Doyle Brunson has come out and suggested that “the Fish” should get his honor and his place in history, and so he will.

Consider Devilfish inducted into the Hall of Fame just a matter of months and formality.

Devilfish amassed over $6m in tournament winnings. He won a WSOP bracelet but also had three second places and three third places.

When knocked out he always went straight to the highest cash games. It was always PLO, and that was his favorite game.

Instant hero for European poker.

An Instant Hero

My first WSOP was 1997. I was rooting for the Europeans and Ulliott won a bracelet in Pot-Limit Hold'em.

With a nickname like Devilfish and an appearance like his, he became an instant hero of mine.

Later we became friends. But those are other stories. I will tell them later.

A blog post about the biggest character the European poker scene has ever seen is not enough. Not fucking close.

PokerListings usually doesn't print a lot of cuss words but how the fuck am I going to write a piece about the fucking Devilfish without the fucking F-word?

I’m sure Devilfish would agree that it's utterly fucking impossible. He'd probably say something like this:

“Tell those fucking cunts that’s fucking bollocks mate.”

My strongest memory of Devilfish is every time he got three-bet when he had position in PLO.

He always told the guy that he was an idiot, didn’t understand the game, and that he was about to be broken.

Find the Good-Looking Girl, Find Devilfish

Find the girl, find Devilfish.

Actually my strongest memory is his world-class one-liners. Like on Late Night Poker when the TD told him not to cuss in front of the dealer.

“I was cussing AT the dealer.”

Devilfish won the first televised poker tournament in the history of the world. He became an instant hero with his larger than life cool, attitude and game.

He was a big reason for the poker boom in the U.K.

The Devilfish was always the center of attention, at the poker table or off the table.

When you walked into the bar where the poker players were hanging out you could always find him by looking for the best-looking girl.

He was always standing in front of her. Or alternately you could look for the Devilfish by finding the good-looking girl, if you were more into that.

I was more into the Devilfish. I loved listening to his stories and one-liners. He loved it too, until he found a guitar or a piano because he loved that even more.

Those Were the Nights. And Mornings

The pubs close early in London. After the game at the Vic we often went to The Metropole where the hotel bar was open all night.

Extraordinary lives make extraordinary people.

The Irish had Guinness. The Swedes had Guinness. And The Devilfish had the piano.

Irish drinking, Swedes drinking and Devilfish singing, all night long - those were the nights. And mornings.

My strongest memory of Devilfish is him with his round sunglasses on the tip of his nose, blinking at me.

My strongest memory is also… You know what, there are so many memories, and they are all strong, because the Devilfish had a strong personality.

Even when he was down to 10 big blinds he tried to bully the table, and he did. But most of all he always entertained.

Extraordinary lives make extraordinary people. Extraordinary people live extraordinary lives.

The king is dead but not forgotten; this is the story of Dave Ulliott. It's better to burn out than it is to rust.

He could have told you so, and he always did.

David Ulliott
Every memory is a strong memory.

Regret the Things You Don't Do

He told me to come to Hull where he would show me a grand old time. I knew he would make good on the promise.

I wanted to go. I planned to go. But I never went. Now it’s too late.

You should never regret the stupid things you do. You should embrace them as learning experiences, in poker and in life.

You should regret the things you don't do, because you eventually will. And should.

Devilfish never had any regrets, because he always did things.

There’s more to the picture than meets the eye. Hey hey, my my, Rock and roll can never die.

I poured a whiskey when I got the terrible news. I stepped out on the terrace and looked up at the stars in the dark night. I raised my glass and saluted him.

The Devilfish blinked back.

About Ken Lennaárd:

Sweden's most controversial poker blogger Ken Lennaárd has been around the professional poker circuit for almost 20 years. Among his numerous accomplishments are Swedish Championships both live and online, three WSOP final tables and over $1.5m in live earnings. He's now bringing his singular poker voice to the English world via Look for new posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Note: Opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not represent the views of

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