Poker Hall of Fame Opts for Phil Ivey, David ‘DevilFish’ Ulliott
In conjunction with the conclusion of the 2017 World Series of Poker’s summer festivities, the WSOP-affiliated Poker Hall of Fame (PHOF) has announced the two prominent poker players who will be inducted into the PHOF this year: Phil Ivey and David “DevilFish” Ulliott.
Ivey’s election in his first year of eligibility was no surprise. Having turned 40 earlier this year, Ivey was widely expected to sail into the Hall on the back of his 10 career bracelets an numerous other poker-world accomplishments.
Per the WSOP:
Ivey is well known throughout the world for his poker prowess and checked all the boxes required for consideration. Ivey sits fifth all-time on the live poker tournament money list with $23,856,034 in winnings, and this does not take into account any of his online poker or cash game play. Ivey is the youngest player in WSOP history to amass 10 victories, and just this year turned the required minimum age of 40 to be considered for Poker Hall of Fame induction.
“I want to thank the living members of the Poker Hall of Fame as well as the media who voted for me to be part of the Poker Hall of Fame,” Ivey told the WSOP. “It’s an honor to be inducted alongside legends like Chip Reese and Doyle Brunson. I love the game of poker and the game has done a lot for me. I am one of the lucky people who has been able to make a living playing a game which was always my passion. Thankfully, I’m just as passionate about the game today as when I first stepped into Binion’s Horseshoe to play my first-ever WSOP. Thank you to my family, my friends, and all the poker fans across the world that supported me on this journey.”
It’s worth noting the Ivey was elected in the first year in recent memory in which he did not attend or play any WSOP events. While a couple of other prominent pros have floated cover stories on his behalf — “the cash games around the world are just too good right now” — Ivey’s absence from the WSOP can be traced at least in part to his ongoing legal battles over his “edge sorting” mini-baccarat gambits, involving the Borgata in the US and Crockfords in the UK.
Ivey testified in the UK Crockfords matter in a UK Supreme Court appeal a little over a week ago, a date which fell smack in the middle of the WSOP’s Main Event and likely prevented his participation, However, Ivey participated in no other WSOP events, despite being present in Las Vegas at least some of the time in recent weeks, playing high-stakes cash games.
Conjecture offered to this writer on that topic centered on the difference between tourney and cash-game winnings. Tournament winnings are widely reported and could thus become the target of a claim in one or both of the continuing lawsuits, while cash-game profits are intrinsically harder to track.
Not that such a circumstance affected Ivey’s eligibility or enshrinement shoo-in for the PHOF, but it did make for a curious framework of circumstances.
Then there’s the DevilFish, the late David Ulliott (at right), who was elected in his third time as a finalist. Ulliott’s election this year will likely calm for a couple of years the claims that the WSOP has always been far too Vegas- and US-centric, though that’s actually still true. Ulliott was certainly a seminal figure on the UK poker scene, and his election this year is something of a pleasant upset.
Per the WSOP again, summarizing DevilFish’s career highlights:
Ulliott, who passed away from cancer in April, 2015, gets the ultimate recognition in poker for his role in growing the game in England. From Kingston Upon Hull, Ulliott was a fixture on Late Night Poker throughout Europe, which helped show the game of poker on television and the “Devilfish” was a true character who captivated audiences and kept them tuning in. He won a WSOP gold bracelet at the 1997 World Series of Poker and was a fixture at poker tournaments for more than two decades.
An Ulliott family spokesman said, to the WSOP and PHOF, “As a family we would like to thank the general public, media and current Poker Hall of Fame members that voted David into the Poker Hall of Fame. We know he will be up there strumming on his guitar and probably asking what took so long! How he might say it – I think you all know! There isn’t a day that goes past when we don’t think of him and miss him but today we are so proud and delighted that he takes his rightful place in poker history – the legend of the Devilfish lives on! One thing we know he would be happy about is the progress of John Hesp in the Main Event, a regular at Napoleon’s in Hull, David’s home city in the UK. John represents what poker is all about – a true game of the people. There are too many people to individually thank but we would particularly like to thank Rob Yong and Simon Trumper of Dusk Till Dawn in Nottingham for their support and also we would like to thank Leon from Kings Casino in advance for offering to commemorate David’s induction into the Poker Hall of Fame at the WSOP Europe in October. Just remember, as the Devilfish would say – ‘Life is a blast. It doesn’t last. Live it long and live it fast’.”
Ulliott’s star has shone a bit brighter following his untimely passing in 2015, which, as often happens, tends to draw a curtain over most people’s rougher edges. It’s safe to say that Ulliott was not always the most popular person in poker, yet his importance to the game and to its growth in the UK and across Europe overshadows that, and it’s the reason for the honor.