2015: The hero and villain

The poker world sadly said goodbye to Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott earlier this year

Hero – Dave Ulliott

One of the games most colourful characters passed away earlier this year after a brief battle with cancer. The contribution Ulliott made to poker, especially in the UK, is immeasurable and there was a strong campaign to get him inducted in the Poker Hall of Fame.

Ulliott made the shortlist, but not the final cut – as voted for by a small media panel and existing Hall of Famers. Instead, John Juanda and Jennifer Harman became the 49th and 50th members. No one would argue with their inclusion, but the Poker Hall of Fame is now almost exclusively American, with only one European in the group, Edmond Hoyle, who died in 1769. The way the voting goes, this US-centric nature is only likely to get worse in the future.

As we said, ‘It’s easy to justify the status quo by arguing the merits of individuals that make it into the Hall of Fame. It’s harder to justify the fact that for the Hall of Fame, poker doesn’t exist outside of America.’ We hope Ulliott makes it into the Hall of Fame in the future but for now, he’s our Hero of 2015.

Villain – Amaya

This might be controversial, but after years of being the poker site that put players first, 2015 represented a misstep for PokerStars under its new owners, Amaya. At the end of October a press release was leaked detailing major changes to its player rewards, which would have a hugely detrimental effect on higher stakes players. High volume pros were furious and staged the first of a number of boycotts of Stars at the beginning of December.

Daniel Negreanu, a PokerStars pro, said he ‘finds the whole thing embarrassing’ but that he’s privy to future changes which will put things into context. He said things were communicated badly and that he disagrees with some of the moves, but that it’s part of a masterplan to put recreational players first. At the moment though, the changes mark a lot of taking and not much giving back. Hopefully Stars will put things right in 2016.

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