Brothers in Arms

Happy endings

Before this year’s WSOP you had both been so close to big wins but it would often end in disappointment. Were you starting to think you were destined never to win a major event?
BB: Since the poker boom we have hit the crossbar so many times. And that is what it is like for most people most of the time. We felt like we were massively due and I think Ross especially is massively due. I remember being in the $25k WPT Championship and we were down to the last two tables. I had just over average chips and got all-in preflop with K-K vs A-K. It came two Aces on the flop and first prize was $3m back then.
How was Barny’s WSOP win from your perspective Ross?
RB: Words can hardly describe it. It was just wonderful. As the evening progressed the British rail built and built and built. Everyone started coming over, from Steve Watts to Matt Perrins and Sam Trickett. All the young faces were texting and tweeting each other. Barny’s opponent heads-up was taking it all so seriously. But it was as if Barny was oblivious to it all. He was having a great time and so relaxed yet so focused too. He obviously felt the energy of the crowd behind him. At one point he won a pot, jumped up and pulled his jumper over his head and he was wearing a Union Jack t-shirt and started wiggling his bum! He was pleasing the crowd as well as focusing on the game. It was absolutely amazing. To see Barny winning a bracelet was magical and I was so glad that I was there and the first one over the rail to wrap my arms around my hero and give him a big old hug.
Aside from the $546,000, how important was the WSOP title and winning your first bracelet?
RB: I know it’s not cool these days to say you wanted to win the trophy or a bracelet. It’s cool now to say that it’s only the money that counts. B%@%ocks. Anybody who says that is a f*@%king liar. It is really important. To see my brother have a dream come true was really important for both of us and I was delighted to be a part of it.
Barny, you said in a PokerPlayer interview that if Ross wasn’t there the win would not have meant anything. What did you mean by that?
BB: This is a journey that we’ve been on together. We have rolled with every punch and felt each other’s pain so many times. We are best friends and we really respect each other as players. Quite frankly, I don’t think I would have won if Ross hadn’t been there. I knew how much me winning would mean to him. If I couldn’t share that it would not have been the same. Also, Ross was there to present me with the bracelet and that was brilliant.
How will you stay motivated to play poker after this?
BB: If anything, having had a result takes a weight off your shoulders. It tells you that a big win is possible. It was beginning to feel like there was some glass ceiling that wasn’t allowing me to go all the way and finish off an event. We get to these positions all the time and then you have to run good at the end. Getting from nine-handed to heads-up I just ran well. I flopped two sets in that final and got paid both times – you need that to win something.

The Boatmans on the Devilfish

Barny and Ross know every major personality in the history of UK poker, and they don’t come much more controversial than Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott. We asked the brothers their thoughts on the Hull bad boy…
RB: I love Dave, he is a f%*$ing living legend. We both go back a long way, he liked to think that he took me under his wing and taught me about the game. I remember being heads-up with him once in a PLO tournament in Paris and I check-raised him. He was absolutely outraged that this little punk that he had taught how to play was doing that!
BB: He is the absolute definition of a self-made man and really smart. He invented himself as a poker persona. He was the first, the original and the best. Dave is capable of great acts of warmth and kindness – and because of that you find yourself tolerating behaviour from him you would never do yourself or would never endorse from anybody else. 
Early in my career we were deep in a tournament in Vienna and I took a bad beat and got knocked out. It was a big deal to me. Dave took me to dinner when I didn’t know him well – he gave me some great advice and said I’ll have my moments in this game.
And then there was the time in Slovenia when only me and him were left – everyone else had gone home. I was in my room and he knocks on the door. I open it and Devilfish was there with a hooker from the casino he had bought me as a gift – he couldn’t understand when I declined! He means well but he doesn’t always get it right…

The fifth Mobster

There are only four members of The Hendon Mob but, as Barny tells it, one unlikely lady could be the fifth mobster…
BB: Vicky Coren is one of our oldest friends in the game and we often say she’s like the fifth mobster. She deserves as much credit as anybody for the success we have had. Vicky was there pushing and writing stories about us [before we got our sponsorship deal]. She’s a very good player too and has been making money in the cash games at the Vic forever. Apart from being a legendary player in the game her special contribution has been that as a writer and communicator she knows how to make things accessible and talk to different audiences. She has had a lot to do with bringing poker to the mainstream and elements of the media where it wouldn’t have otherwise been known about. Vicky is capable of intellectualising about poker at the highest level but she’s also skilled at pitching her work at the right level for her audience. In a lot of ways she has been on the same mission we have been on [all along].

Capture the Flag

The Hendon Mob’s website is one of the most popular in the game. But the famous database, recently sold to the Global Poker Index, evolved almost by accident…
BB: Around 2002 we had a deal with a betting exchange where we’d price up poker markets on their site. To create interest we put up a little database on of the top 100 players that were going to be playing. But then we would get people asking why their results weren’t on there. It became an asset for us and we took the decision to make it the best database around.
RB: I have mixed emotions about selling the site. It is a relief in some ways and nice to turn a page but it’s still sad to leave it all behind.
BB: The thing is, our legacy is still there. We just knew it was the right deal at the right moment because Alex Dreyfus (CEO of GPI) has a lot of resources, a lot of energy, and he wants to do everything in poker. The moment was right for everyone and it was a good deal.

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