Top 10 nicknames

‘What’s the matter?
Ye shit yerself?’
– Devilfish


Named after the delicacy, which can prove fatal if not prepared properly, and initially given to Ulliott by Stephen Au-Yeung – a professional gambler who ran a private poker game in Birmingham – the name was cemented at a game in the Four Queens casino in Vegas. Ulliott was in a heads-up encounter with Men ‘The Master’ Nguyen, when one of Nguyen’s followers shouted ‘Go on The Master!’ Ulliott’s driver bellowed ‘Go on the f ing Devilfish!’ back and after Ulliott triumphed, the headlines the next day read ‘Devilfish devours The Master.’ Just in case people forgot, Ulliott fashioned a couple of huge gold rings – one for each hand – with the words DEVIL and FISH inscribed on them.

A devilfish is actually a giant manta, a fish that, unlike Ulliott, poses minimal risk to other humans. Devilfish got his first nickname – ‘The Clock’ – after he bought into a game with a grandfather clock. Rubbish. He also once said he’d ‘swim across shark-infested waters with a bloody pork chop around my neck to play poker’.

The fish Devilfish has been named after is actually the Japanese Fugu (blowfish). Its organs contain a deadly poison, which leads to instant death if not prepared properly and only specially licensed chefs are allowed to serve it. Homer Simpson once had some trouble digesting it.


The original Unabomber was a social misfit, by the name of Theodore John Kaczynski, who ran a one-man bombing campaign from 1978-96 and wore a hoodie and shades to disguise himself. Take away the bombs and you’ve got Laak – a one-man assault on your senses at the poker table, and possibly the biggest character on the scene today. See p24 for more on the man under the hood.


Known for getting a bit busy on the football terraces, a young Marty Wilson was in the zoo with his parents when he encountered a group of rival West Brom fans. Rather than take a pasting he leapt into the polar bear enclosure, ran right the way through and out the other side. A local newspaper picked up the story and ran with the headline ‘Mad Marty’ – the name stuck.


Arriving in California from Tehran, a young Amir Esfandiari was having a hard time at school and decided to Americanise his name to Anthony. Then, introduced to the art of magic, he changed his name again, to the more mysticsounding Antonio. He performed magic at parties before finding poker – and a highly lucrative career of making his opponents’ chips disappear – at the age of 19.


With six WSOP bracelets and dozens of tournament wins, Men’s poker career is prolific but his nickname comes from his tutelage of players like David Pham and Minh Nguyen. In 1991 one of his pupils said he was being taught by ‘The Master’ and the honorific quickly spread. Allegations of his students ‘chip dumping’ onto Men have tarnished his reputation, but nothing has been proven.


A hardened player from the road gambling days, Brunson’s been around the block and back, and survived numerous attempts on his life. So how did he end up with a girly nickname? Funnily enough it was all a big mistake. Jimmy ‘The Greek’ Snyder used to call him Texas Doyle, but reporters misheard and, despite Brunson trying to put them straight, they printed it as ‘Texas Dolly’.


One of the world’s most aggressive poker players, with table manners to match, Matusow is known for his verbal jousting as much as his sublime card skills. At last year’s WSOP an altercation with the dealer led to four F-Bombs and a nifty 40-minute suspension, and he still won through to the final table. If you’re at his table and want to put him on tilt, call him ‘Motor Mouth’ – he hates it.


The Hendon Mobster had his sophisticated moniker coined for him by poker journalist Victoria Coren in The Evening Standard back in 2000. Beevers, a smoothly spoken son of a professional Blackjack player, was an instantly recognisable player on Channel 4’s Late Night Poker. With slicked back hair, black shirt, tie and jacket, Beevers wears The Elegance name with grace.


Thankfully (for entertainment’s sake), the Poker Brat has about as much self-control as a toddler on a sugar rush. In the 2005 WSOP when he was busted out holding A-K to his opponent’s K-J (a Jack spiked on the river) he stormed out bemoaning ‘the worst players in the world’ and losing to a ‘guy who can’t even spell P-O-K-E-R.’ Apparently he’s now spending a lot of time doing meditation.


Yes he’s a great poker player and yes he’s from Denmark, but we think there’s a much better explanation for the nickname. Look at his picture. A long, narrow head, deep-set eyes and short hair, with a broad chest and muscular limbs. Sound familiar? Okay, log onto and type in ‘Great Dane’. We particularly like the fourth picture along. If the cap fits…

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