Poker Hall of Fame: The Role of Sentimentality

TAGs: Poker Hall of Fame, Sentimentality

After reading the blog posts of Joe Beevers and Daniel Negreanu, Lee Davy shares his opinion on the role of sentimentality within the Poker Hall of Fame nomination process.

Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott divided opinion when he was alive, and he’s still at it now he’s playing poker with the likes of Stu Ungar, Elvis and Bruce Lee.

Poker Hall of Fame: The Role of SentimentalityUlliott was an acquired taste. He was more likely to talk about breast milk, bodily fluids and female body parts than Ikea wardrobes, politics and the price of a gallon of diesel. At times he came across a little Dan Bilzerian (minus the women and goat), and some of his jokes brought groans from the rail.

Since his passing he has become the most talked about member of the short list for the 2015 Poker Hall of Fame. It’s a classic should he or shouldn’t he argument, and this week it was interesting to read the opinions of two of poker’s most prominent figures, from very different eras: Daniel Negreanu and Joe Beevers.

Beevers is a pioneer who spent his time amongst pioneers. As an influential member of the Hendon Mob he carved out an almost curatorial place in poker’s history. The Hendon Mob, and the minds behind it, slapped on their red lip gloss and went looking for sponsors, when the possibility of poker sponsorship was as likely as Daniel Negreanu chowing down on a nice piece of steak. And that’s not to mention the role the gang had in growing poker’s popularity on our TV screens.

The man known as The Elegance has recently opened the doors to his new personal blog, and inside you can find an article carrying the name Devilfish and the Poker Hall of Fame

“Dave ‘Devilfish” Ulliott is by far THE best known poker player that the UK has ever produced.” Writes Beevers before continuing. “Whilst most are outstanding in one way or another some are more memorable than others Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott is the most memorable of them all!”

He certainly was memorable. His $6.2m in change, World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet and World Poker Tour (WPT) title also shines a light on what must have been a pretty decent poker game.

Beevers believes that this has to be the year Devilfish is inducted, otherwise it is very likely that his time will pass. I happen to agree with him.

A few weeks ago Daniel Negreanu voiced his opinion on how the panel should conjugate their ideas before voting for the right man, or woman, to be inducted. As always, it was a very well thought out, and no punches pulled piece.

Beevers refers to Negreanu’s post several times during his blog post. Most notably where Negreanu says that: “His passing should have absolutely nothing to do with whether or not he earns your vote,” before continuing, “If the voters deem him to best fit the criteria, he should get in, but not based on sentiment.”

I feel very confident in saying that Devilfish’s nomination comes about because of his death. To my knowledge, he was never before nominated, and I don’t remember too much conversation around a potential nomination. So sentimentality has everything to do with the fact that he is even being considered.

So is that a problem?

Should we, like Daniel Negreanu says, remove sentimentality from our decision making process?

I’m a member of the voting panel and sentimentality will always steer my vote. Last year, I voted for two people: Jack McClelland and Daniel Negreanu. The latter was a no brainer. He deserves all the plaudits that come his way and more. I voted for Negreanu because of his brilliance on the table, his transparency of it, and the role that he has played in widening the scope of our game around the world.

I voted for Jack through sentimentality.

I had never met Jack, and as I am not a historian of poker, I didn’t have a good handle on the impact that he had on the game. I voted for him because it was obvious through his nomination that he was worthy of one day being inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame, and because he was seriously ill.

I wanted Jack and his family to be able to celebrate his accomplishments whilst he was alive. I wanted them to shed tears, hugs and to have their photographs taken so his family could look back fondly on what could possibly be one of the happiest nights of his life. The posthumous alternative creates visions of tumbleweed blowing through an empty casino hallway.

Thor Hansen is another case in point. We should celebrate the achievements of these great men, and women, when they are alive. Forget the rules. Let’s remember the humanness in us all. We are more than a game. We are a community. We spend more time with each other than our own families.

I’ve played poker against John Juanda. He crippled me in my first World Series of Poker (WSOP) event. But I am not a poker player. I can’t vote based on my knowledge of his poker playing ability. We all know that results lie in this business. Only those who play, and have played with these people, can truly separate the wheat from the chaff.

I’ve never played against Devilfish. But I do know that his performances on Late Night Poker were the reason that I got into poker. I believe this will be the case for so many young men and women of the UK. There will be a huge case for him to be included from the UK contingent for this very reason. I’m not sure any other countryman or woman can understand it like we do.

John Juanda will one day find his way into the Poker Hall of Fame. The same is true for the likes of Jennifer Harman, Chris Bjorin, Carlos Mortensen, et al.


I’m not so sure.

The time feels right.

The time is now, and if that’s sentimentality speaking, then I’ll own that.


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