Warren Lush files the first of two reports from sunny Cardiff

I am just back from a week in Cardiff, Wales, where next year’s Late Night Poker was being filmed. Suffice to say the tournament is expected to be broadcast in January, so I will not be revealing any results. But having a lot of the world’s top poker pros in one place for seven days is bound not to pass without incident. Let’s just say it involved a fair bit of Dave “Devilfish” Ulliot – and singing…

PartyPoker has sponsored Late Night Poker for a number of years now, but this year it returned to the format of the original show in 1999 with 49 players, seven heats of seven players and an eight-seat final. What is interesting to lots, however, is what went on off the felt.


Swish: The Late Night Poker set in Cardiff

Everybody involved in the tournament stays at the Cardiff Hilton, so after games there is a communal atmosphere in the bar. On the first night I spent the majority of time with Irish poker legend Padraig Parkinson, who many don’t know was just one bluff away from becoming the first European winner of the World Series of Poker Main Event in the late 1990s. Padraig is always a good craic and this night was no exception. In the same bar was Wolverhampton Wanderers and former Republic of Ireland football manager Mick McCarthy, famous for his massive blow up with the legendary Roy Keane at the start of the 2002 World Cup.

As Padraig expressed over a pint of Stella, he was more of a Roy Keane man himself. But, despite attempts to get Padraig to say that to Mr McCarthy, the night was pretty uneventful. I copped abuse for drinking fruit juice but finally wilted and had a drink in the residents’ bar next door.

We were joined there by the Hendon Mob’s Barny Boatman, Joe Beevers and Ram Vaswani. Also there was Denmark’s PLO runner-up in this year’s World Series, Rene Mouritsen. Rene won over $500,000 for finishing 2nd on a final table that featured Doyle Brunson, Michael Mizrachi and Patrik Antonius. A good tip, then for the prestigious Late Night Poker title. With Rene was the delightful Maud Mulder, a lady who deserves a picture and needs some explanation.


In fine voice: Maud Mulder, right, with Paul Jackson

Earlier this year Maud beat off all the pros to win the first PartyPoker Dutch Open. But she was supposed to be an also ran, a celebrity who was merely bait for the sharks around her. Maud rose to fame by finishing second in the original Pop Idol series in Holland, is a pro hockey player, as well as being a legitimate pop star in her own right. She was put into the Dutch Open tournament as 100/1 outsider, but tore them apart and as a result got herself an invite to Late Night Poker.

Anyway, Maud is unaware of who is who in the poker world and this showed when Padraig informed her that he was a mere online qualifier, and WSOP bracelet winner Ram Vaswani, from England, said he played “a bit”. I felt a bit guilty and put her straight the next day, but sometimes it is fun to prod fun at these poker players, some of whom expect everybody to recognise them. I remember a conversation one night last week where two top pros were seriously questioning whether they were more likely to be recognised on a UK street than actor and comedian John Thomson, who played in the celebrity heat. John was a central cast member of one of the UK’s top television’s dramas (Cold Feet) for several years so I suggested to the poker pros that Thompson would be better known. But then the argument got on to international recognition. These poker players, eh?

One person who does tend to get recognised more than most is Dave “The Devilfish” Ulliott – and, boy, do you know about it when people recognise him. I have been out with him before in Las Vegas and he is treated like a god, but in similar bars in London there is a little bit more of a recognition problem. If one European player is going to get recognised, however, it will be the Fish as we saw when he was greeted by the McCarthy’s Wolves team – who were there for a match against Cardiff City (which they won 3-2). Despite what some people say about the Fish, he is a good bloke and is great value on a night out as I was to find a couple of days into the tournament.


Strong bar performer: Dave “Devilfish” Ulliot, right

The Hilton is in the centre of Cardiff and we ended up at a very empty bar that was having a karaoke night next door. Within 60 seconds someone had put the Fish’s name down and we had Shall I Play Or Shall I Fold instead of The Clash’s classic Should I Stay Or Should I Go. He was dancing, thrusting and hogging the microphone as much as possible. He even did a duet with former Late Night Poker winner Simon Trumper – and Elvis was very much on the menu.

We even saw a different side to the Fish as he serenaded to Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight. This made me smile all night! I would never get on that stage, but who was to join us later that night? None other than our own Pop Idol star Maud Mulder! After buying her a few drinks she delivered a flawless version of Proud Mary by Credence Clearwater Revival as I teased the Fish about getting upstaged. The PartyPoker online qualifiers who were there on the night found it hilarious: but it is well known that the Fish is as an aggressive party general as he is a poker player. Fish is a bit like a pop star but that night he had to deal with a real one!


It’s in the cards: Flopshot from Late Night Poker

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5 Comments

  1. I’ve heard Devilfish sing – and he’s not that bad. Reckon Maud looked better on stage though!

  2. Nice to read interesting things about Devilfish,which is my favourite professional poker player.