Stu Ungar

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 21:50

Stu Ungar

A poker biography of Stu Ungar.

Quick Information

Name - Stu Ungar ( Deceased)

Born - 1956, New York, United States

Poker Room - Not Available


The late, great Stu Ungar was, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most talented players of the game of poker. He is one of only two men, the other being Johnny Moss, to have won three WSOP events, as well as the only one to have won all three by actual tournament victories. However, looking beyond the mystique and the wonder of this man's tale, one can find a tortured champion, someone who had seen more than royal flushes and pocket threes during his tenure.

One could say that the "myth" of Stu began innocently enough win a hand of gin rummy. Indeed, no one doubts that Stu is the "Michael Jordan" of gin rummy, though he himself admitted that his ability in poker, the game which made him famous and infamous, could be surpassed by other players. Before he was eighteen, he'd already become a regular winner amidst New York's finest gin players, proving himself to be every bit as talented as his older, more experienced opponents. Unfortunately, Stu had what can be described as an addiction to action and he quickly lost whatever money he won on less skill-based games of chance, such as horse racing and craps. Sometime before his move to Las Vegas but after he had taken his gin game to Miami, he picked up poker and showed more than just a touch of promise. However, bad habits died hard in Stu's case and, some say, those habits were what would eventually be his downfall.

In Vegas, he'd shown off his incredible talents and accurately predicted the final hand of an opponent. The feat had the result of other players avoiding playing him like a plague and things came to the point that he had to compete in tournaments to find games. Blackjack, interestingly enough, did not fare much better, as his accurate prediction of the last few remaining cards in a single-deck game ended with casinos not only removing such games but also Stu being unanimously blacklisted for life from the tables.

His first championship in poker came in 1980, though many considered his victory to be little more than a fluke. Still, no one can doubt that his aggressive, in-your-face style of play had the effect of intimidating the competition. To prove he was more than a mere "one hit wonder," he went on to win his second WSOP bracelet and begin his legacy as one of the game's deadliest players. 1997 was the year that saw him add his third bracelet to his collection, seal his legacy for future generations of players, and also, in a way, show that his personal life was in a downward spiral.

For all his ability, his downfall was his addiction to gambling. He lost millions on games like craps and roulette, only to win the money back in a poker game or in gin, but eventually ended up betting and losing on sports bets. While his end was far from glorious, few can doubt that Stu will live on as one of the benchmarks for the greatest poker player of our time, if he already hasn't been found worthy of such a title.