Stuart Errol Ungar was an American professional Poker, Blackjack and Gin Rummy player. He was widely regarded as the greatest Texas Hold ’em and Gin Rummy player of all time. He is also one of two individuals to have won the World Series of Poker Main Event three times.
Born in Manhattan, New York, in September 1953 and passed away in November of 1998 at the age of 45. Ungar was the son of a bookmaker and loan shark who ran illegal gambling parlours in Manhattan, the Foxes Corner. His father tried everything to keep Stu out of the gambling world, but its allure caught Stu at a young age, and he quickly became a great Gin Rummy Player. Stu, the Kid Ungar, eventually dropped out of school in tenth grade and took up gambling full time. It was the start of a turbulent gambling career.
Stu Ungar’s Gambling Career
He gambled his way to maturity and fell into the crew of Victor Romano, a notorious criminal and a fabled card player. With Romano’s protection, Stu could play just about anyone. He was incredibly talented and won consistently; however, despite winning big, his gambling problem led him to lose all his winnings at the race tracks.
Due to accumulated debts, Stu left for Las Vegas and started gambling against many of the worlds most elite and demolished Harry Stein, a player considered to be the world’s best gin player. After that, he barely got much rummy action as players refused to play against him. In 1980 he transitioned to Poker and became the youngest player to win the WSOP main event title. He continued to win bracelets and was the only Poker player to win the famous Amarillo Slims Super Bowl of Poker on three different occasions.
The End of the Road
Despite Ungar’s massively successful career, his drug addiction kept him from reaching his full potential as he kept relapsing. His death was heart failure due to years of drug abuse, and his funeral got paid by the Poker Community as he left this world the same way he came into it, with nothing.