Stu "The Kid" Ungar

It is hard to settle who the best poker player of all times is. Not only is it a matter of how you measure and how you value different kinds of techniques, but there are also poker players that are brilliant, yet uninterested of entering contests.

Regardless, I think that a lot of people would agree that Stu Ungar was one of the absolute best poker players in the world. He has won World Series of Poker five times, Super Bowl of Poker three times and has been claimed world champion three times as well. Take into account that he only entered about 30 contests in his lifetime (1953-1998), and that will seem even more extraordinary.

Ungar had perfect conditions to become a good gambler. Not only did he have photographic memory and high IQ, but he also had a very sharp sense for math and reading people. Throughout his whole life he never had one ordinary job, but spent his money playing on horses, gin rummy and of course - poker. He also gave Blackjack a go, but he did so well playing it that all the casinos forbade him to ever play there again. He was called “The kid”, but make no mistake; you wouldn’t want to meet him at a poker table no matter how old you were.

When “The kid” entered World Series of Poker for the first time, he was only 24 years old. Even though he had just recently begun playing Texas Hold’em, he won the contest and all the spotlight that came with it. Some of the critics however, said that it was a matter of luck. To prove them wrong he entered the following year and won once again. Even though he kept gambling he kept it a bit on the low for the years to come. He went from being broke to being a millionaire 4 times. In time his drug use became heavy and to make matters worse his wife left him.

Cut to 1997: It is one hour before the World Series of Poker is about to begin, and Stu Ungar hasn’t even got enough money to join. In the last minute, Billy Baxter pays the fee for him and in not too long Stu wins the world championship for the third time. This is still considered the biggest comeback in poker history. The year after he dies as a result of his drug addiction.

The legend of Stu Ungar has resulted in several books and the movie High Roller.


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