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Ungar is known as one of the original bad boys of poker. Because of his early death, I never had the opportunity to play
alongside him, but his stories are infamous. He was considered a genius at calculating odds, and putting players on hands.
But, no matter how talented he was, addiction took hold of his life and he was not able to break free of it.
Stuey was born on the Lower East Side of New York City. He grew up in a Jewish household with his father Isador, mother, and
older sister Judy. His first introduction to cards was at the age of ten, while vacationing with his family in the
Catskills. Here, he would play the hotel's wait staff at the game of gin, beating them out of their nightly tips. At the age
of 13, Ungar lost his father Isador to a fatal heart attack, while in the arms of his mistress. Twelve months later his
mother suffered a stroke which left her unable to care for herself, or children. Subsequently, Stu dropped out of the tenth
grade to support his mother and sister, becoming a dealer for a local card club. His natural ability was apparent, and it
was a short time later that he beat the most legendary of gin professionals. Even though he was making thousands of dollars
playing cards, he was losing just as much at the racetrack. Before long, he owed a substantial debt to the wrong people and
was forced to leave town, heading west to Las Vegas.
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Stu Ungar married Madelaine Wheeler, a cocktail waitress and long time girlfriend from New York. Together they would have
one child, a daughter named Stephanie. Due to constant drug use and gambling, Madelaine separated from Stu in the mid-1980's
taking their daughter with her. At the 2005 World Series of Poker, Stephanie joined by her mother announced "shuffle up and
deal" at the championship event.
With growth of poker, a number of books and articles have
emerged regarding the life of Stu Ungar. The book "Aces and Kings", and"One of a Kind", depict the wild days
of Stu from first hand accounts of some of today's most famous players. One of the funnier stories told is the time he bought
a top of the line Mercedes Benz, never changed the oil, and was surprised to find that the engine seized up on him.
Stu's accomplishments are amazing. He has five World Series of Poker bracelets. He was the youngest player to ever win the
Main Event, until 1989 when Phil Hellmuth broke his record. With
sixteen money finishes at the WSOP, he has earnings of over two million dollars. Alongside Johnny Moss, Stu has been the
only person to win three championship titles. He holds back to back championship victories in 1980 and 1981 - An
accomplishment only achieved by two others, Doyle Brunson
and Johnny Chan. His final victory was at the 1997 World
Series, where he beat John Strzemp by making a five high straight, giving the Holdem hand A4 the nickname: "Stu Ungar".