Decades before rummy was such a huge sensation online, Stu Ungar was already out there, making history. Not many know of him, but those who do wouldn’t stop talking about what an absolute genius Stu was. His life was dramatic, short, intense and highly mesmerizing.
With genius-level mathematical skills and a photographic memory, he dominated the card game circuit for years. Stuart Ungar, or Stu Ungar, was a rummy prodigy, well-versed in poker and rummy. But he wasn’t your ordinary champion.
At the age of 10, Stu won his first gin rummy tournament, and there was no looking back. He dropped out of school to pursue the game full-time. In his life, Stu cashed in thirty-five live tournaments and won sixteen of them, which includes three WSOP main event titles.
In the 1980s, the Super Bowl of Poker was the only necessary Hold’em tournament, and Stu won that three times. Here’s a brief about Stu’s life as a rummy player and how he came to be called the greatest player of all time.
You can download a rummy application if you feel inspired and participate in tournaments after learning the rules of rummy to earn cash rewards.
Stu’s Early Life
Stu Ungar was born in 1953, and he was an extremely precocious child. Skipping 7th grade in his school, he earned 10s of thousands o
f dollars playing gin tournaments during his teens. Before Stu finished his 10th grade, his father passed away in Manhattan. His father was a loan shark and bookmaker who set the odds and back bets people wished to make on sports.
Seeing gambling has an effect on his customers, he attempted to hide this lifestyle from his son. But it wasn’t possible. Thanks to Stu’s photographic memory, he was winning gin rummy tournaments by age ten.
When his father passed away, the burden of providing for the family fell on Stu’s shoulders. That’s when he decided to drop out of school and pursue playing card games full-time.
By 17, Stu had already earned the legendary card game player status. He was a regular in the underground world of New York gaming. Eventually, he fell in with the Victor Romano crew. Victor is one of the most renowned card players and a Genovese crime family soldier.
On the one hand, Stu was a renowned winner. On the other hand, he was a sore loser. But under the protection of Romano, he was able to play anybody. As time passed, he got better, and by the mid-1970s, he was regarded as New York’s best player.
Stu’s Shift from New York to Las Vegas
Stu Ungar was the best card player in New York, but this talented player had a significant vice – the ponies. As a result, he would regularly blow his monstrous winnings from tournaments and matches at the racetrack.This led to him being in monstrous debt by the late ’70s, and it started to catch up to him.
In time, he had destroyed all the competition he could find in New York. He desperately needed to find new action, and that’s when you found refuge in Miami, Florida. He set his eyes on conquering the one realm that was filled with the most top-notch and elite players in the world, which was Las Vegas.
As soon as he came to Las Vegas, the prominent game to play was gin rummy, and as expected, he destroyed the competition in an instant. It is said that gin rummy is not played any longer in Vegas casinos and almost all casinos across the world. This is because of Stu Ungar.
Stu became such a big name in the Vegas card gaming arena that his name alone was motivation enough for players to run the other way quickly.
Eventually, this resulted in him being banned from professional matches. In Las Vegas, the final blow to gin rummy came in the form of Ungar’s face-off against Harry ‘Yonkie’ Stein, the best gin player in the world at that time.
Unfortunately, Harry was utterly destroyed by Stu and reduced to nothing in a high-stakes game of Hollywood gin. This resulted in Harry not playing professionally anymore, and people even say that Harry was never the same person anymore.
Therefore, Ungar was left with no competition. Nobody wanted to play against him. Hence, the competition dried up pretty quickly, and he needed to move on to a new game. This was when he decided to move on to playing poker instead of rummy.
Shift to the Poker world
As he struggled to get a gin table, he shifted his focus to poker and, by the early 1980s, established himself as one of the finest and most highly skilled poker players. He entered the main event at the World Series of Poker in 1980.
He defeated Doyle Brunson in his first-ever poker tournament and made everyone take notice. He was dubbed the ‘Kid’ because he became the youngest WSOP champion in history.
Then, this was Stu Ungar – a brilliant card player, much feared by other players. He is best known to the world for his poker achievements, but he regarded himself as a better gin rummy player. There’s never been another rummy player as remarkable as Stu Ungar.
So, if you’re feeling inspired, don’t stop experimenting with different tactics and start working on your memory skills. Install a rummy app and play practice matches.