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Poker Profile, Stu Ungar

Stu Ungar: The Poker Prodigy

In the high-stakes world of professional poker, few names shine as brightly as Stu Ungar’s. Born on September 8, 1953, in New York City, Stuart Errol Ungar, commonly known as Stu Ungar, would go on to become a legendary figure in the world of poker. His incredible talent, meteoric rise to fame, and tragic downfall have left an indelible mark on the poker world. In this detailed profile, we will delve into Stu Ungar’s life, his remarkable wins, and his enduring legacy.

Early Life and Introduction to Poker

Stu Ungar’s journey into the world of poker began at an early age. His father, Isidore Ungar, was a bookmaker and a skilled card player himself. Young Stu showed a natural aptitude for numbers and strategy, traits that would serve him well in the world of poker.

Rise to Stardom

World Series of Poker (WSOP) Dominance

Stu Ungar’s poker career truly took off when he entered the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in the early 1980s. In 1980, at the age of 26, he won his first WSOP Main Event, claiming the coveted gold bracelet and a substantial cash prize. What made this victory even more astonishing was the fact that Ungar had only been playing poker professionally for a few years.

He followed up this incredible feat with back-to-back WSOP Main Event victories in 1981 and 1982, solidifying his reputation as one of the greatest poker players of all time. His unmatched skills in Texas Hold’em and Seven-Card Stud left his opponents in awe.

Total WSOP Bracelets

Over the course of his career, Stu Ungar secured a total of five WSOP bracelets, all in different poker variants. In addition to his Main Event titles in 1980, 1981, and 1982, he also claimed bracelets in the $10,000 No-Limit Deuce to Seven Draw event in 1983 and the $5,000 Seven-Card Stud event in 1997.

A Legendary Comeback

Despite his early successes, Stu Ungar’s life was marred by personal troubles, including drug addiction and financial difficulties. He temporarily disappeared from the poker scene, but his talent remained undeniable. In a stunning comeback in 1997, Ungar returned to the WSOP Main Event and won his third title. This remarkable victory solidified his status as one of the most enigmatic figures in the poker world.

Ungar’s Unique Playing Style

Stu Ungar’s poker prowess was marked by his unique playing style. He was known for his aggressive and fearless approach, which often caught his opponents off guard. His ability to read his opponents and make lightning-fast decisions was unparalleled. He was also a master of psychological warfare at the poker table, using his wit and charisma to manipulate his adversaries.

Tragic End

Despite his incredible talent, Stu Ungar’s life was plagued by personal demons. His struggles with drug addiction took a toll on his health and finances. Tragically, on November 22, 1998, Stu Ungar was found dead in a Las Vegas motel room at the age of 45. His death was attributed to a heart condition exacerbated by his drug abuse.

Legacy and Impact

Stu Ungar’s legacy in the world of poker is immeasurable. His remarkable achievements, including his five WSOP bracelets and three Main Event victories, continue to inspire aspiring poker players worldwide. He remains a symbol of both the boundless potential and the perils of professional poker.

In recognition of his unparalleled contributions to the game, Stu Ungar was posthumously inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2001.


Stu Ungar’s life and career serve as a testament to the power of raw talent and the destructive force of personal demons. His story is a captivating tale of triumph and tragedy, and his name will forever be etched in the annals of poker history as one of the game’s true legends. Stu Ungar’s incredible journey reminds us that in the world of high-stakes poker, skill and strategy can lead to greatness, but it is also essential to navigate the perils that come with success.

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