Stu Unger: Gin Rummy’s most famous player

January 23, 2010 by Dan Brown in Rummy Players
Stuart Errol Stu Ungar

Stuart Errol “Stu” Ungar

Stuart Errol “Stu” Ungar is still Gin Rummy’s most famous player of all time. His extreme competitiveness, fearlessness and photographic memory all helped him become the most-feared Gin player in Las Vegas. They also aided his transition to poker, namely No-limit Hold’em.

Ungar won his first Gin Rummy tournament at the tender age of ten and eventually dropped out of school to play professionally as a way to help support his mother financially after his father passed away. Eventually Ungar made his way to the gambling capital of the world, Las Vegas, to seek fame and fortune and to play the best Gin players in the world.

There was nobody Ungar would not play and apparently could not beat, a fact proven when he annihilated high-stakes Gin pro Harry “Yonkie” Stein 86 games to none in one marathon session. Stein actually quit playing the game professionally not long after his embarrassing defeat to the man known as “The Kid”

His reputation became such that he almost found it impossible to find any action, instead he had to resort to giving rebates to losing players, allowing opponents to check the last card in the deck and even playing all hands in the dealer position. All these moves put him at a significant disadvantage, he still regularly cleaned up.

As he was unable to find anyone to play him at Gin Rummy on a regular basis, Ungar learned how to play poker, No-limit Hold’em in particular. His hyper-aggressive style and complete disregard for money saw him become an instant success and he eventually went on to win five World Series of Poker bracelets, including two for winning the Main Event.

Unfortunately for Ungar, he had many demons including addictions to other forms of gambling and drugs, the latter being responsible for his death in 1998. It is estimated he won over $30,000,000 during his career but he died with only $882 of a $10,000 loan on his person. A tragedy for such a genius.

One famous Ungar quote, which summed up his confidence perfectly, is: “Some day, I suppose it’s possible for someone to be a better No-limit Hold’em player than me. I doubt it, but it could happen. But, I swear to you, I don’t see how anyone could ever play Gin better than me.” I think he was correct.



  • ungar the genius that was how many braclets would he have today if alive

    Comment by shelly — July 20, 2011 @ 3:17 pm

  • ungar,i know your lost brother!call me. he sit next by me.

    Comment by Jenieerré — December 5, 2011 @ 10:41 pm

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