Stu Ungar, nicknamed ‘The Comeback Kid’, was considered by many to be the greatest Texas hold’em poker player of all time. He was the only person to have won 3 times at Amarillo Slim’s Super Bowl of Poker, earing him the second best poker title of that time, along with other achievements. He also played blackjack and gin rummy professionally.
When Stu was young, his father worked as a loan shark at a bar where people also gambled, exposing Stu to gambling early on. He started with gin rummy and won a gin tournament when he was 10 years old. He later became friends with, and was mentored by an organized crime figure, who also helped to protect him from other gamblers.
Because of his great gin playing, Stu earned a reputation for beating anyone who attempted to beat him. No one wanted to play him at gin, and the same held true when he started playing poker. He immediately started winning against professional poker players after moving to Las Vegas. Blackjack became another game he was an expert at with his card counting abilities, but was banned from playing it in casinos and other places.
Stu became addicted to cocaine after using it initially to stay sharp and alert at poker tables, from the advice of other players. Over the course of almost 20 years, the damage to his body was clearly noticeable and he could barely make it through the games, but he still won. Toward the end of his life, Stu was heavily into sports betting, while being more reclusive inside hotel rooms and smoking crack. In 1998, he was found dead in his room and despite having earned 30 million in his career, he had no assets left. A movie was made based on his life in 2003 and he was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2001.