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Cigars, Beer & Poker Ground >> One of a Kind: The Rise and Fall of Stu Ungar


3/8/12 8:49 AM
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I read the book a few years back when I was getting into poker, great read. ESPN did an hour-long documentary which I was unaware of, but for those with Comcast, it's on demand right now.

Very well done. The commentary from Stu's family and friends is excellent. Worth a watch for Stu fans, and if you're reading this and don't know about Stu, you need to see this. Widely regarded as the best poker player (and gin rummy player) that ever lived. Won the main event 3 times, and if not for years of drug abuse and his death, I and many others will tell you he may have won another 3...or 10.

On Demand - Sports and Fitness - ESPN - Poker - Stu Ungar Story.

I'm sure you can find it online somewhere, but definitely look into it.
3/8/12 4:17 PM
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VectorWega
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 I'll have to check it out.  There is also a movie about his life starring Michael Imperioli (Sopranos).  It is mediocre, but worth a look if you are a fan.

I wouldn't say he is the best poker player of all time, but he is probably the most talented of all time.  Unfortunately, there is a lot of luck in poker tournaments and given the sizes of the main event fields now it would be tough for Stu Ungar, or any other top player to win 1, much less multiple main events.
3/8/12 6:23 PM
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Of course it's hard to say how many more he could have won, but if you imagine him playing at his best for the 80s and 90s (He wasn't even sober in 97) who knows what he could have accomplished. Hell he'd only be turning 60 next year. Imagine him and Ivey at a mixed cash game together anytime in the past 10 years? Sigh.

I heard about the movie but I've never been able to find it. Mediocre is the best review I've read so far, but I'm a huge fan so I'd love to see it anyway.
3/8/12 6:29 PM
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"During the 1992 World Series of Poker, Ungar faced off against Mansour Matloubi in a series of $50,000 buy-in no limit hold'em heads-up freezeout events. On the final hand of the game, Matloubi tried to bluff Ungar all-in for $32,000 on the river with a board of 3-3-7-K-Q. Ungar, who held 10-9, thought for a few seconds and said to Matloubi, "You have 4-5 or 5-6 so I'm gonna call you with this" and flipped over his 10-high to win the pot and bust Matloubi, who in fact held exactly what Ungar said he did"

Still my favorite poker story, ever.
3/9/12 11:54 AM
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I'd say Hellmuth is the best no-limit tournament player ever, but not the best all around or even NL cash game player ever. Phone Post
3/9/12 1:52 PM
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VectorWega
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 Phil Ivey is the best at both tournaments and cash games.  I don't know the stats for just NLHE, but for overall tournament play, Phil Hellmuth is only 11th on the money list.  If you remove recent main event champs (who essentially just had 1 big score) he is 7th and the rankings go like this:

1)  Erik Seidel $16,978,468
2)  Daniel Negreanu
$15,012,262
3)  Phil Ivey
$13,979,026
4)  John Juanda
$11,993,013
5)  Michael Mizrachi
$11,875,394
6)  Scotty Nguyen $10,935,692
7)  Phil Hellmuth Jr $10,912,654

Also, Phil Hellmuth has been in the game longer than 4 of those players (Negreanu, Ivey, Juanda, and Mizrachi).

3/9/12 6:26 PM
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Career winnings is one way to look at it...I appreciate Hellmuth's game for the reason mentioned above me, 11 bracelets. But it would be interesting to see how many tournaments Phil has played to reach that number as opposed to Ivey. Could argue for either.

Glad to see Negreanu mentioned. Do you know who was the first player to really use the aggressive small-ball style so successfully? Stu.
3/9/12 6:31 PM
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"Ungar also won the main event at the now-defunct Amarillo Slim's Super Bowl of Poker in 1984, 1988 and 1989, when it was considered the world's second most prestigious poker title.[3][18] As Slim put it, "Stu musta won a million dollars in my tournaments."

He won a total of 10 major no-limit Texas hold 'em events (events in which the buy-ins were $5,000 or higher) despite only entering in 30 major tournaments in his life.[3]"

Won 1/3 of the major events he ever entered? So sick.
3/10/12 1:17 PM
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VectorWega
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ShutYourMouth - I don't care about money. He has 11 bracelets all in no limit holdem. He will finish with 20 easily.
Doubt he will finish with 20.  Since the fields have gotten larger (starting in 2004), Phil Hellmuth only has 2 bracelets (1 in 2006, and 1 in 2007).  BTW, the primary objective of any poker player is to make money, meaning that you should care about the money.  Also, the WSOP isn't the only major poker tournament.  Phil Hellmuth has 0 WPT titles.

BTW, he actually has 7 No-limit Hold 'em Bracelets, 3 limit hold 'em bracelets, and 1 pot-limit hold 'em bracelet.
3/10/12 2:03 PM
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VectorWega
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 He had a very impressive showing this past year.  I was hoping he would take down WSOP player of the year.
3/20/13 8:41 PM
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homegrowncone
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Hadn't seen this in years, just came across it.

3/27/13 7:58 PM
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andre
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I think it's hard to assess Phil's skill in tournament poker vs the skill of someone like Vanessa Selbst (who I think is in the top 3 today). Phil focuses on WSOP tournaments where fields are softest and he can benefit from players wanting to bust him because of who he is. But I also think he looks at the game in a way that is counter to the current cEV thinking in the game and it may be correct.

What I mean is that he doesn't take slightly positive +cEV flips or plays, and the reason I think there is merit to it is that I think the way EV is calculated in live tournaments is "wrong."

If anyone is interested in a discussion on this, let's start a new thread on the OG--or here--because I think it is an interesting one.

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