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Ungar became a professional gambler at age 14, a year after his father, a bookmaker and bar operator, died. At 15 he dropped out of school when a well known bookie staked him the $500 buy-in in a big gin rummy tournament. Stu won the $10,000 first prize without ever losing a hand. In 1976 Stu reached Las Vegas, broke. Two years later he won his first world poker title. He repeated that feat the next year. Ungar is a three-time World Champion.
One night at Caesars Palace he won $83,000 at Blackjack but the manager stopped the play. Stu retaliated by correctly forecasting the last 18 cards left in the single-deck shoe. That was the beginning of the end for single deck blackjack tables. He was barred from playing blackjack nearly everywhere.
Unger never had respect for money. Money was simply a tool to gamble with (the more he had, the more he bet). He lost $900,000 in RAZZ game in an afternoon, $1m in a craps session and picked up $5m from Larry Flint (the porn king) over many heads-up sessions. He went from being broke to a millionaire (and broke again) at least four times. Ungar never had a job in his life.
He was notorious for dealer abuse. Ungar said:
"Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser."
For twenty years, he abused himself with drugs. Sadly Ungar died in 1998 at the age of 42.