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Message started by Five Fingers on May 3rd, 2006, 8:12pm

Title: The Man Behind the Shades
Post by Five Fingers on May 3rd, 2006, 8:12pm

The Rise and Fall of Stuey 'The Kid' Ungar, Pokers Greatest Player

By Nolan Dalla, Peter Alson

Read this book? What did you think?

Title: Re: The Man Behind the Shades
Post by The Lawman on Jun 5th, 2006, 11:50am

This sychophantic biography suffers from the main problem I have with such books: the author admires his subject too much.

It still delivers a full account of one of pokers most gifted characters and how he used and abused his natural talent till it ultimately destroyed him however.

Unger's life is chronicled from his fledgling upbringing through the Mob run NYC card games to the glitz and glamour of Vegas and along the way many anecdotes and quotes from those who knew and played with him are thrown in for good measure. This makes for an undeniably interesting read but I cant help but feel that the author plays down many of Unger's massive character flaws as 'quirks' and 'eccentricities', not least his descent into drugs and the life of an addict which are only truly brought home in the closing pages of the book even though it was a major aspect of his confused and erratic life.

A light but interesting read, sugar coated to hide the dirty side of the flawed genius.

Title: Re: The Man Behind the Shades
Post by The Professor on Jun 12th, 2006, 11:13pm

I read this book on recommendation from five fingers and obviously from the photos in it the author paid Ungar for the rights to write a sympathetic biography, although he died before the book was published! Undoubtedly Ungar was a selfish and flawed individual with an addictive personality, not uncommon in geniuii in a particular field (ref Gazza) bet also undoubtedly the greatest texas holdem player ever. Moral of the story, avoid class a drugs and keep the betting under control.
ps. had to laugh when someone asked Paul Merson " if you were a betting man, who would your money be on" on sky sports news the other day...
From reading the book it sounds like bookmaking is still illegal in a lot of states in the usa, what would have happened if betfair had been around for Ungar to use.

Title: Stu Ungar, The Man Behind the Shades
Post by Five Fingers on Jun 21st, 2007, 3:35pm

Imagine risking every single dollar in your pocket on the turn of one card. Iíve done that so many times, I donít even blink. Think about winning more than a million dollars on a horse race. I did that a few years ago. Imagine gambling for $100,000 on a round of golf. Iíve done that dozens of times. Imagine betting $20,000 a game, and betting the whole board until all your money runs out. I did that every single day Ė even when I didnít have a place to live.

Now thatís living.

STUEY THE KID UNGAR, Las Vegas legend, icon, addict and three-time World Series of Poker champion


The life of Stu Ungar is essential reading for any serious poker player.

True, his life remains repellant to some, disgusted with his complete disregard for the value of money and his own well being. But deep inside, every poker player would like to be Stuey at the table for just one second.

This book covers the good, the bad and doesnt sugar coat the ugly. †It shows him as a devil, being abusive to dealers and wasting his ill gotten gains. †But more importantly it treats his genius with a rare affection. †

The long list of comments from fellow poker professionals, including some of the greatest legends in the game, demonstrate that Ungar is the most loved and respected player that ever sat down at the poker table. †Yet he was also the most feared by these very same people. †A rare achievement in life.

He remains the only player to win three World Series of Poker main events, a feat that will likely never be repeated. †An achievement further enhanced as Ungar achieved this in spite of all his troubles.

This is not the best poker book ever written. †It won't improve your game much. †And it certainly won't cheer you up on a rainy Sunday. †

But it will remind you why you love and play the game. †

The Rise and Fall of Stu Ungar is the very soul of poker. And that is priceless in the post-Ungar age of sterile online poker and mass market tournaments. †


Stu Ungar - comments on his life at

It was also around this time that Ungar began using cocaine. He noted in his biography that at first he used it on the advice of fellow poker players because of the drug's ability to keep someone up and energized for a long period of time, something that would come in handy during marathon poker sessions. However, recreational use soon led to addiction.

Ungar's drug problem escalated to such a point that during the WSOP main event in 1990, to which close friend and poker pro Billy Baxter had staked him, Ungar was found on the third day of the tournament unconscious on the floor of his hotel room from a drug overdose. However, he had such a chip lead that even when the dealers kept taking his blinds out every time around the table Ungar still finished 9th and pocketed $20,500.


"The Comeback Kid"

In 1997, Ungar was deeply in debt, but he once again received the $10,000 buy-in to the WSOP main event from Baxter. Ungar clearly showed physical damage from his years of addiction, most notably to his nasal membranes. However, he showed that his mental capacities were unimpaired. During the tournament, he kept a picture of his daughter Stefanie in his wallet, and regularly called her with updates on his progress.

After winning the main event again, which was taped for broadcast by ESPN, he showed the picture of his daughter to the camera, and dedicated his win to her. He and Baxter split the $1,000,000 first prize evenly. Ungar was dubbed "The Comeback Kid" by the Las Vegas media because of the span (16 years) between his main event wins as well as his past drug abuse.

Ungar lost all of his 1997 WSOP prize over the course of the next few months, mainly on drugs and sports betting. He attempted to give up drugs several times at the begging of Stefanie but only stayed clean for weeks at a time before using again.


Read excerpt at


Title: Stu Ungar, The Man Behind the Shades
Post by Five Fingers on Jun 21st, 2007, 3:52pm

Quotes from the Inside Cover

A well-written and well-researched study of the most naturally gifted and emotionally stunted card genius in the history of poker.
A. ALVAREZ, author of The Biggest Game in Town

I knew Stuey Ungar well and played with him many, many times. He was one of the most remarkable characters to ever sit down at a poker table. Reading The Man Behind the Shades not only brought him back to life for me, it vividly recreated a time and place that weíll likely never see again. For anyone interested in understanding and unraveling the legend of pokerís most creative thinker and tortured soul, this is the real deal!
DOYLE BRUNSON, two-time world poker champion and author of the legendary bestseller Doyle Brunsonís SuperSystem: A Course in Power Poker

Even though Stuey Ungar was perhaps the greatest poker player ever to live, his talent at card playing wasnít close to being his most compelling characteristic. Stuey was a little bit of a gangster, genius, madman, tragic hero and cardsharp. Add it all up, as Dalla and Alson have done in captivating style, and you get one of the most unusual characters to ever appear on the Vegas scene.í
ANDY BELLIN, author of Poker Nation

Reader beware the seductive blue flame. To illuminate the triumphant yet scorchingly hideous forty-five years Stuey Ungar spent among us, Dalla and Alson have produced an acetylene torch of a book. There was no other way to write a story like this. The Man Behind the Shades is a lesson in no-limit hold íem as well as a terrifying pleasure.
JAMES MCMANUS, author of Positively Fifth Street

If you want an "education" in the old time gambling underworld, you canít do better than The Man Behind the Shades. Although youíd never want to live it, Ungarís life, as drawn by Dalla and Alson, is riveting, haunting and compelling. Ungarís legacy of genius, destroyed by indulgence, would seem absurd as fiction; as truth it is a gripping epic tragedy.
BRIAN KOPPELMAN and DAVID LEVIEN, screenwriters of Rounders and Runaway Jury

Here, in vivid and compelling detail, is the Stuey I knew and feared at the poker table ... a rare poker genius, but a tragically flawed human being.
ANTHONY HOLDEN, author of the poker classic BIG DEAL

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