Of all the greatest poker players in history, there is one that stands out for his genius IQ, bizarre personality, percentage of major tournament wins, and even his generosity.
His name was Stu Ungar. Born in 1953 in Manhattan, he tragically died only 45 years later after years of substance abuse. Had Ungar been able to face his demons, who knows what he would have achieved.
Today’s post is a collection of 26 of the best quotes by and about “Stuey”. I hope the following quotes will help you appreciate his talent, understand his dark side, and get an idea of what his life looked like.
Without further ado…
Best quotes by Stu Ungar
I was a freak. I was like a Bobby Fischer, it was freaky what I did. People would teach me a card game that I never played, and two days later I’d be better than them at a card game they’d been playing for thirty years.
Fold and live to fold again.
On some days, 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, I don’t see how anyone could ever play gin better than me.
I never want to be called a good loser. A good loser is still a loser.
I never took a drink, or did anything. I was the straightest kid you’ve ever seen. I went over to some friend of mine’s house, and there was a bottle of cocaine on the table, and I said, what’s that? I’ve never seen it before.
There’s no one that ever beat me playing cards. The only one that ever beat me was myself.
My father was one of the biggest bookmakers in New York. He was a millionaire when a million meant something. My father hated when I gambled, and I was very afraid of my father.
When the cards are dealt, I just want to destroy people.
I don’t think I’m going to reach 65 because I put a lot of wear and tear on myself. You know what I do is only bad to myself. I’m very good to other people.
I believe in heaven and hell and I’m very scared of being damned. I pray, but it seems I only really pray when I almost feel like I’m dying.
I will not show any tears in public. I cried myself to sleep when my son committed suicide. I never show any fear or anything under any circumstances. Put a gun to my head and I wouldn’t bat an eyelash.
It’s hard work. Gambling. Playing poker. Don’t let anyone tell you different. Think about what it’s like sitting at a poker table with people whose only goal is to cut your throat, take your money, and leave you out back talking to yourself about what went wrong inside.
I used to go to Monticello racetrack when I was ten years old, go to the windows and bet $50 a horse. I used to give money to strangers to make the bet for me.
Naturally, if another person would gamble like me, they would call them a degenerate gambler. But when you’re successful at it, when you make your living at it, you’re not a degenerate anymore.
Best quotes about Stu Ungar
I played with him each day, and I never saw anybody that improved from day to day like he did in that tournament.Doyle Brunson
In his craft, nobody was quicker, nobody was smarter, and nobody was better. He thought quickly on his feet, he was light years ahead of the other players, and people feared him.Mike Sexton
It angers everybody in the poker world that he did not get control of his life. We will never know exactly the extent of his talent.Doyle Brunson
He did have an insatiable appetite for action. He was an action freak, as we say.Mike Sexton
He put me aside and said, you look terrible, what’s the matter with you? I said, having some problems at home… And he gave me $10,000 in $100 bills. He said, you need some money? Here. Whenever you can pay me back, pay me back, and if you don’t pay me back, I don’t care. And he walked away.Stephen Stein
I remember we were walking on the strip one time, and this guy came up behind Stuey, and he said, I’m broke, can you help me out? Stuey took a $100 bill and handed it out behind him, and the guy took it and went away. I said, Stuey, who was that? He said, I don’t know, had I known his name, I would have given him $200.Doyle Brunson
I thought to myself, this just must be some rich kid. I didn’t know that I was looking at the best gin rummy player that ever lived.Doyle Brunson
Other quotes about Stu Ungar
He just did things in a huge, huge way, whatever it was. Playing, snorting — nobody could keep up with him.Larry Grossman
He was naive to a lot of the worldly things. So I went to go buy the home, I went to go buy the cars, I had to do everything.Madeleine Wheeler
He thought you write a check and the check is good. He didn’t realize you have to go to the bank, and put the money in the bank, for it to be good.Madeleine Wheeler
He acted as any hardcore drug addict might act. He was horribly abusive. He was in no way the worst, but he was horrible. He was horrible to deal to. I don’t know if he was manic or had something going on, he was absolutely genius, he thought about poker in ways that wouldn’t even be written about for 25 years.Jan Fisher
I can remember one time at the Dunes hotel in Las Vegas, he was going up to his room to get some. So I went up to the room, the desk had a glass table top, and all the way across the table top it looked like somebody stole a bag of salt. But I realized it was cocaine. I thought, this guy’s got a problem.Mike Sexton
Three crazy facts about Stu
Besides poker and gin rummy, “the kid” was also exceptionally good at the game of blackjack.
He knew how to count cards very accurately, and this gave him an advantage over the house — to the point where eventually all Vegas casinos did not allow him to play blackjack.
A casino owner once bet $100,000 that Stu would not be able to determine the last card of a six-deck blackjack deck.
Stu accepted the bet; he observed the first 311 cards as they were dealt on top of each other, said what the 312th card was, and won $100,000.
As said by his wife Madeleine, Stu was often very naive, and did not always know or understand the things in the outside world.
According to Wikipedia, he once bought a brand new Mercedes and drove it until it ran out of oil. He then brought the card back to the dealership, where a mechanic inspected the car.
Ungar was told he had to put oil in the car for it to be able to drive. He was amazed and replied “why the hell didn’t you tell me?”
Ungar also believed that if you had a bank account, and wrote a check, the check would be honored regardless of the amount of funds in the bank. He did not understand how banks worked, and always paid cash for everything.
As you may have read in the quotes, Ungar once gave his lawyer $10,000 in cash after hearing that he was having money problems. His lawyer did not ask for the money, nor did he know Stu had money on him.
Similarly, Doyle Brunson and Stu were walking on the Vegas stip once, when a random guy approached them and asked for money. Stu immediately gave the man $100, and said it would have been $200 had he known his name.
After a big win at the horses, Ungar took all his close friends, including Mike Sexton, out to a strip club, and paid for the whole night out. Sexton said he spent roughly $8,000.