|Stu 'The Kid' Ungar Bad Beat Hand|
With the world series of
Poker's $10,000 main event attracting 6,600
players this year and an estimated $7.5m for
the first place, poker players would do well
to remember the days when poker was still an
underground pursuit. And, back in the 1980's
and 90's, no one personified this better
than Stu 'The Kid' Ungar, the three times
world champion, gin prodigy, sports betting
fanatic and drug addict.
As much of the first two factors made him, the last two broke him down entirely - after his WSOP wins in 1980 and 1981 he effectively entered a wilderness period of decadence and financial penury, and by the time the late 1990's arrived he looked like a ghost. But still the few friends he did have left were prepared to give him a last spin. In 1996 his long time backer Billy Baxter put up the $10,000 - but he was a wreck and excited in thirty minutes.
The next year, unable to reach Baxter with an hour to the start of play he scraped together $1,000 from his close friend Doc Earle and others, and played a ten- seater satellite. When it got to heads up Stuey got it all in with A-Q vs Q-7. The board came blanks for the first four cards, then on the river - boom, a seven. Bad beat!!
With no seat and minutes to the start of play, the kid tried Baxter one last time and got him, pleading for the money to enter. He was reluctant, but he had the sense that '(Stuey) wanted to play in that tournament more than anything, and in the end I didn't have the heart to tell him he couldn't'.
The rest, as they say, is history, although ironically Stuey would also win that year on a bad beat, against John Strzemp. Raising to $40,000 with A-4, Strzemp called him to see a flop of A, 3, 5 and bet $120,000, only for Stuey to go all-in. Strzemp called and was ahead with A-8. The turn came a 3, offering some split-pot possibilities, but the river was a fatal deuce, and Ungar was crowned champion for $1,000,000 in the same way he had nearly missed out on playing.