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The World's Coolest Poker Stories: Stu Ungar

2016-02-04 15:52 by gmblr

There are many famous stories from Stu Ungar's glory years, and some consider him to be the greatest poker tournament player that ever lived. But one story stands out above all others, and it involves a famous hand between Ungar and the 1990 World Series Main Event champion, Monsour Matloubi.

Ungar challenged Matloubi to a $50k heads-up game because of what had occurred in the 1990 WSOP. Stuey was one of the Main Event chip leaders going into the final day, and he was looking like a strong bet to win his third WSOP title. Unfortunately, Ungar never made it to the final table because he was lying on the floor of his hotel room, unconscious from a cocaine overdose. Billy Baxter, who staked Ungar's $10k Main Event buy-in, is the one who found him on the floor. Ungar was rushed to the hospital, where his life was saved. However, his chip stack was blinded off and he finished a disappointing 9th in the 1990 Main Event.

Determined to erase this embarrassment, Ungar challenged Matloubi and the latter accepted. This was a big deal too because most people considered Ungar to be the world's best poker player at the time. And if there was any hand that best exemplified his poker prowess, it was the following one that occurred between he and Matloubi...
With blinds at $250/$500 and stack sizes at $40k for Mansour Matloubi and $60k for Ungar, the latter raised to $1,600 from the small blind. Matloubi called with his 4-5 off-suit hand, which was no doubt a peculiar move.

The flop came out 3-3-7 rainbow, to which Matloubi checked and Ungar fired out a $6,000 bet; Matloubi called. The turn brought a king, and both players checked.
The river was a queen, which prompted Matloubi to shove his remaining $32,000 into the middle. After thinking for just 10 seconds, Ungar said, "I think you’ve got 5-6 or 4-5 so I’m going to call you with this." This was a pretty ballsy call since Ungar flipped over 9-10 for a mere 10-high hand. However, his suspicions were completely correct as Matloubi showed 4-5 and was caught on his cold bluff attempt.

Based on these reading abilities, it's no wonder why Stu Ungar is celebrated as one of the greatest poker players of all-time. The only tragedy is that he never could kick his cocaine addiction, and he died in 1998 due to a heart condition brought on by years of drug abuse.


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