Read One of a Kind: The Rise and Fall of Stuey "The Kid" Ungar, the World's Greatest Poker Player by Nolan Dalla Peter Alson Online


Stuey Ungar, the son of a Lower East Side bookie, grew up in a New York of the 1950s and '60s that was straight out of Damon Runyon. By his early teens, he had dropped out of high school and was spending most of his time in the city's under- ground card rooms. So prodigious was his talent for playing gin rummy that he soon found himself bankrolled by members of the GenovesStuey Ungar, the son of a Lower East Side bookie, grew up in a New York of the 1950s and '60s that was straight out of Damon Runyon. By his early teens, he had dropped out of high school and was spending most of his time in the city's under- ground card rooms. So prodigious was his talent for playing gin rummy that he soon found himself bankrolled by members of the Genovese crime family. After thrashing every top gin player on the East Coast, he was forced to broaden his horizons--traveling around the country to find opponents and also learning other card games, including poker. At twenty-one, he moved to Las Vegas for good and quickly found mentors in poker legends such as Jack "Treetop" Straus, "Amarillo Slim" Preston, Doyle Brunson, and Chip Reese, who embraced the skinny five-foot-five kid with the Rimbaud aura. Soon enough, Ungar was playing in the biggest games at the famous Dunes poker room, learning the finer points of the game at incredible speed.In 1980, competing in his second tournament ever and playing a game--no-limit Texas Hold'em--he'd just learned, he shocked the poker universe by winning the World Series of Poker. He would go on to win the event a record three times. In One of a Kind, authors Nolan Dalla and Peter Alson tell the startling tale of a man who managed to win millions of dollars and live the highest of high-roller lives without ever quite understanding or respecting the value of money. Whether tossing away his winnings at the racetrack or on a single roll of the dice, Ungar was notorious for gambling every single dollar in his pocket on a daily basis. The risk that he embodied in his gambling carried over to his personal life. He had no concept ofnight or day. He didn't own a wristwatch, didn't have a bank account, and for years had no home address or personal possessions. For all his gambling successes, at the end of his life he bounced between hotel rooms, casinos, and crack houses, dependent upon the kindness of friends and strangers.This intimate, authorized biography illuminates the dark genius of poker's most charismatic and mysterious star, who could ruthlessly peer into and read other men's souls but seemed baffled and powerless when confronted with his own....

Title : One of a Kind: The Rise and Fall of Stuey "The Kid" Ungar, the World's Greatest Poker Player
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780743476584
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 591 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

One of a Kind: The Rise and Fall of Stuey "The Kid" Ungar, the World's Greatest Poker Player Reviews

  • Craig LaSalle
    2018-12-02 16:37

    The Stu Ungar story is amazing. He was definitely a phenomenal genius, who reminds me so much of that other New York city brash and eccentric genius, Bobby Fischer. The prose was solid and uninspired for the most part, but the content (Ungar's life) is drama par excellence.In the words of chess master and poker pro Ken Smith, who would declare them while waving around his giant cowboy hat after he won a hand: "Wow, what a player!"

  • Tyler Jones
    2018-11-12 18:40

    For those of us who only knew of the outline of his life this book provides a satisfyingly full portrait of Stuart Ungar. I appreciated that the authors maintained a moral neutrality - neither condemning nor defending his self-destruction. I came away feeling he was neither fully to blame for his own demise nor simply a victim of demons beyond his power to fight. This strikes me as probably close to the truth. Stuey's life was far from common and I was completely engrossed in his story. Dalla and Alson keep the narrative moving at a propulsive pace that matches any novel and even though I knew how it would end I still found myself needing to know what-happens-next.And as a portrait of addiction it also rings true. At one point, the authors explain Stuey's addiction to sports betting and horse racing by saying that it was the sheer uncontrollable nature of these activities that made them irresistible to Ungar. This observation, I think, is essential to understanding the allure of gambling - the thrill of making a bet so big that it will make a big difference to your life on a game in which you have no control over who wins or loses is a thrill that has no equal. A thrill Stu Ungar describes in the book as being greater than any drug.A cautionary tale? I guess so. I never felt I was being preached at, however. I think the message here is a simple one- you could be the greatest poker player that ever lived, but the love of your family and the support of your friends are more valuable than anything.

  • Yash Dalmia
    2018-11-25 22:42

    A journey with the young Stuey, a card playing sensation till his death upon succumbing to his drug habits. A man with an inborn talent for cards, arguably the best gin rummy player ever and possibly the best poker player to grace this world. The genius of this man is mind blowing. I am an avid poker fan and absolutely loved this detailed depiction of Stuey's life, especially his action seeking compulsion and his genius at the tables. The roller coaster life ride of this man is sickening. A must read for anyone even remotely interested in gambling or card games.

  • Martin Moleski
    2018-11-26 16:49

    If I had the time and money, I'd be dead from gambling and any number of other addictions that destroyed Stuey Ungar. If not for the grace of God, this would be my story--except I wouldn't have won as much money or as many bracelets as Ungar did. I don't have anything like that talent. What I have is the same kind of hunger for action and the same kind of broken heart that refuses to be filled with the kind of everyday happiness that life has to offer.May he rest in peace.

  • Tom Grover
    2018-12-06 15:45

    The basics of Stu Ungar's life are fairly well known: his upbringing in New York, proficiency at gin rummy, transition to poker, drug addiction, 1997 comeback and 1998 ignominious death. This book does a fantastic job of filling in the details of Stu's truly unparalleled life. I appreciated that the author did not glorify or glamorize Ungar, whose life was cut short and made miserable by drug abuse. At the same time, it would have been unfair to paint a picture of someone who was great at poker and had a drug problem. This book does a nice job of telling the complex story of who Stu Ungar was. In addition to the poker and drugs, he was innocent and naive like a child, generous to a fault and a loving, if flawed, father.I like to play recreational poker, mostly small buy-in tournaments. Anytime I have a good streak, I like to remind myself that the very best poker player in history - who had won over $30M - died with $800 to his name in a seedy motel across from the Stratosphere. To that end, Stu's life is a cautionary tale that it is practically impossible to make money long-term playing poker. The reason for this is simple, and can be read between the lines in this book. To win a poker, you have to be fearless. To be fearless, you have to be indifferent to, and even disrespect your own money. If you have that attitude, it's nearly impossible to hold on to your money away from the felt. Stu disrespected his money. Paradoxically, this is part of what made him a great poker player, but it also is what made him so incredibly irresponsible and incompetent with his money away from the poker tables. In turn, this is what brought so much misery to his life.Stu Ungar was a product of innate talent, the circumstances of his upbringing and living in Las Vegas. It's unlikely that any person will ever emerge again quite like him. This is an incredible story that is stranger than fiction.

  • Kyle Clark
    2018-11-16 20:21

    A must read

  • Robert Jonsson
    2018-11-30 19:51

    Inte den mest välskrivna biografi jag läst, den är för att tala klarspråk träig. Jag får helt enkelt inga bilder, blir inte riktigt engagerad. Det är lite som att läsa en faktabok och därmed bjuds jag inte med på samma sätt som jag gör då en bok är riktigt bra skriven. De kursiverande styckena - där man får höra Stu’s röst i presens - bryter det återberättande textflödet och lättar upp och skänker boken lite mer närvaro och nerv. Men ändå, det är Stu Ungar! Tidernas bästa pokerspelare. ’The comeback kid ’, killen som vann Vm två gånger i rad -80 och 81 och gjorde det igen en tredje gång sexton år efteråt. Då inledde han första tävlingsdagen utan att ha sovit på två dygn. Som nästintill uteliggare och svårt drogberoende gick han runt som en spillra och tjatade på alla att betala hans anmälningsavgift. Det såg lönslöst ut, han var ett vrak. Men en timme innan start slantade Billy Baxter upp 10.000 $. Fyra dagar senare var återkomsten ett faktum. Ett år senare låg han i en enkel träkista där kollekten på begravningen användes för att täcka kostnaderna för hans egen begravning. Ett geni, och som så många andra inom den kategorin, en självdestruktiv och splittrad människa.Även om inte tonen i boken fick mig att snärta sidor. Så gav mig den i alla fall mer insyn och kunskap kring hans liv. Och det är inte svårt att förstå motsägelsen av det som uppfyllde honom när han hade världen för sina fingrar och i andras ögon uppnått allt. Närheten till vad som helst, när som helst. Men samtidigt, det mesta med en känsla av meningslös tomhet. Och det som senare följde,ensamhet, självförakt och rädsla för det där rummet i honom själv som han ständigt återvände till. Utan att själv riktigt kunna förstå varför. Det är nog precis som Stuey själv säger : ”Din största fiende vid pokerborden är dig själv.” En sanning som precis som mycket annat i pokern sträcker sig ut från den gröna duken. Något att ta till sig för den som bär på lite av samma självdestruktiva drag som den störste ’lilla’ killen av dem alla.

  • Matt Cromartie
    2018-11-17 15:27

    A fascinating read through the life of one of the most brilliant card players of all time and one of the most tormented souls of all time. Stuey Ungar grew up in New York, looking over the shoulder of his father who was part bar owner and part bookie. He instantly fell in love with the gambling life, which would prove to be an avenue to greatness and to his downfall. Blessed with a spectacular memory and calculating mind, Stuey quickly became a darling of the NY mob, making money for them and being protected by them. There will likely never be a better gin player in the history of the world than Stuey. He was all but unbeatable at a game that involved a significant amount of luck. A case could also be made than when Stuey was engaged and sober, he was the greatest poker player of all time. Whatever he was, he could have been much more if he had been able to fill the hole in his soul that it seemed only his love for his daughter could ever cover up. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Stu Ungar, poker or the gambling life. It is a very solid effort by two of the premiere poker writers of our time. The only reason it didn't get four stars is that I want to be miserly with my four and five star ratings, saving them for the best books. This book was very good, always entertaining, well put together and highly recommended to the right audience, but less than spectacular. If I could I'd give it 3.5 stars.

  • Zach
    2018-12-05 16:45

    Well written. Suprisingly interesting biography. The author has done a great deal of research and interviewed dozens of people, the result is a very full picture of Stuey Unger his personality and the demons that evantually consumed him. The book also provides insight into the personality of gamblers, the need for action and that at a certain point the money is not as important as the rush and the action. Also through Unger's story the reader can see the evolution of Vegas over the past 30-40 years and of gambling, especially poker; how poker moved from games controlled by organized crime or illegal games in backrooms in Texas to the poker room at the Mirage and ESPN coverage and corporate sponsorship.Also, recommend the audio book--Ithe narrator did an especially good job of giving the different people unique voices.

  • J.C.
    2018-12-10 21:26

    I can't say I loved this book because I was skimming through about the last 100 pages or so, but I found the life of Stu Ungar pretty fascinating as well. The only man to actually win Binion's World Series of Poker three times (and the pound-for-pound, hands down, no contest, end the debate right now, best Gin Rummy player ever, [apparently]) lived a short and depressing life chasing the action wherever he could find it. A sad read. If I had more interest in Poker, or more enthusiasm for reading the sadder stuff on my book shelves (I'm working on clearing it out right now, man its going to be a depressing couple of months!), I probably would have really loved this.

  • Joe
    2018-12-06 15:51

    Be forewarned that this is less a poker book than a book about the downward spiral of an unbalanced addict who also happened to be one of the greatest card players (not just poker) ever. Ungar's rise in the poker world and his three WSOP championships are detailed, but the reader is also given a lot of insight into his demons and his ultimate destruction.Ungar is maddening because he has this amazing talent that he ultimately throws away, and it makes the book a little depressing. Watching him waste his ability is hard to continue reading about, moreso when he makes the occasional comeback. It is also sad to see how it affects his family and prevents him from having more than a cursory relationship with his daughter.

  • Andrew Wanner
    2018-11-19 23:46

    I thought this book was fantastic... it is written with the type of admiration that you would expect for a book whose title refers to someone as 'the world's greatest' anything... but has the type of honesty that you wouldn't expect. The title 'rise and fall' also brings up images of a ton of other biographies about successful people who got hooked on drugs but the honesty is present from start to finish and there is nothing done to glorify him at all. It starts with stories of him as a child, and his beginnings playing in mob run gin clubs and the character is easy to picture throughout.... Wirey, mouthy, impulsive and generous.

  • Alan Duggan
    2018-11-17 16:34

    What can i say, this book is an amazing insight into the life of the greatest poker player to ever play the game.Stuey Ungar was a genius but his addiction to drugs was his downfall.The book takes you through Stuey's life from a young boy to when he passes at an early age. Nolan Dalla writes in a way very easy to follow and describes many heartache moments in great detail.How can a man who has won millions gambling end up stealing a $1 poker chip just to feed himself ? Well it happens and its sad to read how it comes about.4 Stars from me. I would recommend this book to anyone.

  • Justin Lerer
    2018-12-03 21:45

    There is a great book to be written based on Stuey Ungar's life, but this is not it. You get a sense of Ungar as a wildly unpredictable person, but other than that, this book suffers from the fault of telling instead of showing. Ungar is a great poker and even better gin player, but where are the discussions of specific key hands? The book also doesn't look critically enough at Ungar's gambling addictions, which must have fueled his drug addictions. And speaking of his drug addictions, the book gives a free pass to Ungar's many friends and loved ones, at least some of whom had to be enablers or worse.Despite the flaws of this book, what a life!

  • Jim
    2018-11-11 16:23

    Sluggish and un-engaging, you'd think a book about a poker prodigy who goes to the dogs with drink and drugs in Las Vegas would be a story worth telling. But could you write about darts and make it exciting? I doubt it, and the same goes for poker, especially for the non-player where gobbledygook like "Steve discarded the flop with an ace showing and took a turn on the river" is about as enlightening as reading Polish. I gave this book a good attempt, but couldn't find an attraction to keep me going.

  • Tom
    2018-11-24 18:26

    A competent but unspectacular biography of an undeniably tragic figure. I think my ultimate problem with the book is that Stuey Ungar doesn't seem all that interesting. One of the greatest card players of all time, yes; but one never gets the sense that there's a lot underneath the surface other than a head for numbers, a good read on others, and a self-destructive streak a mile wide. If there was more underneath it all, it didn't really come through here. If you're looking for a roughly contemporaneous non-fiction poker story, I'd recommend "Positively Fifth Street" instead.

  • George
    2018-12-07 17:29

    The story of Stu Ungar, perhaps the greatest poker player ever. 2-time World Champion at the age of 26, youngest ever champion at the time. This story is about life and heartache as he loved what he does, had a photographic memory, an IQ of 185, and killed at the poker tables, but threw it all away on sports betting and drugs. To understand the pitfalls of the gambler's life, this is a must-read.

  • Damien
    2018-12-06 18:30

    Stuey "The Kid" Unger, unbeatable in gin, poker or any other card game was destined to be destroyed by his addictions.I can never get enough stories about the kid who was so unbelievably good at cards and so unable to manage his own life. This is a compelling collection of stories.The project was originally intended as an auto-biography and the last pages written by Unger are as haunting as anything I've ever read.

  • Mike Hoffman
    2018-11-10 15:24

    Terrific story about a terribly tragic and wonderfully troubled character. Stuey never grew up, lived in constant flux. The poor boy never grew up. He played games . . . he was a child. This story talks about how he was the BEST and it was partially because of and partially despite his lacking in other areas. This book is a true picture of him. Not one that sugar coats it. . . not one that villianizes Stuey. Its on e that tells HIS story. well! READ IT!

  • Danm
    2018-12-02 20:39

    This book and The Dark Side of the Felt are my two favorite poker books. This one tells a great story about the greatest poker player who ever lived, and how he was actually an even better gin player. He was a card genius. But like so many geniuses, he had an addictive drug habit. It's another rise-and-fall story, but it's done exceptionally well.

  • Lisa
    2018-11-14 15:43

    I read it because the Handsome Man wanted me to read it so we could talk about it. Not really my kind of book. I felt less sympathetic and more annoyed than I probably should of. This book will be good for people who like poker...and/ or addiction stories. That's about it.

  • Kirsten
    2018-11-21 20:43

    Utterly compelling read. Would have been tragic if it wasn't so inevitable. Don't know anything about poker or gambling but didn't need to. Authors seemed to tell his story fairly and realistically but also kindly, no bashing.

  • Jesse
    2018-11-28 21:34

    This is pretty much a 300 page version of the wikipedia article about him. I did learn that the MIT Blackjack Team didn't invent team counting; they just got the idea from the 1977 book The Big Player. That's on wikipedia, too.

  • Susan Scalza
    2018-11-23 22:36

    Excellent, unflinching history of the life of a misfit gin and poker prodigy through his own eyes and the eyes of those close to him. Chronicles his rise to championship, subsequent rises and falls, and untimely demise. An easy read about man who seemed doomed from the start.

  • Ben
    2018-12-03 20:31

    I really enjoyed this book as it allowed me a glimpse into the mind of one of the greatest poker players of all time. A truly gifted, but troubled, individual, Stu Ungar is both a legend and a cautionary tale for poker players.

  • John Reeves
    2018-11-23 16:23

    This was a great book, and It clearly shows you who the best poker player is/was in the history of the game. I never like reading books twice, however with this one, I'll definitely make an exception.

  • Tmone75 Harris
    2018-11-11 19:45

    This is a great book based on the life of Stu Unger.. I also saw this movie, but the book is much better. Its a rollercoaster type of book, just like the way he lived his life.

  • Sasha
    2018-12-08 19:26

    If you like poker and autobiographies, it's great

  • Elliott Hayes
    2018-11-20 18:41

    Fantastic.Best poker related book, one of the most interesting poker pros ever.

  • Bryan Grover
    2018-12-04 16:45

    Fantastic book. Reads and follows the same sort of cadence that wise guys by pileggi does. Definitely worth a read