Three Poker Legends No Longer With Us
Players are referred to a poker legends too frequently in this game, but some players are deserving of that status. There are some players who play now who are poker legends in their own right. The likes of Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth and Phil Ivey to name just three. But what about the legendary figures who are no longer with us? Let us take a look at three true legends of the game.
No list of poker legends is complete with Stu Ungar. Born in Manhattan, New York in 1954, Ungar showed signs of having a photographic memory from an early age. Ungar was a phenomenal gin rummy player, some say one of the best ever, before finding poker.
Ungar once said about his gin rummy prowess, “Some day, 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 to you, I don’t see how anyone could ever play gin better than me.”
Poker became Ungar’s full-time game when he could no longer find any gin rummy action. He headed to Las Vegas, Nevada in 1977 and never looked back. This most elite of the poker legends won the World Series of Poker Main Event three times. Five WSOP bracelets adorned his wrist.
Many regard Ungar as the best no limit hold’em player ever, but his drug addiction took over. Infamously, Ungar was playing in the 1990 WSOP Main Event and reached Day 3. He never showed up and was found unconscious in his hotel room. Ungar reached the final table and busted in ninth-place despite not playing another hand, such was his chip lead at the time.
Sadly, Ungar died on November 20th, 1998 in his Oasis Motel room. He only had $800 on his person despite winning $30 million in his career, he had no other assets.
David “Chip” Reese
David “Chip” Reese is regarded as the best-ever cash game player and perhaps the best all-round player. Reese was born in Ohio but resided in Las Vegas most of his adult life. An intelligent man, Stanford Law School admitted Reese, although he chose to become a professional poker player.
Reese collaborated on the seven-card stud section of the poker strategy book Super System. He won a $1,000 Stud event at the 1978 WSOP and another in a $5,000 event in 1982. His last bracelet was the $50,000 HORSE Championship in 2006.
Doyle Brunson said of Reese, “He’s certainly the best poker player that ever lived.”
Some sources state Reese died from the effects of pneumonia. Others claim a blood clot from a gastric bypass killed him. Whatever it was, one of the true poker legends passed away on December 4th, 2007.
Reese’s name is remembered every year at the WSOP because the last tournament he won is named after him. The $50,000 Poker Players Championship awards the “Chip Reese Memorial Trophy”.
David “Devilfish” Ulliott
David Ulliott is another of our poker legends who helped shape the game today. Ulliott was born in Hull, United Kingdom in 1954 and enjoyed a colorful life.
He began betting on horses after his first-ever bet won at +5000. Ulliott turned to a life of crime and was part of a safe-cracking team. He was eventually caught and spent some time in jail. Ulliott started taking poker seriously in 1990 and would travel around the UK looking for high stakes cash game action.
In 1997, Ulliott won a $500 pot-limit Omaha tournament, the Four Queens Poker Classic in Las Vegas. The Brit defeated Men “The Master” Nguyen heads-up, with an Ulliott fan nicknaming him the Devilfish. Vegas became a regular haunt of Ulliott and he won his first and only WSOP bracelet in 1997.
Ulliott was a regular feature on the UK televised poker show Late Night Poker. Here, he would wear a suit and orange-tinted sunglasses and talk trash to his opponents.
He was a real character, one of the biggest poker legends, until colon cancer claimed him on April 6, 2015.
There are so many more poker legends we could have talked about. These include Johnny Moss, “Nick The Greek”, Jack “Treetop” Straus, Gavin Smith, Amarillo Slim and more. Who ranks number one in the world of poker legends for you?