Poker is an interesting game where making the right decisions can get you a long way. While many poker players credit the mind sport for helping them make careful decisions in their life, there are some who have not stuck to the principles of the game in real life. We’re talking about players who were once considered top pros but eventually went broke due to their poor decisions. In this article, we’ll be looking at three world poker pros that tastedgreat success but eventually ended up penniless towards the end of their lives.
The story of poker player Archie Karas takes a complete 360-degree turn and is one that many find fascinating. Nicknamed ‘The Greek,’ Karas arrived in Las Vegas in 1992 with only $50 to his name and a dream of making it big. He then took a $10,000 loan from a friend and turned it to $30,000 after playing Razz poker. Between 1992 to 1995, Karas collected a fortune with his net worth, reaching a whopping $40,000,000.
It was within these three short years that Karas even broke the record for the most remarkable and longest winning run, in casino history. However, following his incredible success, Karas found it difficult to look for new poker opponents and moved on to other games. Thus, began his downfall. He lost an astounding $11,000,000 which was then followed by an even bigger loss of $17,000,000 in Baccarat. Within two days, Karas incurred a loss of over $30,000,000!
However, this was not the end, as he continued to lose money playing Baccarat and within a fortnight, he experienced a loss of over $40,000,000!
There are many great poker players, but Stu Ungar is considered to be a poker legend. Till date, he is considered to be one of the best Hold’em players in the world. While his legendary poker status is something worth talking about, the story behind his rise and fall has managed to intrigue many.
He first rose to fame when he won the 1980 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event at a young age. Due to this, he earned himself the nickname ‘The Kid.’ Incredibly, this also happened to be Ungar’s very first poker tournament. He repeated his success when he won a second WSOP bracelet in 1981 and took home $95,000 in prize money.
Altogether, Ungar accumulated almost $30,000,000 in poker winnings throughout his career. However, while he was at his peak, the cracks in his life began to show after he won his second WSOP title. Ungar took to cocaine to get through long poker sessions which eventually spiraled into a full-blown addiction. Due to his abuse of cocaine, Ungar’s nose had even collapsed twice.
Soon after, he turned into a compulsive gambler where he would win money on poker tables but lose them all to betting on horse races and other gaming events. His last WSOP win came in 1997 when he clinched the Main Event title but eventually spent all his winnings on his drug addiction. In 1998, Ungar died of a heart disease caused by years of drug abuse. At the time of his death Ungar lost over $30,000,000 and died penniless.
David ‘Chino’ Rheem first made it to the spotlight in 2006 after his runner-up finishes in WSOP 2016 where he made about $328,000 in total. In August 2011, he won a whopping $1,000,000 after shipping the $20,000,000 6-Max No-Limit Hold’em in the first edition of the Epic Poker League. He also won three World Poker Tour (WPT) titles in 2008, 2013, and 2016, respectively.
Among these wins, his greatest one came when he shipped the Season VII Doyle Brunson Five Diamond Poker Classic event which fetched him a sizable $1,540,000. He also took home $1,115,000 in prize money after shipping the WPT Championship tournament in 2013.
While Rheem is a good poker player, he also was in a lot of debt after selling his action to his friends and failing to pay them back after winning. After he clinched the Epic Poker League title in 2011, Rheem’s membership was put on probation after it came to light that the owed money to many of his colleagues.
It was also alleged that Rheem owed money to top players namely Tom Dwan, Joseph Cheong, Will Molson to name a few. With so much debt to be paid, it is believed that Rheem is not far away from filing for bankruptcy.
The poker boom in the early 2000s gave rise to many well-known poker players. Erick Lindgren emerged as one among the many popular names of that time. At the peak of his career, Lindgren landed a sponsorship deal with the poker platform Full Tilt Poker which fetched him $300,000 every month. Dubbed the ‘E-Dog,’ Lindgren shipped his first WSOP title in the $5,000 Mixed Hold’em event in 2008, where he won $374,505 in prize money.
He took home another bracelet when he clinched the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em Six-Handed event in the 2013 WSOP. This win fetched him $606,317 in winnings. But while Lindgren was a world-class player, his fall from fame came after he started spending huge amounts of his winnings on fantasy sports. He would spend anywhere between $50,000 to $100,000 on each game during this period.
He was then accused of owing fellow players money with one of the biggest claims being made by Haralabos Voulgaris, whom Lindgren reportedly owed a six-figure sum for many years. His gambling problem came to light in 2012 when he could not fund a $100,000 buy-in a private fantasy league. Lindgren eventually filed for bankruptcy in 2015 and had debts that were reportedly over $12,000,000.
That concludes our list of poker players who tasted fortune but eventually sunk in misery. If you think we’ve missed out on any poker stories like these, let us know in the comments below!
Donna Amo was a writer at Gutshot Magazine. She is a graduate from Sophia College of Women, Mumbai with a degree in English Literature. When this October born foodie is not writing content or poetry, she spends her time laughing at memes or watching series. Based out of Mizoram, she is drawn to all things nature and has a soft spot for puppies.
SUBMIT YOUR ARTICLE
SUBMIT YOUR ARTICLE