Poker fans can watch a bit of poker history Thursday when "High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story" airs on the Encore channel. The two hour movie based on the poker star's career starts at 2:40 p.m. EDT.
"High Roller" is A.W. Vidmer's first film and was first released in 2003 with the title "Stuey." Inspired by true events, the movie tells the story of Stu Ungar, a card prodigy who went from winning gin rummy tournaments to winning three World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Events.
Michael Imperioli, best known for his role as Christopher Moltisanti on "The Sopranos," plays Ungar, who won the WSOP Championship in 1980 and 1981 before his life took a downward spiral because of alcohol, drugs, and gambling addictions. In 1997, with the help of friends, he was able to make a comeback and win the WSOP one more time.
Ultimately he was conquered by his addiction and was found dead in his hotel room Nov. 22, 1998.
"On the surface, 'Stuey' is the story of a gambler who is ultimately unable to conquer his own demons despite recognizing them. But on a deeper level for me, 'Stuey' explores the connection between genetics and environment, and how each contribute to the recurring patterns in our lives," said Vidmer in a press release for the movie in 2003.
"We are given certain gifts, and depending on how those attributes are stimulated, we develop them either for good or to the detriment of ourselves and our world. We are self-determining, yet we are all victims of our own life circumstances."
Another resource for those interested in learning more about Stu Ungar is the book "One of a Kind" by Nolan Dalla and Peter Alson.