The Profile of a Di-generate Gambler: Unger

Sid Wyman
Stu Unger








The Erdnase profile theory. The book, Expert at the Card Table by S.W. Erdnase, was self published by the author because the writer basically said, “because I needed the money”

This statement fits the profile of a gambler that needed money because they lost in a game of poker or they won in a game of poker and then blew off the winnings to some other form of degenerate gambling. Players and hustlers are in constant need of money because they have bad habits. The author SW Erdnase said that he “bucked the Tiger”, meaning that he played The Bank, or game commonly called Faro.

This seems to fit a profile of a gambler who is constantly playing and looking for new sources of easy money. He is always looking for the next sucker or mark, that doesn’t have the playing ability nor the skills of a card sharp.

Every serious gambler I have ever known had a bad habit. For instance, Stuie Unger first visited the Dunes Hotel on a junket arranged by the legendary Jules “Julie” Weintraub. Julie brought a plane load full of gamblers to the Dunes every other week. To be eligible for the complimentary flight, free room, food and beverages for the Thursday to Sunday junket the player had to 1) be alive, 2) bring cash front money (a minimum of $2500-$5000), and 3) gamble in the casino.

Stu Unger’s parents operated a “Slosh” joint near Manhattan and Stu was raised amongst the best gamblers, kibitzers and characters that frequented this semi secretive card room that offered every kind of short card game under the sun.

Stu could beat most other players in gin rummy and on his first trip to the Dunes he had the opportunity to play the Dunes’s big boss, that we the floorman and dealers referred to as Pacone Grande. If Sid Wyman was walking near the game we where supervising or dealing, the code word Paco was said aloud to another adjacent dealer, to alert the worker to be on his best behavior.
Pacone Grande meant the big boss Sidney Wyman was near and to be very careful. You never knew what kind of mood he might be in.

Wyman and his partners controlled the Dunes Hotel and made it the success that it enjoyed for many years before they sold out.
One of Wyman’s partners pushed the idea of “buying” business and the New York junket became one of the many successful junket operations that the Dunes was known to cater.

I don’t know who conceived the idea of Wyman playing Unger in a round of Gin, but I watched the massacre. In the adjacent poker room, I could see the action develop from my ladder chair in the Baccarat pit. A special table was cleared and Wyman and his kibitzers were on one side and little Stuie Unger was on the other side. Wyman has about 15 to 30 in his gallery while Unger had but one person. I think Stu was not yet 21 years old at the time, but had a reputation of a class A gin rummy player.

It is conceivable,but not provable , that a kibitzer in Wyman’s gallery may have tipped off Wyman’s hand to Unger, because I saw several cross roaders paying close attention to Sid’s play. It was easy enough to see what Wyman was holding. But even if Unger got some assistance, he really didn’t need it. Wyman lost $75,000 on the play.
Unger then followed suit of the profile of every generate gambler and went over to the crap table and lost it all.

This degeneracy profile of shooting craps, playing the horses or bucking the tiger is a sickness that seems to be in every serious gambler who is there to be in the action whether they win or lose.

It is like the guy who follows the elephants, cleaning up after them in a parade, when asked why don’t you get a better job? His answer is,”What, and give up show business?”

More on my Erdnase theory later.