The Faces of Cards: Famous Players That Changed Games

The Faces of Cards: Famous Players That Changed Games

Logic, tactics, mathematics, forethought, and, in some cases, a little bit of luck are all part of card games. From casual players to professionals, there’s skill at every level. Indeed, when you read the words of world-class minds such as Mike Lawrence and the inimitable Chip Martel, you can see that they think on multiple levels. These levels are what make certain card games so complex and, in turn, so interesting and engaging.

Skills That Transcend the Game

Since the turn of the millennium, one card game above all others has stolen the limelight. Thanks to the advent of online card gaming, and having the opportunity to learn how to play card games online, poker has taken the world by storm. As beginners found their way into the game back in the early noughties, it triggered a renaissance. Today, online poker is part of an industry that’s worth more than $66 billion. Within this industry, famous faces have risen up to become celebrities in their own right.

Hey @TigerWoods, I’m All In for the next round

— Phil Ivey (@philivey) May 25, 2020

Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, and Phil Hellmuth have proved their worth time and time again. As well as dozens of tournament titles, these pros have each won in excess of $20 million, and that figure doesn’t even include cash game earnings. In fact, such has been their success that they’ve managed to transcend the game. Negreanu, for example, has rubbed shoulders with former American President Barrack Obama. Ivey now has a string of businesses outside of the game, including a sports management company called All-In Entertainment. By all measures, they’re among the best in the business. Moreover, they’re examples of how skill in poker can lead to consistent results and, in turn, success in the game.

From Blackjack to Rummy

Wrapped up in this digital gaming revolution are casino games and, specifically, blackjack. Although it sits more towards the luck end of the spectrum than poker, there are skills to be learned. There is a basic blackjack strategy that tells players what they should do in different scenarios based on the visible cards, as well as general tips for beginners that are relevant across different blackjack variants. Methods such as this have helped teach a generation to play. Through online casino sites, players are able to access all manner of blackjack games. From European to Vegas single deck, there are a number of different variants that players should master. That’s where the advice of pros has become invaluable.

From poker and blackjack, we get to another classic card game where skill prevails. Gin rummy is regarded by some as the ultimate two-player card game. According to the Grand Gin Rummy app, the game’s roots can be traced back to 1909. The modern game is a cross between conquian and rum (aka knock rummy). The aim is to create hands (melds) and avoid deadwood (useless cards) in order to score points. Different melds have different values and it’s the first player to reach a pre-set target that wins. The skill in gin rummy is working out what hands your player can make and playing your cards accordingly. Backgammon champion Oswald Jacoby was a world-class gin rummy player. However, the man considered by many to be the greatest was Stu Ungar.

One Man Proved That Skill Sticks in Cards

In fact, it’s Ungar who connects rummy with poker and the casino world. As well as being a World Series of Poker (WSOP) champion and a skilled blackjack player, Ungar was an unbeatable rummy player. In fact, he was so skilled at reading his opponents that some suspected he was psychic. In reality, he was simply so adept at understanding the dynamics of a deck and human psychology that he looked like a clairvoyant. Perhaps his greatest achievement was his dominance, although folklore has it that Ungar’s performances in the 70s and 80s led to the decline of tournament rummy. He won so much money, no one else wanted to play.

Whether that’s true or not is up for debate. However, the fact remains that Ungar was a master of cards. From rummy to poker and blackjack, he had a knack for reading people and the deck. In a broader context, the rise of Ungar and Ivey et al shows that card games aren’t all about luck. Moreover, these players in the world have shown us what’s possible. For anyone that enjoys card games, this is inspiring. We know from the greats of the industry that skills are transferable. So, if you want to take what you’ve learned from our game and put it into action somewhere else, you can.