Stu Ungar is considered by many poker aficionados to be one of the greatest natural talents the game has ever known. Now, many years after Ungar’s untimely passsing, one man is looking to profit from this notoriety.
Brought to the attention of the poker media by Nolan Dalla, a chip count card used by the legendary Ungar is now up for auction on eBay courtesy of Frank J. Marci for a mere $2,249.49.
For anyone who’s ever been to a major poker tournament in the past, one’s chip count card isn’t something many would consider a “rare” item worth bidding on, no matter how successful the holder was. After all, it’s just a pre-printed casino paper that gets filled in by hand to verify a player’s end-of-day chip count going into the next day of play.
However, Marci’s piece of Ungar history is significant for two reasons. The first reason Marci believes his chip count card is worth at least five figures is because it’s from the 1997 WSOP Main Event, the event Ungar went on to win just one year before he passed away.
The second reason Marci has described his item as “the most important piece of Ungar memorabilia ever on eBay” is because it bears the great man’s signature. While that may not mean much in the modern day, it’s a rare thing for Ungar.
According to Dalla’s blog post about the item, Ungar would rarely sign anything, and throughout his life he never wrote a check, signed a credit card, or gave his John Hancock to a fan. Because of this, Ungar’s handwriting is about as rare as his natural ability for the game.
How Marci came to own the item intrigued Dalla, who was able to find out the eBay dealer obtained it from a trading card company. After hunting for a genuine Ungar signature for many years, Marci eventually stumbled on an offer by Leaf Trading Cards. After contacting the company owner, Marci found the card with Ungar’s signature and immediately bought it.
With the item now gathering dust, Marci is selling it on eBay with that starting bid of $2,249.49, but something is ultimately only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it.
As of this writing, no one has anted up yet, but you have until midday Monday, June 8 to get your hands on something that some believe could be a prized possession for any serious poker collector.
WSOP for Sale: What’s Sold and Who’s Sold It
The culture of selling WSOP memorabilia is nothing new, and over the years a number of trinkets have gone under the virtual hammer.
One of the most common items to be auctioned online are WSOP winners’ bracelets, of course. Although the sellers often opt to remain anonymous (probably because they’ve gone broke and may feel embarrassed), a little detective work has often uncovered who the original owner was.
Among former champions pawning their possessions in recent years was Jamie Gold. Back in 2013, the 2006 WSOP World Champion’s bracelet sold for $65,725; however, according to Gold, he wasn’t the man selling it.
The auction house later confirmed that the seller wanted to remain anonymous and that the bracelet was auctioned as part of a larger consignment that some speculate may have been a bankruptcy liquidation.
Regardless of the seller, it shows that Main Event bracelets, and WSOP memoribilia in general, have cachet, although whether or not anyone will actually spend thousands on what is essentially a piece of paper remains to be seen.