I just read my first article on Stu Ungar, The Kid, who was renowned for being one of the greatest poker players of all time. He has a fascinating life, and I wonder about his abilities.
Does anyone know where his great ability came from? In the article I read, they made mention of his prodigious photographic memory, in which he once bet a guy $100,000 that he could name all the remaining cards in a half-played-out 6-deck shoe--and won the bet.
He was also able to read people to a tee, as a result, perhaps, of his upbringing as the son of a NYC bookie.
Both of these skills--a good memory and the ability to read people--are useful in magic. They are essential, however, in poker.
I find fascinating parallels to similar geniuses in magic, including Vernon, who was similarly obsessed with his own passion of magic to the exclusion of all else, including personal relationships and his own physical and financial welfare.