First all, Great Britain, led by Margaret Thatcher, launched a disastrous move to overcome Argentina in the Falkland Islands conflict. While totally successful on a military basis, it left the impression of an elephant stepping on a mosquito and it was very hard for even a committed Anglophile like myself to hoist a pint of warm beer and scream "Hail Britannia!" at the top of my lungs, as I was accustomed to doing on a daily basis.
Then things really turned nasty when Princess Grace of Monaco ran her car off a cliff, killing herself and seriously injuring her daughter. For those of us to had fallen in love with Grace from her classic performances in some of Hitchcock's greatest films (including "Rear Window" and "to Catch a Thief") this was a shattering blow, from which many never fully recovered.
But, for fans of professional poker, 1982 was a shattering year for an entirely different reason. As you no doubt recall, Stu "The Kid" Ungar had absolutely shocked everyone in attendance at the World Series of Poker the previous two years by taking home the big prize. If there were only a few analysts and experts who gave him a snowball's chance in 1980, then almost no one was on this guyï¿½s side the following year in believing that he could pull off the miraculous feat of a back-to-back triumph.
So, as you can imagine, the entire city of Las Vegas was buzzing with anticipation as the 1982 WSOP rolled around. Could it be possible that Ungar would do what no player had ever done before: win three consecutive World Series of Poker main event titles? I can remember the excitement so clearly. I arrived at Ceasar's four days before the event began and did not sleep a wink until the final hand was played. Fortunately, a strictly regimented intake of vodka and pep pills kept me alert throughout the tournament.
1982 was the year Jack Straus won the main event in what some still believe was an unfair victory. In the now historic case of the "hidden chip" Straus managed to fight his way back from defeat with only one of $500 chip. In doing so, he crushed Ungar's dreams of making history. No matter what happens this year or in subsequent years at the WSOP, it is unlikely we will ever be treated to such a shocking conclusion again.