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X-22: Poker Pro, Former Backgammon World Champion Dies At 71

Paul Magriel Passes Away, Erik Seidel Says


Poker players and fans of the game during the 2000s will remember Paul Magriel’s face from TV coverage of poker’s richest tournaments. He passed away this week at the age of 71.

Poker legend Erik Seidel appeared to be the first to break the news on social media Tuesday. “Woke up to the sad news that backgammon legend Paul Magriel (X-22) has passed away,” Seidel Tweeted. “He changed the game with his book, was a generous champ and enthusiastic teacher. He changed my life and the lives of many others.”

Magriel rose to prominence in the backgammon community when he won the World Backgammon Championship in 1978. For the next several years he wrote a column on the game for The New York Times. According to a report from Bloomberg, backgammon tournament players still refer to Magriel’s book Backgammon as “the Bible.” Prior to backgammon, he was a chess standout, winning the New York State championship for juniors when he was 19.

He eventually found poker, and by the mid-1980s was cashing in some of the toughest tournaments on the circuit. He made a WPT final table in 2003. He cashed 10 times lifetime at the WSOP, with a personal best 683th place in the main event in 2010. Magriel also made a final table on the Professional Poker Tour. His last poker tournament score came last summer at the WSOP. He cashed for $3,600 after finishing 304th in a large no-limit hold’em field. He ended his poker career with more than $500,000 in lifetime earnings.

According to Magriel’s Wikipedia page, he is survived by a wife and son.

Here’s a look at a memorable hand he played against Phil Hellmuth at the 2005 WSOP.

Here’s a look at another Magriel hand from the PPT.