Anyone who has been around for a while should recognize the name Paul Magriel. He was a regular fixture at poker tournaments during the ‘90s and into the early 2000s; a strong opponent with a hearty nature and a love for the game. The 71-year-old has now left us, having passed away Monday in his sleep. He is survived by his wife and a son.
Magriel began playing poker after already proving his strategic capabilities in other sports. He was a successful competitor in chess, and won the New York State junior championship when he was 19. Following his time with the rooks and pawns, he segued into backgammon and in 1978, became the World Backgammon champion. He spent the next several years writing a piece on backgammon for The New York Times and even wrote a book on the subject, succinctly entitled ‘Backgammon.’ The book, which he wrote with his wife Renée, is considered by most to be the backgammon “Bible,” even today. He subsequently wrote an abridgement on the topic called, “An Introduction to Backgammon: A Step-by-Step Guide.”
Looking for a new challenge, the Las Vegas resident turned to poker in the 1980s, and began a career that would go on to cover more than three decades. He cashed in some of the most difficult tournaments, making a final table appearance in 2003 at the WPT Championship Event and reaching money in eight WSOP events. He also made his way to final tables on both the Professional Poker Tour and the Ultimate Poker Challenge, earning a total of $527,364 in live action over the course of his career.
Magriel became known for his signature “quack quack” when making a bet at the tables. He would shout it out when betting an amount beginning with 22, such as 2200 or 22,000. It was derived from his nickname in backgammon, X-22. In that board game, a pair of 2s is known as “double ducks,” and in poker simply as “ducks.” Poker pro Erik Siedel was the first to announce his death to the poker world, tweeting, “Woke up to the sad news that backgammon legend Paul Magriel (X-22) has passed away. He changed the game with his book, was a generous champ and enthusiastic teacher. He changed my life and the lives of many others.”