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1999 WSOP Main Event Champ Noel Furlong Passes Away at Age 83

Noel Furlong

The poker world is less one former World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event champion as Irishman Noel Furlong passed away at the age of 83 on Sunday. It was reported by The Irish Times that he died “peacefully at home.”

Furlong was actually born on Christmas Day in 1937 as J.J., but soon was given the nickname “Noel.”

Known to poker fans as the winner of the 1999 WSOP Main Event and a two-time Irish Poker Open champ (1987 & 1989), Furlong was a prominent Kildare-based businessman who founded the successful business Furlong Flooring, a leading manufacturer of carpets and other flooring products. He also made a name for himself in the horse racing industry.

“Mr. Furlong helped put the 'World' in the history of the World Series of Poker," the WSOP told PokerNews in regards to his passing. "He is a worthy champion to be remembered, a businessman and gentleman who was also a world-class player.”

Aged 62 at the time of his big WSOP win, Furlong is the second-oldest Main Event winner behind Johnny Moss.

Noel Furlong
Noel Furlong at 2010 WSOPE

According to The Hendon Mob, Furlong amassed $1,145,806 in live tournament earnings with $1 million of that coming from his WSOP win. The 1999 WSOP Main Event attracted 393 runners and to this day has one of the toughest final tables in history including Alan Goehring (2nd), Erik Seidel (4th), Chris Bigler (5th), and Huck Seed (6th), who had won the tournament three years earlier. There were also two other Irishmen at the table in Padraig Parkinson (3rd) and George McKeever (7th).

Hellmuth Remembers Fellow Champ

Furlong finished sixth in the 1989 WSOP Main Event for $52,850 on his first trip to the WOSP. Hellmuth shared the following story about Furlong with PokerNews:

The Irishman Noel Furlong was a world champion of poker, and in our poker world, that means something! Everyone wants to win the coveted WSOP Main Event. Only one person a year wins it, one, but even fewer have done it as an amateur player! Noel was at the WSOP Main Event final table with me and Johnny Chan in 1989. He was fearless, and bluffed me in a huge pot: I remember this well, as it was on the front page of the Las Vegas Review Journal on May 17, 1989, with pictures. Noel had {9-Hearts}{9-Clubs} and I had {k-Clubs}{q-Hearts} on a {q-Clubs}{7-Clubs}{4-Hearts}{2-Clubs} board: I had top pair and a king-high flush draw, he had nines with a nine-high flush draw. I believe he check-raised me, and I folded: well done Noel! I still have the newspaper clipping.

In the 1999 WSOP Main Event, I was watching closely as my best friend at the time, Huck Seed, was making an epic run. The great Erik Seidel was also at that WSOP Main Event final table as well. On Day 4, with six players remaining, I somehow still remember that Seed was sick of this pesky Irishman bombing pots (raising and reraising what seemed like every hand)! We have all been there, frustrated by someone running us all over!

So Seed made a stand when he moved all in (four-bet, I believe) with {j-Diamonds}{8-Diamonds} for a mountain of chips (500,000)! But Noel sensed his opportunity and pounced! He SNAP called 500,000 with {a-Hearts}{3-Hearts}! I couldn’t believe it! {a-}{3-}?!? All those chips with, and SNAP call, with {a-}{3-}?!? Somehow, someway, Noel made an incredible call. I thought that Seed would outdraw him for sure. But, the flop was {a-}{q-}{3-}, turn like a {6-}. In a flash, Noel had dispatched one of the best players in the world in sixth place: the great Huck Seed! Noel went on to win the 1999 WSOP Main.

As successful as Noel was in the poker world, he was even more successful off of the table as he crushed it in the business world! We heard rumors of one of the most successful businessmen in Ireland! But that is a tale for someone else to tell. He never bragged to us about his business prowess: I mean, you would never know about those massive business successes from the humble, well-mannered businessman, who always seemed to handle himself well, with class, and always with a smile: RIP Noel Furlong.

Furlong also 2003 won a €220 buy-in side even at the Irish Winter Tournament in Dublin as well as a €330 NLH Event at the 2002 Irish Poker Open for $14,841.

More recently, Furlong finished 32nd in the 2011 PaddyPower Irish Poker Open Main Event for $13,580, his last career cash. Before that, he won the €330 Charity Event at the 2006 Boylepoker Irish Poker Tour Grand Final for $12,859. He was also spotted playing in the 2010 WSOP Europe Main Event, though he did not cash.

For years, Furlong was Ireland’s leading poker player, at least in terms of money. He sat atop the country’s all-time money list until fellow countryman Andy Black finished fifth in the 2005 WSOP Main Event. At the time of his passing, Furlong sits 14th on Ireland's all-time money list.

A private funeral will take place later this week in Monkstown, Dublin.

Noel Furlong
Noel Furlong after his victory. (Image: WSOP)

*Lead image Wikipedia.

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