Wizard
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bobbartop
March 17th, 2018 at 2:48:56 PM permalink


While I was recently in Europe, I learned of the death of Paul Magriel on March 5.

The Wikipedia link I just left tells his life story. About ten years ago I was on a big backgammon kick and read Magriel's book, titled simply Backgammon, cover to cover. I think there is little debate in saying that Magiel's book is the bible of backgammon. A big heavy book that explains clearly and easily the fundamentals of good strategy. In addition, Paul was a very highly skilled expert in chess and poker.

I personally got to know Paul in late 2014. I was surprised to hear he was a regular in the Palace Station poker room. With his skill at the game, and stories of gambling with Saudi royalty on the game, I figured he was probably lived on a private yacht anchored in Monaco. Boy was I wrong. I hope I won't be accused of besmirching the reputation of the dead, but let me tell what I can of my relationship with Paul the last three and a half years of his life.

Through a mutual friend in October of that year, I asked to meet Paul for a backgammon lesson. Paul was happy to accept and the lesson was very friendly. I don't recall what Paul charged, if anything, but it wasn't much. I think I had to insist on paying him more than he asked. From there, a small friendship bloomed. We had several backgammon sessions and dinners the next couple of years. Paul was an extremely friendly and kind person and a pleasure to spend time with.

However, I suspected he was not nearly as sharp as he used to be. He seemed to be living day to day and had little money to his name. I sometimes got asked to invest in a slice of potential winnings of poker tournaments he was in, which I always said "yes" to. He never won a penny, but tournaments are always a feast or famine life, even for the best of players.

As time passed, Paul's appearance fell quickly. Most people would have taken him as an old homeless man if they saw him. I don't want to get more detailed than that out of respect to him, but it isn't a nice story how he slid down in terms of health and appearance.

It was sad to see him fall into what I would call both mental and physical illness. As far as I know, he didn't have any children to be his advocate. However, as I understandd it, he had a lot of friends and I think those friendships gave him joy in his later years.

In short, I would say Paul was one of the many mad geniuses that I seem to attract into my life.

To be honest, I have been getting more forgetful lately and I am seriously worried I may become him in twenty years. Very scary to think about.

Rest in peace Paul. If there is an afterlife, and we end up in the same place, I hope to resume those backgammon lessons.
Last edited by: Wizard on Mar 17, 2018
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." -- Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
onenickelmiracle
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March 17th, 2018 at 3:06:13 PM permalink
He had some mannerisms I noticed seeing him on wsop coverage, licking his lips disgustingly(which I figured to be intentional). I'm sure him shoving his tongue out threw people off, even if they knew it was meant to do so.
Last edited by: onenickelmiracle on Mar 17, 2018
I am a robot.
odiousgambit
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March 17th, 2018 at 3:28:33 PM permalink
Quote: onenickelmiracle

He had some mannerisms I noticed seeing him on wsop coverage, licking his lips disgustingly(which I figured to be intentional). I'm sure him shoving his tongue there's a lot off even if they knew it was meant to do so.



ummm, reread what your wrote and post it again. Needs some work.
the next time Dame Fortune toys with your heart, your soul and your wallet, raise your glass and praise her thus: “Thanks for nothing, you cold-hearted, evil, damnable, nefarious, low-life, malicious monster from Hell!”   She is, after all, stone deaf. ... Arnold Snyder
beachbumbabs
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March 17th, 2018 at 3:49:12 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard



While I was recently in Europe, I learned of the death of Paul Magriel on March 5.

The Wikipedia link I just left tells his life story. About ten years ago I was on a big backgammon kick and read Magriel's book, titled simply Backgammon, cover to cover. I think there is little debate in saying that Magiel's book is the bible of backgammon. A big heavy book that explains clearly and easily the fundamentals of good strategy. In addition, Paul was a very highly skilled expert in chess and poker.

I personally got to know Paul in late 2014. I was surprised to hear he was a regular in the Palace Station poker room. With his skill at the game, and stories of gambling with Saudi royalty on the game, I figured he was probably lived on a private yacht anchored in Monaco. Boy was I wrong. I hope I won't be accused of besmirching the reputation of the dead, but let me tell what I can of my relationship with Paul the last three and a half years of his life.

Through a mutual friend in October of that year, I asked to meet Paul for a backgammon lesson. Paul was happy to accept and the lesson was very friendly. I don't recall what Paul charged, if anything, but it wasn't much. I think I had to insist on paying him more than he asked. From there a small friendly bloomed. We had several backgammon sessions and dinners the next couple of years. Paul was an extremely friendly and kind person and a pleasure to spend time with.

However, I suspected he was not nearly as sharp as he used to be. He seemed to be living day to day and had little money to his name. I sometimes got asked to invest in a slice of potential winnings of poker tournaments he was in, which I always said "yes" to. He never won a penny, but tournaments are always a feast or famine life, even for the best of players.

As time passed, Paul's appearance fell quickly. Most people would have taken him as an old homeless man if they saw him. I don't want to get more detailed than that out of respect to him, but it isn't a nice story how he slid down in terms of health and appearance.

It was sad to see him fall into what I would call both mental and physical illness. As far as I know, he didn't have any children to be his advocate. However, as I understandd it, he had a lot of friends and I think those friendships gave him joy in his later years.

In short, I would say Paul was one of the many mad geniuses that I seem to attract into my life.

To be honest, I have been getting more forgetful lately and I am seriously worried I may become him in twenty years. Very scary to think about.

Rest in peace Paul. If there is an afterlife, and we end up in the same place, I hope to resume those backgammon lessons.



My condolences to you on the loss of a close and respected friend.

When I played you in backgammon in early 2014, I didn't think you needed any lessons. It was an expensive night for me, as I recall...but there's nothing like getting to know the guy who wrote the book. :)

It's an enormous job to be your parent's advocate, as I'm finding out the hard way these past 2 months. If he did have children, I wouldn't be surprised if it was beyond their capability. It's a gradual, wearying journey trying to help them maintain their quality of life and self respect as their bodies and minds fail.

It does sound like he had a unique and varied life, with many opportunities and friends, so I hope his is a life to be celebrated in your memory.
If the House lost every hand, they wouldn't deal the game.
Keyser
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March 17th, 2018 at 6:09:45 PM permalink
I met with Paul back in 2008.

His backgammon knowledge was incredible.

RIP
Wizard
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March 17th, 2018 at 6:20:21 PM permalink
Quote: onenickelmiracle

He had some mannerisms I noticed seeing him on wsop coverage, licking his lips disgustingly(which I figured to be intentional). I'm sure him shoving his tongue out threw people off, even if they knew it was meant to do so.



He had lots of nervous ticks. After some time instead of paying directly for lessons we played several games for low stakes -- both of us knowing he would kill me and it was a fun alternative way to pay for the lesson. However, he had an obvious tell when I made a bad move. Hard to explain but he reacted as if he had just seen a turd in the punch bowl he drank from.
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." -- Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
Keyser
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March 17th, 2018 at 6:24:15 PM permalink
When I first met him at dinner he made me a little nervous because he'd periodically hit himself in a strange way.
Wizard
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March 17th, 2018 at 6:26:35 PM permalink
Quote: beachbumbabs

My condolences to you on the loss of a close and respected friend.

When I played you in backgammon in early 2014, I didn't think you needed any lessons. It was an expensive night for me, as I recall...but there's nothing like getting to know the guy who wrote the book. :)

It's an enormous job to be your parent's advocate, as I'm finding out the hard way these past 2 months. If he did have children, I wouldn't be surprised if it was beyond their capability. It's a gradual, wearying journey trying to help them maintain their quality of life and self respect as their bodies and minds fail.

It does sound like he had a unique and varied life, with many opportunities and friends, so I hope his is a life to be celebrated in your memory.



Thanks for your kind words.

I'm quite sure Paul didn't have kids or if he did they were estranged. A few times I offered to be his "in case of emergency" contact but he poo-poo'd me, as if he was fine.

Paul definitely had an interesting life in his prime. He was a private tutor to the Saudi elite and I think was quite an AP in his younger days.

The ravages of time can be brutal, as you know. I too know what it is like to see a loved one go so far downhill you wish them a good death.

Yep, pretty depressing. The best you can hope for is to be fairly healthy in mind and body shortly before dying peacefully in your sleep after a full life.
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." -- Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
FleaStiff
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March 17th, 2018 at 6:40:00 PM permalink
Quote: onenickelmiracle

He had some mannerisms I noticed seeing him on wsop coverage, licking his lips disgustingly(which I figured to be intentional). I'm sure him shoving his tongue out threw people off, even if they knew it was meant to do so.

Cholinergic side effects of medications or some medical conditions. Tardive dyskinesia??
billryan
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March 17th, 2018 at 7:38:57 PM permalink
My condolences on losing your friend. I know the name but not much more about him. I'm told he was one of the greats.
The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction is supposed to make sense.
onenickelmiracle
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March 17th, 2018 at 9:39:17 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

He had lots of nervous ticks. After some time instead of paying directly for lessons we played several games for low stakes -- both of us knowing he would kill me and it was a fun alternative way to pay for the lesson. However, he had an obvious tell when I made a bad move. Hard to explain but he reacted as if he had just seen a turd in the punch bowl he drank from.

well it appears I was wrong to assume that they were intentional
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FleaStiff
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March 18th, 2018 at 5:49:58 AM permalink
Quote: onenickelmiracle

well it appears I was wrong to assume that they were intentional

Well, you had no way of peering into his basal ganglia to determine the oxidative imbalance involved inside his brain and I doubt you had any knowledge of his history with neuroleptic or antipsychotic drugs. Just about the only thing that could have happened would be the Wizard bringing along some sardines or eels as snacks during the backgammon games and that would be an unusual snack selection.
rsactuary
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March 18th, 2018 at 9:40:48 AM permalink
May he rest in peace.

He has helped my in my tournament poker playing, as he developed the concept of M (your chip stack divided by the blinds and antes at the start of a hand). Gives you an estimate of how many orbits you have left and adjusting your play appropriately to that.
Johnzimbo
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March 18th, 2018 at 11:55:07 AM permalink
Thought Dan Harrington developed the concept of M but I could be wrong.

I read that years ago Magriel would beat a lot of good players even when he was blindfolded. He could keep a mental picture of the board throughout the game, that is pretty amazing.
rsactuary
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March 18th, 2018 at 12:18:43 PM permalink
Quote: Johnzimbo

Thought Dan Harrington developed the concept of M but I could be wrong.

I read that years ago Magriel would beat a lot of good players even when he was blindfolded. He could keep a mental picture of the board throughout the game, that is pretty amazing.



i first read about it in Harrington's books, but the M stands for Magriel, and he developed it.. Harrington expanded the concepts.
Last edited by: rsactuary on Mar 18, 2018
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