The poker world has lost one of the WSOP Main Event champions, Noel Furlong. Aged 83, Furlong passed away on Sunday peacefully at his home due to natural causes. Nicknamed ‘Noel’ because he was born on Christmas Day in 1937, Furlong was a part-time poker player and split his time between the poker tables and a successful carpet manufacturing business based in Kildare, Ireland. Furlong also established himself in the horse racing industry and was an avid horse trainer.
Known to his poker fans as the 1999 WSOP Main Event champion, Furlong started playing poker in 1984 and went to win the Irish Poken Open in 1987, and again in 1989. The two-time Irish Poker Open champ then finished sixth in the 1989 WSOP Main Event for $52,850 on his first trip to the WOSP. Ten years later, he once again found himself at the WSOP Main Event Final Table and this time topped the likes of Alan Goehring (second), Padraig Parkinson (third), eight-time WSOP bracelet winner Erik Seidel (fourth), and four-time WSOP bracelet winner, and 1996 Main Event champion Huck Seed (sixth) to win the bracelet and the top prize worth $1 million – his career-best live score.
Furlong is the second-oldest Main Event winner behind Johnny Moss. He amassed $1,145,806 in live tournament earnings, according to the Hendon Mob Poker Database, the majority of it coming from his WSOP Main Event finishes. The WSOP released a statement to PokerNews on his passing, stating that Furlong “helped put the ‘world’ in the history of the World Series of Poker.” and that he was a “worthy champion to be remembered, a businessman & gentleman who was also a world-class player.”
Hellmuth also shared a story of how fearless and confident Furlong was as a player. He further added, “As successful as Noel was in the poker world, he was even more successful off 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.”