Phil Hellmuth Honors WSOP Main Event Winner Noel Furlong

Editor’s note – 1999 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Noel Furlong passed away on Sunday at his home in Ireland at age 83. The two-time Irish Poker Open champion was a successful businessman as well as a poker player. Phil Hellmuth looked back on Furlong this week. 

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, only one, but even fewer have done it as an amateur player.

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Remembering a massive poker bluff

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 99 and I had KQ on a Q742 board.

I had top pair and a King-high flush draw and 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.

Huge call in the Main Event

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 re-raising 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 J8 for a mountain of chips (500,000).

But Noel sensed his opportunity and pounced. He snap-called 500,000 with A3. I couldn’t believe it! A-3?!? All those chips with A3 and a SNAP call?!?

Somehow, some way, Noel made an incredible call. I thought that Seed would outdraw him for sure. But, the flop was A-Q-3, with the 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 Event.

Beyond poker

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 that he was one of the most successful businessmen in Ireland. But that’s 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 this humble, well-mannered businessman.

Noel always seemed to handle himself well, with class, and always with a smile. Rest in peace Noel Furlong.