Perry Friedman, easily one of the most popular poker players of this century, died Sunday at age 55 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Friedman was one of the founding members of the Tiltboys poker group and a math and computer genius. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Stanford University, where he met Tiltboy colleagues Rafe Furst and Phil Gordon, among others.
Friedman had a great career at tech giant Oracle, but left the company to become the first employee at online poker startup Full Tilt Poker, specifically its software development arm Tiltware LLC. Both Gordon and Furst joined him and all three became partners in the company. However, he was not involved in the financial machinations that ultimately led to the company's demise and civil lawsuits against several Full Tilt executives. In fact, he, Gordon and Furst fought against the shady practices (although Furst was targeted by the Justice Department as a board member).
the life at the table, a guy everyone always liked to see
The Tiltboys, and in particular Friedman, Gordon and Furst, have made a name for themselves in the poker world both through their success at the table and their fun-loving nature. Friedman, in particular, was known as the life of the table, a guy everyone always liked to see, even if they knew he would probably take their chips.
Friedman's poker achievements included a WSOP bracelet in 2002, $1.1 million in live tournament winnings, and a two-decade WSOP winning streak from 2002 to 2023.
In a tweet, said Phil Hellmuth“Perry was a great guy in every way, always smiling, joking and infecting others with his infectious laugh.” He brought things like “lighted hats,” tuxedos and “sock puppets” to the table. He would release the sock puppet in the middle of his hand against you!”
Perry Friedman even convinced Hellmuth that rock, paper and scissors were skillful.
A good friend Cyan Banister wrote: “My dear friend Perry Friedman passed away last night and he was known for writing 'Obituperrys', which were often 'too soon', and humorous interpretations of the deceased.” I'll try one for to find him that fits who he was, but now I just say: Perry, it's your decision. Dying as an excuse not to take the next step? Classic.”
And with that, Banister posted a screenshot of their game “Words With Friends,” which will forever remain unfinished.
Poker pro Allen Kessler shared a message from Perry Friedman's father, a high school teacher. Among the effusive praise and general awe he felt for his son was this: “As a high school teacher, I attended more than 30 graduation ceremonies. I have never heard a more rousing cheer before or after a farewell speech than Perry’s.”
He later added: “Those who knew him immediately recognized that he was the funniest, kindest and most loving person they had ever met.”
A little personal note: When Full Tilt Poker launched, I was a total poker newbie and was excited about the chance to play at the same tables as famous pros. As it turned out, Perry Friedman was the first professional I ever sat with. We chatted a bit in a text box and he was very friendly – and that was just at a play money table!
Years later I wrote an article – I don't remember what it was about and can't find it – in which I told this little anecdote, a jump in time that no one but me would ever remember. Perry not only read it, but also sent me a message thanking me for the kind words. He was that kind of guy.
I, along with everyone at Poker News Daily, would like to extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Perry Friedman.
Photo credit: Facebook / Perry Friedman