Paul Magriel

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Paul Magriel
Nickname(s)X-22; Button
BornPaul David Magriel, Jr.
(1946-07-01)July 1, 1946
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
DiedMarch 5, 2018(2018-03-05) (aged 71)
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
World Series of Poker
Money finish(es)8
Highest ITM
Main Event finish
683, 2010
World Poker Tour
Final table(s)1
Money finish(es)2

Paul David Magriel Jr. (pronounced Ma-grill) (July 1, 1946 – March 5, 2018) was an American professional backgammon player, poker player, and author based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Magriel became New York State Junior Chess Champion (January 1967) at the age of 20, while a student at New York University.


Known as X-22 on the backgammon circuit,[1] Magriel arguably won more major backgammon tournaments than any other player in the world.[2] He was widely considered the world's premier backgammon teacher, an original and clear-thinking theorist and one of its best players.[3]

The sobriquet X-22 originates from Magriel's simulation of a real backgammon tournament (compare simultaneous exhibition in chess) with 64 boards, designated X-1 through X-64, in which the player designated "X-22" has eventually won.[4]

Magriel first came to prominence on the backgammon circuit when he won the World Backgammon Championship in 1978.[5] From 1977 to 1980, he wrote weekly backgammon columns for The New York Times.[3]

Paul and Renée Magriel (his first wife, later Roberts) wrote two books, Backgammon,[6] widely considered to be the bible of the game,[7][8][9] and an abridgement for beginning players, An Introduction to Backgammon: A Step-by-Step Guide.[10]

Magriel was featured in the commentary in the televised backgammon series, High Stakes Backgammon, produced from the 2005 World Backgammon Championships held in Monte Carlo. It was the pilot series that led to the World Series of Backgammon and showcased Magriel's oratory skills.


Magriel had several notable finishes in poker tournaments from the mid-1990s in Europe, playing in London, Paris and Vienna in Omaha, hold'em and seven-card stud events. He won the €2,000 no limit hold'em event at the Aviation Club de France in September 2002, defeating a field including Pascal "Triple P" Perrault, Patrick Bruel and Simon "Aces" Trumper on the way to the €48,600 first prize.

In March 2003, he made his first World Poker Tour (WPT) final table, finishing 4th in the $5,000 no limit hold'em World Poker Challenge event in Reno.

Magriel finished in the money eight times at the World Series of Poker (WSOP), which includes one cash in the Main Event in 2010, he has also made the final table on the Professional Poker Tour and Ultimate Poker Challenge.

Magriel created the "M Principle" (better known since as the M-ratio) - a theory elaborated on at great length in the book Harrington on Hold'em Volume II by former WSOP Champion "Action" Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie. The theory explains at which stages of tournaments expected value exists to make moves on other players, depending on the ratio between chip stack sizes and antes.

While playing poker, Magriel often shouted "Quack quack!"[7] while making a bet, usually to declare a bet which had a numerical value beginning in 22 (e.g.: 2200, 22000.) This is a reference to his nickname, X-22, since a pair of 2's are known in backgammon as "double ducks" and poker as ducks.

His total live poker tournament winnings exceed $520,000.[11]

Family and miscellaneous[edit]

Magriel was the son of Paul David Magriel, Sr. (1906–1990), an art collector and author, and Christine Fairchild Magriel, an architect. His younger half-brother is the sarangi player and teacher Nicolas Magriel. He has one son, Louis Fairchild Magriel (Louis being the name of all four grandfathers) by his third ex-wife, French poker player Martine Oulés[12]

After receiving perfect College Board scores, he became, while an undergraduate, a fellow of the Courant Institute at New York University and later a National Science Foundation fellow at Princeton University with a primary interest in probability.

Magriel taught mathematics at the Newark College of Engineering (now New Jersey Institute of Technology) between 1969 and 1973.[13]


  1. ^ Chris Bray (August 12, 2000). "Backgammon: Triumphing over X-22". The Independent. Mr. Backgammon himself, Paul Magriel, known universally as X-22.
  2. ^ "The Giants of Backgammon, a Biannual Survey". There is no Internationally recognized system by which rankings are determined. However, Yamin A. Yamin from Illinois has created a system by which the tournament directors around the world calculate the best players and establish their ranking. {{cite web}}: External link in |quote= (help)
  3. ^ a b Chuck Bower. "History of Backgammon, Part I: A Brief History of Backgammon 1920-1990". (originally appeared in the August 1999 issue of GammOnLine). The US had Paul Magriel, probably the most publicized pure backgammon player in history." "Magriel's 1976 publication of Backgammon began a trend of truly challenging advanced texts." "In 1977 The New York Times hired Magriel to write a weekly column which eventually produced on the order of 100 articles." "Magriel was featured in articles of the top magazines, the most noteworthy story being in the June 4, 1979 issue of Sports Illustrated. {{cite web}}: External link in |work= (help)
  4. ^ "Blindfold Backgammon". The New Yorker. 1977. once I had a private tournament with sixty-four imaginary entrants, whom I designated X-l, X-2, and so forth, through X-64. In the final, X-22 was pitted against X-34, and X-22 won.
  5. ^ Michael Crane (July 25, 2000). "MindZine Backgammon News". Mind Sports Worldwide, Archived from the original on September 7, 2006. Paul Magriel won the 'World Championship' in 1978 in the Bahamas.
  6. ^ Backgammon. 1976 edition: Chicago: Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Company. ISBN 0-8129-0615-2. Backgammon. 2004 edition by Paul David Magriel Jr. and Renée Magriel Roberts. Harwich Port: Clock & Rose Press. ISBN 1-59386-027-7, ISBN 978-1-59386-027-1.
  7. ^ a b "Paul Magriel (X-22), QUACK-QUACK". The (unofficial) World Poker Tour Fan Site. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Paul is one of the most celebrated backgammon players of all time, writing a book that many consider to be the bible of backgammon.
  8. ^ Tom Keith; et al. "Reviews of the 2004 edition of Magriel's Backgammon". This is a reprint of Backgammon by Paul Magriel (1976). The text is identical to the original except for the addition of a 10-page foreword by Renée Magriel Roberts. The first edition of the book acknowledged Renée Magriel as a co-author in the front pages. Later editions, beginning in 2004, properly list Renée Magriel Roberts as a coauthor ISBN 1-59386-023-4. The book has been translated into German ISBN 1-59386-049-8, with the addition of a new Snowie roll-outs section and into Spanish ISBN 1-59386-049-8 , which also has the new roll-outs section
  9. ^ "Backgammon by Paul Magriel". Backgammon Directory. Archived from the original on September 5, 2008. Although written back in 1976, Backgammon by Paul Magriel is the most famous of backgammon books and is often referred to as "The Bible of Backgammon".
  10. ^ An Introduction to Backgammon: A Step-by-Step Guide. An abridged version of the 1976 edition of Backgammon. Chicago: Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Company, Inc. 1978. ISBN 0-8129-0735-3.
  11. ^ "Paul Magriel's profile on The Hendon Mob". The Hendon Mob Poker Database. Retrieved March 26, 2024.
  12. ^ Roberts, Sam (March 8, 2018). "Paul Magriel, Who Was Called the Best in Backgammon, Dies at 71". The New York Times.
  13. ^ See Newark College of Engineering. (1969). Catalog of Undergraduate Day and Evening Programs: 1969-1970. Newark, NJ: The Board of Trustees of Schools for Industrial Education; Newark College of Engineering. (1970). Catalog of Undergraduate Day and Evening Programs: 1970-1971 Academic Year. Newark, NJ: The Board of Trustees of Schools for Industrial Education; Newark College of Engineering. (1971). Catalog of Undergraduate Day and Evening Programs: 1971-1972 Academic Year. Newark, NJ: The Board of Trustees of Schools for Industrial Education; Newark College of Engineering. (1972). Catalog of Undergraduate Day and Evening Programs: 1972-1973 Academic Year. Newark, NJ: The Board of Trustees of Schools for Industrial Education. .

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