Remembering ‘Tiltboy’ Perry Friedman

The former World Series of Poker bracelet winner and Full Tilt Poker ‘Tiltboy’ Perry Friedman has passed away after a brave battle against pancreatic cancer aged just 55. The popular poker player and personality passed away on Sunday and has been mourned by the entire poker world as a legend is lost to the great game.

Full Tilt and Friedman

The words Full Tilt Poker have become synonymous in recent years with figures of controversy such as Chris Ferguson or Howard Lederer. One player who was never stained by wrongdoing and who flouts that suspicion is Perry Friedman, who was as straight and down the line as anyone in the industry could be and was much loved by his fellow professionals.

The first hire of the Full Tilt Poker era in 2003, Perry Friedman was as immensely popular as an employee as he was a player. Back in the early days, Friedman was a colorful character in every sense of the word. As the Poker Boom blew up the game, he was front and center, usually wearing a pair of comedy glasses. Chris Hanel told of his own baptism in the world of Tiltware and Friedman’s part in it.

Born in 1968 in New York’s Brooklyn borough, Friedman was the life and soul of the party, and extended that ‘disco ball’ to the poker table itself, chatty and effervescent at the felt. Extremely close to fellow ‘Tiltboys’ Phil Gordon and Dave Lambert, Friedman, a graduate of Stanford University, was much beloved in the game and his Bachelor of Science in Mathematical and Computational Science helped him develop Tiltware 13 years after graduation.

Perry Friedman could start the ball rolling on unique and novel ideas, such as his pitch for a popular but ‘invisible’ Twitter account.

Perry Could Pick’em

The former founder of Pick’em Sports – which he then sold – Perry Friedman won over $1.1 million in live poker tournaments, with by far his highest-profile victory coming when he won a WSOP bracelet in 2002. That was in the third event of the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, where he won the $1,500-entry Limit Omaha Hi-Lo event for $176,860 and the gold wristwear.

Three years later, Friedman won the biggest cash of his career, coming third in the $2,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em event, winning $196,455. The man who won the bracelet in that event? None other than ten-time winner and Poker Hall of Famer, Erik Seidel.

Friedman’s success at the poker felt wasn’t limited to the World Series of Poker, though his bracelet win in 2002 remained the sole ranking victory of this career. Of his 55 cashes in ranking events, all but six of them came at the WSOP on American soil, with only two cashes coming outside the United States, in the Caribbean Poker Classic in 2002 and in Australia at the Aussie Millions in 2008. His most recent big recent came in 2017 when he came third – again – this time in the $10,000-entry Seven Card Stud Championship. Friedman’s result was largely overlooked, for the simple reason that Chris Ferguson came second to Mike Wattel and ‘Jesus’ losing out on the bracelet by one place was simply bigger news.

The Death of a Tiltboy

The passing of a poker legend is always a sad thing, but Friedman’s passing feels very raw. As the announcement of his death from pancreatic cancer was shared on X, formerly known as Twitter, by Friedman’s brother Rob, the poker world expressed shock, grief and sympathy in equal measure.

Friedman was well-known as a ‘Tiltboy’ and having turned from Stanford grad to Vegas regulars with his friends from University, Friedman really did ‘live the dream’ in the world of poker, something Poker Brat Phil Hellmuth was all too keen to reference as the 17-time WSOP bracelet winner paid tribute to his fellow professional who had a similar love of the World Series.

Friedman was part of a culture movement, not only within the game of poker, with the ‘boom’ lived to excess and at times debauchery by the legendary ‘Tiltboy’. It is easy to map Friedman’s life with a deeper shift in the ambitions of those in America who have natural talent in mathematics and computing. Where once the path to financial accountancy or computing might have been the one trodden by those like Friedman, his own determination to carve a different route through life undoubtedly led to more choosing to follow him.

Living his life at the forefront of a brave new age in a game that has developed akin to having been fast-forwarded through the past two decades, Friedman’s passing should not go unnoticed.

Daniel Negreanu called Perry Friedman ‘a joy to play with and a joy to know’. All those who knew him will be sad today at his tragic passing.

This article originally appeared on PokerStake.com

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