PokerStars Festival Manila: Remembering Noli Francisco

While Day 1C of this PokerStars Festival Manila Main Event reaches the halfway mark here in the heart of the Philippines, let's take a moment to honour number one on the country's all-time money list, Manuel 'Noli' Francisco.

Sadly Francisco passed away earlier this year at age 75 but his legacy lives on as poker in the Philippines continues to grow from strength to strength.

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Francisco was born right here in Manila and was technically a recreational player despite his striking success at the poker table. A man of many careers, along with winning at poker for over 25 years, Francisco also worked as an importer, a real estate entrepreneur and an architect.

Francisco's $1,348,630 in live scores sees him sitting comfortably as the most successful player from his homeland, and with earnings at almost triple that of second spot (Oin Sinn with $530,651), his country's crown looks safe for a long time to come.

It was 1982 when Francisco scored his first recorded cash. He picked up $4,920 for 7th place in a World Series of Poker side event before going on to build a stellar résumé. The pinnacle of which came when he won a World Poker Tour title for $470,000 in 2003, but Francisco also has two Hall of Fame Poker Classic championships to his name, and 14 World Series of Poker cashes.

In 1993 Francisco picked up $86,500 when he finished runner-up to a 29 year-old Phil Hellmuth in the World Series of Poker $2,500 No Limit Hold'em event.

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Francisco's fellow Filipinos may have a lot of work ahead of them to surpass him on the all-time money list, and while they may not be able to do it this week, 44 of them have pulled up seats today with the hopes of starting or continuing a stellar résumé of their own.

We haven't spotted many notables among the bunch yet, but any one of them could make a name for themselves by clinching the Main Event title here at PokerStars Festival Manila. We'll be keeping an eye out to see how the Filipino contingent fares as Day 1C progresses.

Brad Kain
@PokerStars in PokerStars Festival