Smiling Assassin, nickname in poker circle
Noli Francisco
  • 75 years old
  • Date of birth: Nov 13, 1941
  • Date of passing: Feb 23, 2017
Let the memory of Noli be with us forever

This website is being created in memory of Noli. It goes without saying that Noli was a unique character. Unbridled by convention, humbly blazing his own trail.  A man who thought differently - and with great success. Many talents, a self made man who was true to himself and to his family and friends.  An icon. 

How to memorialize such a man and life? We would like to use this website as a way to collect everyone's memories, and we could use your help to put it all together. A funny story, photos or video if you have them, or anything about Noli that touched or was important to you. Please browse, reflect, and share!

With much love always...

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Rafael Francisco on 20th March 2017

"It was great to know Uncle Noli and his family,he always spoiled me (Trini,Ronnie, Maxine and my dad Rafael Sr.)He was very cool dude that I always looked up to when I was a kid...He sure had some good looking children..."

This tribute was added by Martello Berchenko on 18th March 2017

"Noli’s passing has been very traumatic for me. I’ve tried writing earlier but the words were just blocked.

He played poker for the fun. Noli would offer a split when he really won the hand. If someone was calling him on a big bet, he’d offer the split – and they would take him up on it of course!!

I regret I did not get closer to the whole family. Noli had the most perfect kids I can imagine. That’s how Noli was to me. He was just perfect.

He gave me hope when I was hopeless. He inspired me when I was uninspired. Love when I couldn’t feel, when I was numb. He was just very, very special. That’s all I can say. It’s a terrible loss for me. I’m glad he had a lot of good years.

Noli was a friend for life. I am so sorry…."

This tribute was added by vicky quisumbing on 12th March 2017

"Vicky Quisumbing i love you Manong. I know you are in heaven with GOD and so are happy. I will miss you though and I wish you could have  known the one true GOD WHO became human as JESUS CHRIST, prayed to HIM so HE convicts you to be able to obey the 2 Greatest Commandments HE wants us to obey always on our lives, to love GOD, love your neighbor as you love yourself. and in dping so, trigger the endorphins that could have helped you with your diabetes, where you stay functional physically and spiritually like I pray everyday to be able to do. We are the only 2 siblings in our family with diabetes that we got from our parents. I eat anything and everything and take zero medications, and for more than 25 yrs now, I have peace and serenity, and importantly, my body continues to function well. Now though, we did have our differences over business and money, but i am grateful that we have gotten over them and have gotten somewhat close. My pain comes from wishing you could have had the same joy I have in having this relationship with the ONE true GOD WHO became human as JESUS in the ONE true religion of Christianity (not Judeo-Christianity, not Judeo-Islam, not 600,000 gods of Hinduism, not the many indigenous gods of indigenous peoples all over the world, etc etc ) while here on earth. Still heaven with GOD is where all of us are headed, and I know that that is where you are. There is no eternal hell, because GOD is truly a loving GOD. I love you Manong. .  :-) :-( :-). Now you do not have to be afraid about your diabetes..GOD is love.  GOD is WHO we perceive as the good-feelings-of-love-in-our-hearts-created-by-good-thoughts-in-our-minds,-such-good-feelings-about-good-thoughts-of-which-are-enabled-by-only-good-none-bad-beliefs-about-the-ONE true-GOD-WHO-became-human-as JESUS CHRIST-in-the ONE -true-and-good-religion-of-CHRISTIANITY.  i cry when I think about you who I will miss, and then I smile, when I think about you being happy and in heaven with GOD now. Say hello and give my love  to Papang, Mamang, M. Jun, M. emong and all the other relative
s.  They all had different beliefs, but I know that you are all together with GOD in heaven. I love you Manong...:-)  :-(  :-)"

This tribute was added by Kam Saadat on 7th March 2017

"I wasn't expecting Noli to pass like this. It is truly overwhelming for me. I just saw him in the hospital about 8 or 9 hours beforehand. He didn't look like he was going to leave us. "Kam, I'm getting out of here" Noli said. "Come see me Friday, we'll have sushi." I was Noli's financial planner and we often met out for lunch to have sushi together. We lost a very great individual. A true American success story. Someone who came here as an immigrant and made a huge success of himself....he will be missed."

This tribute was added by Kristina McShane on 5th March 2017

"I had many emotions once I heard the news of Uncle Noli's passing and found great comfort in the stories my friends and others have shared with me. I will say most of my friends met uncle noli in AC because he always extended an invite for me to join him at his second home :-)  He was always giving and continued to show me his love even after he and my mom seperated and remained present at important events. While we didn't get to see each other often over the last few years I always appreciated our conversations and hearing his perspective on life.

I have so many wonderful memories with him. From being little and him trying to hold me up like superman, or him taking care of me when I didn't feel well in Vegas around 9 years old, or him and my dad shopping to find me the perfect used car when I was 16. And who could forget going to the movies and eating out two of his favorite things even if he did usually fall asleep in the theatre :-)

Most importantly I am very grateful I was able to recently host him and Ming in my new home and just before that We were able to see him in West New York for some Cuban food.  Over the last few years he told me each time we spoke that he was content with the full life he lived, had no regrets and how proud of everyone he was. May he now rest and continue to look down on his loved ones. We love you!"

This tribute was added by Emmanuel Borela on 5th March 2017

"It was July 4,1986  my arrival in NJ and meeting Mnoli  who is my first boss here in the US>  He is like a family and we stayed for a year at his WNY apartment. He always make sure we are provided , well fed and safe.   Man of few words- - -

Dec 31 1986 - I told him ill be attending the New Year midnight service  at the church Up Kennedy Blvd.
I told him I will be home by 12:00 mid.
The service took much longer and I guess it was past  12;00 mid  ----
I did not bother  to call-- during that time -no cell phones yet !

Lo and behold   -- MNoli and Freddy Zura  were at the church door---- Hey Boy ( my nicknmame ) We just want to make sure you are safe and okay !!

Im totally caught in awe that  Mnoli took  this special eve of NYear to make sure   a  25year old man is home by 12:00 . on New Years eve !!  

From time to time we will be exchanging emails -
Fathers day 2014- I expressed how greatful I am that he supported me all the years as a young man .  - He replied very briefly that He is just  as lucky to have around good people  and asked me to stop by anytime for dinner !!  

5107 Blvd  East will  always be in my heart !
HOME OF MNOLI !!

Thank you  all !!"

This tribute was added by Gloria Tinapay on 4th March 2017

"Manong Noli touched many lives even outside of his family.  What started as a business arrangement that brought me and Art to America for the first time in the 80's led to an enduring relationship with him.  As our host and boss he did not hover, he was not solicitous nor was he inclined to small talk.  Somehow, homesick that I was, his laid-back ways made me feel comfortable while living with and working for him.

Manong's friendship was without effort, there was no need of proof.  He was not effusive yet he had a unique and endearing way of showing that he cared.  He made me and Art feel like family.  He was kind; he was one of a kind.

I am sorry Manong Noli is no longer with us.  I am sorry for his children's pain over his passing.  I know it will take a long time for their hearts to even become familiar of his absence but I hope they will honor their father by being happy.

Rest in peace, Manong Noli."

This tribute was added by Amanda Phillips on 4th March 2017

"Wherever my Lolo is, I think he has access to the internet and can read this on his laptop. Lolo was an amazing person. He never let anything stop him. He was the kind of person who wanted people to have fun with him. He lived in West New York just across the Hudson River from our home in Manhattan. He would call often to get together, wanting to meet out at a restaurant or have us over for dinner.  I could tell he really liked cooking for us. I loved his mongo lentil soup.  

I am going to miss a lot of things we did together.  We went out often for sushi, Peking duck, seafood pan fried noodles, or Korean barbeque.  We saw shows on Broadway, and he always wanted to go out to the movies. We played chess together and he tried to teach me cards. I am really going to miss the way he cheered for me at many of my golf tournaments. I really admired his great enthusiasm.  

I’m glad I got to see him the day before he passed away. We were sitting together in the hospital and he said to me and kept repeating “I am so proud of you Amanda.” He was planning to come to the next World Championship in Pinehurst to watch me play. It is super sad that he is gone. Golf tournaments won't be the same without you. I am going to miss you so much Lolo."

This tribute was added by dave kratka on 4th March 2017

"I feel proud to have been accepted as his friend. I have met few people in my life with his diverse qualities. I have and will continue to think of him often. The world was a better place by him being in it."

This tribute was added by Dovie Sainz on 2nd March 2017

"New York City won't be the same without you, Tito Noli. Rest in God's peace. I love you so much!"

This tribute was added by Gregory Phillips on 2nd March 2017

"Posting on behalf of Martello, Noli's poker friend of nearly 50 years.

"Noli had an amazing amount of energy and was great at having a wish and making it happen for himself. He often said he was the luckiest man alive. He certainly had a full life. Noli traveled widely and had a large, loving family.  He was lucky indeed. You meet all kinds of people in the poker world, from Saudi Princes and down, and Noli was one of the very best. I miss him dearly. We all do."

This tribute was added by Sam Pandya on 2nd March 2017

"Noli, gem of a person..always in present...talked lot about his granddaughter golf matches..will miss you Noli..."

This tribute was added by Ruth-Michael Miranda on 1st March 2017

"Tito Noli was a warm and loving uncle, whose generosity knows no bounds. I will miss how he calls and sends kind messages out of the blue just to say hello. Tito Noli will always be in my heart and I hope and pray that he is in a better place today."

This tribute was added by Divina Borga on 1st March 2017

"To a very dear big brother who is so generous and kind, i will surely miss you but i know that we will meet again for that is GOD's promise to us. Manong i will never forget how you defended me when i was still a kid by boxing the teenager who was teasing me and that kept me from telling you my enemies least you box them again but it also kept me from fearing them because i have you as my big brother, thank YOU LORD.i also remember how scared i was when you called me because i made Nomel cry and instead you gave me her toy. Gush! the feeling was from worry to wow, love you Manong and sorry Mel. However i don't remember you scolding or spanking me but you had a simple way of making us straight by just being an example and that is also what the Holy Bible tell us, to be an example to the flock ( family and friends ) for them to know our GOOD SHEPHERD JESUS CHRIST...1 Peter 5:3 even if you have to suffer...1 Peter 2:21 You also never kept record of wrong or in short you were always loving even to people who have hurt you that is why we as family stay connected because you were there for all of us same way 1 Corinthians 13:5 tell us to do from the heart in obedience or love to GOD. i will always be your youngest sister and by GOD's grace hope to follow your beautiful ways of loving us sad. i may not see you but the memories you left behind will keep you alive. May you rest in JESUS peace till we meet again. Love you Manong and to Ming, Manang Meluz and the rest of the family take care and lift all your worries to JESUS our most loving CREATOR, SAVIOR and LORD, GOD bless"

This tribute was added by Gregory Phillips on 1st March 2017

"I'm posting this on behalf of a poker friend of Noli's.

"Noli was a trailblazer. He was very well liked and well respected."

This tribute was added by Gregory Phillips on 1st March 2017

"I'm posting this on behalf of Mickey, Noli's poker friend of many many years.

"Noli was the most iconic person I ever met. He was a game changer - he changed how poker was played. I speak on behalf of everyone here. We are shocked, devastated."

This tribute was added by Gregory Phillips on 1st March 2017

"It is of course with heavy heart that I talk of the passing of my father-in-law, Noli Francisco. With Nomel, Amanda and Ming, we spent a lot of time together, and as many know I saw him in some of his happiest as well as in his most trying times. I will first write about Noli and Ming together. They were sweet and a good team. Ming did a tremendous job, a tireless job by his side, and was very loving.

But Noli is a fighter, and a doer. And he had an almost impeccable sense of what to do, sometimes even better than the medical experts. After his kidney transplant in the Philippines he sensed he had to complete his recovery back in the US or he would not heal. He came home in terrible shape, it took months but he made it and he flourished. Last May, right after two weeks intensive sedation he left the rehab center very early in his recovery because he knew he would do better at home - even without the full time nursing care. In both instances he did well even though the experts counseled otherwise.

Just by watching him, I would say know yourself, trust yourself, and act would be his mantra. And beyond that, he would tell you to enjoy life and live it to the fullest – otherwise it is not really worth it. He did not compromise in what he wanted or thought he could do. He saw no limits, he knew to be resourceful and get it done.

Noli was a man of many talents and successes, whether in architecture, in business, in real estate investment, or in poker. Again, the belief in oneself and seizing opportunity.

He loved food. Food was life. He made sure you were never hungry. He loved seafood (sushi, shellfish, and particularly lobster). He was spontaneous – “Meet us downtown at Congee Village for duck” (even if it was Amanda’s bedtime). He loved steak. He loved ordering it “Pittsburg style” even if the waiter had no idea what he was asking about in his accent. Food was adventure to him – he was very content to let the waiter bring whatever might be great from the kitchen so he could experiment.

Which brings me to some of the very interesting aspects of Noli – he had these flip side aspects to his being. He could be one way and then as comfortable as the opposite. For instance, he knew what he wanted but he was just as interested in not worrying at all and letting someone else take it on. He could be very controlled and centered in his temperament, but he loved the world of high stakes poker with its tremendous highs and lows. He was easygoing, but loved provocative news shows and talking politics. He could be hard, he could be a softie.

He was caring. He was spirited. He was not going to stop. On his last night on earth, I was the last family member to spend time with him. He kept getting up out of bed, with his broken shoulder and dialyzed kidney, and said we were going home. He was ready, up, set to go. Like every other time.

So wherever Noli may be, he is probably still blazing his trail. He touched many with his limitless, fearless ways - and demonstrated aptly not only what is possible but how to do it in a most savory and adventurous way."


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Gregory Phillips

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