It is always a melancholy day when one of our community’s past greats passes away. In this case, it is noted poker columnist, author, and player Bob Ciaffone. Ciaffone, who also would prove to be one of the first who put pen to paper in an attempt to teach people how to play the game of poker better, was 81 when he passed away on Friday.
Set the Rules for Poker
Born in Brooklyn in 1940, Ciaffone’s career path would take him places beyond the Five Boroughs. He would use his writing talents to pen what would become the benchmark book on how to play poker by the rules. Robert’s Rules of Poker was written in 1984 and it quickly became THE official rule book for poker rooms around the world. Covering such different games as Texas Hold’em, Omaha Hold’em, and Stud and its variants including Lowball, the book was invaluable as to helping to standardize how poker games operate.
But Ciaffone’s writing went beyond just canonizing the rules for the games. Ciaffone also wrote about how to play certain variants of poker. His tomes included Omaha Poker: The Action, Middle Limit Poker, Pot Limit and No Limit Poker, and Improve Your Poker. His skills were so appreciated that Ciaffone was asked by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission to assist them with establishing the rules their poker rooms would play under after casino gaming was opened in the state in the 90s, an action that Florida poker rooms also undertook in the 2000s with Ciaffone.
Perhaps where most people would know Ciaffone from who came to the game in the last 20 years would be through his work in CardPlayer Magazine. Ciaffone was a columnist for the top poker magazine in the industry for several years, offering his wisdom on the game and strategy for an appreciative audience.
Well Versed in Many Different Games
Ciaffone was a familiar face on the poker circuit when there was little attention paid to it. His first documented cash was a fifth-place finish in a $1000 No Limit tournament at the World Series of Poker back in 1985, a feat that he would pull off eleven times (his last official cash was in the Super Seniors event in 2019). Ciaffone was a part of the 1987 WSOP Championship Event final table, eventually falling in third place to runner-up Frank Henderson and eventual champion Johnny Chan.
Although a major tournament poker championship would escape him, Ciaffone was able to cash 31 times in his lengthy career for a total of slightly more than $347,000 in earnings.
There was more than just poker to Bob Ciaffone, however. He would become a prolific chess player, at one time serving as the president of the Michigan Chess Federation and eventually earning his Life Master title from the U. S. Chess Federation. Ciaffone also was proficient in backgammon and bridge, with his bridge talents earning him another Life Master title.
Poker News Daily would like to offer their condolences to Ciaffone’s family and friends upon his passing.