• American Backgammon Hall of Fame

Joe Sylvester

Joe Sylvester Photo
Inducted in 2018
From St. Louis, Missouri

Beginning with a victory in the World Amateur Championship (544 players) in Las Vegas in 1983, at the age of twenty-one, Joe Sylvester was generally considered to be the best tournament player in the game for at least the next twelve years. Playing in the pre-bot era, he was an early theorist of the game, sharing his opinions, insights, and experience as an author, teacher, and mentor. He was a forerunner in understanding and explaining match equity. He was the first to use the PRAT (Position, Race, and Threats) system for doubling. Blessed with a photographic memory, his recall of played matches facilitated discussion, analysis, and the resolution of occasional disputes.


  • Voted to the 32 Giants of Backgammon three times — #3 in ’93, #6 in ’95, and #12 in ’97. Won the World Cup in Dallas in 1988 and also finished second in 1994 and third in 1992. Recently, he won the 2007 and 2011 Illinois State Championships.
  • His many victories include the 1984 Michelob Open; Pittsburgh, Chicago Midwest, and a repeat Michelob Open in 1985; Super Jackpot in The Bahamas in 1986; Reno Masters Invitational in 1992; and the Super Jackpot in Monte Carlo in 1995.