Legend Doyle Brunson takes on WSOPE

Doyle Brunson
Doyle Brunson in the thick of things at the World Series of Poker Europe.

The first day of the main event at the World Series of Poker Europe presented by Betfair drew some of the game's greatest players Saturday, including one living legend.

At 76-years old, Doyle Brunson has seen poker grow from the illegal backroom games in Texas into a worldwide phenomenon.

However, the first ever two-time WSOP Main Event champion says the game itself really isn't that much different.

"Essentially it hasn't changed," Brunson told PokerListings. "What people don't understand is that the players that you're playing against dictate the way you play.

"I preached aggression and all these different strategy moves and they don't work anymore because these kids on the Internet, that's what they do. So consequently, I changed my game a long time ago.

"You have to modify what you do to whatever is advantageous to the situation."

Whether it's at the big game in Bobby's Room at the Bellagio or inside the Casino at the Empire in Leicester Square for the WSOPE, the 10-time WSOP bracelet winner said one thing rings true.

"Poker is about people, I've always said that," he explained. "It's not about cards, it's about people."

Poker's global boom has grown to the point where World Series events are contested on both sides of the Atlantic and there are high-stakes tournaments in different corners of the world almost every week.

While he makes a point to play in the WSOP events in Las Vegas and London, Brunson travels less than the average pro these days and thinks the tournament grind is simply too much.

Doyle Brunson
'I think I probably would be dead if it wasn't for poker.'

"I think that they have too many tournaments," he said. "There's a tournament every week somewhere. I think a tournament should be something special. A special event in people's lives, not just another week.

"I think it should be just a few major tournaments. Of course, I'm partial to cash games and tournaments have hurt the cash games as well."

When he's home in Las Vegas, Brunson can still be found playing marathon sessions in the biggest cash games in the world at Bellagio and he claims poker keeps him young.

"I think I probably would be dead if it wasn't for poker," he said. "Poker energizes me. I've got a saying: It's too bad my youthful spirit is encased in this mortal aging body and that's kind of the way it is. Until the last year I really didn't even realize I was getting older.

"The gambling, it keeps the adrenaline going, it keeps the blood going and I've always kept my mind sharp, reading or playing poker, doing something. I'm lucky I have good genes. My family all lived into their nineties, so I expect to be around a while."

Having played in the first WSOP in 1970, Brunson is still amazed at the game's growth and the fact he's now playing for a World Series bracelet in the UK.

"Nobody could have foreseen this, no matter how much foresight you have," he said. "(WSOP founder) Benny Binion told me one time, probably in the late 70's, 'You know, we might have 100 people in this tournament some day.' Now we've had 8,500 or something like that.

"Nobody knew and nobody knows where it's going."

The one thing Brunson does know is if there's a World Series bracelet on the line, he will always take a seat at the table.

"I'm here until they throw dirt in my face," he said.

For chip counts, photos, live updates and more from Day 1a of the WSOPE main event and beyond, click through to PokerListings' Live Tournaments page.

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