Longworth, Texas, 1933
Summers in Flathead Lake, Montana
Holds nine gold bracelets from WSOP events
Holds an MBA from Hardin-Simmons University
Married with four children
|August 28, 2004||2004 Legends of Poker, Los Angeles||No-Limit Hold'em||1st||$1,198,260|
|April 14, 2003||2003 Bellagio Five Star World Poker Classic, Las Vegas||No-Limit Hold'em||4th||$159,987|
|May, 1991||22nd World Series of Poker, Las Vegas||No-Limit Hold'em||1st||$208,000|
|May, 1977||8th World Series of Poker, Las Vegas||No-Limit Hold'em||1st||$340,000|
Doyle was born in Longworth, Texas, an agricultural community. His youth was devoted to the pursuit of sports. He had considerable success in the field, winning the Texas State Championship in the mile run and eventually getting drafted by the Minneapolis Lakers. However, while still in college he suffered a knee injury that became progressively worse and forced him to quit basketball.
He only held one regular job for a few weeks after he graduated from his Masters program because he was convinced he could make a better living in poker, and he was correct. He got his start in the underground poker circuit in Texas in the 1950's and can recount no small number of stories about the squalid atmosphere surrounding the game in Texas in those long-off days.
Sailor Roberts and Amarillo Slim were among his companions; they worked out strategy manually, as computers had yet to enter the scene. Dealing out thousands of hands, they stayed up till all hours of the night discussing the implications of the results.
Doyle's poker skill eventually outgrew the State of Texas and he moved with his family to Las Vegas. Having established himself there, he won the World Series of Poker in both 1976 and 1977. By an incredible coincidence, he won both years with the same hand, a full house - tens full of deuces; since then, the Hold'em hand '10-2' has often been referred to as 'a Doyle Brunson.'
Most players will tell you that playing tournaments and playing in cash games requires different skill sets and for that reason they admire Brunson greatly because he has succeeded tremendously in both types of play.
Doyle has some intriguing insights into what makes for a great poker player. "What does it take to make a good poker player? Who knows what it takes? I don't know. It's an innate ability that you can't describe ... you just can't explain it. People have tried, but they can't do it. It's something inside you that causes you to pull away from the field. I do know that with just the knowledge and ability to play, you can play at a certain level, but you have to have that "something" inside you to pull away. It's a sixth sense, or an inclination to win, or something. How can you say, for instance, that I am a better player than David Sklansky or Mike Caro? I think that obviously I probably am, but the two of them are the foremost authorities on poker. They know everything ... the situations and what you're supposed to do... yet when it comes time to perform them, they can't do it. They chill up or something happens.'
He continues on to say, 'The explanation I wrote in the book is the best one that I've ever thought of. And it's one that I had never thought about before I wrote the book (that's one reason why I'm glad I wrote it). It's a sense of recall that great players have. You recall what happened the last time you were in this same situation with a player of that caliber. Starting off, you put players in categories by watching their table mannerisms, the way they handle their chips, the way they handle their cards, and so on. You say to yourself that this guy's a certain kind of player, and that guy's a certain kind of player, and then when you get in a pot with them, you recall - subconsciously - the last time you were playing with a guy like that and a similar situation came up. So, you play according to the way the guy played previously. And that's the best way I can explain it."
During the 1980's, Doyle gained additional fame for his golfing. He played for as much as $400,000 a match, but once said: "The guys out on the pro golf tour don't compete for the amount of money we bet on a single round."
Doyle was a kingpin in making tournament poker a reality. As best friend to Benny Binion, the owner of the Horseshoe Casino who wanted to initiate the World Series of Poker, he did everything he possibly could to help Binion fulfill his dream. He says of those days: 'The idea was to get people to come to Vegas, where we could have better cash games. This happened for ten years or so until the satellites started up and took the players out of the cash games.'
Doyle Brunson loves life, and at seventy expresses a wish to be playing and winning big when he is ninety.