About Doyle Brunson

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Doyle Brunson

It looks like Doyle Brunson might remain stalled at 10 WSOP gold bracelets - but don't deal him out of the world of poker just yet.

Despite officially retiring from World Series of Poker play in 2018 Brunson can still be found in Bobby's Room in Las Vegas getting some action - and he'll continue to from time to time as long as his health allows it.

Regardless of when he finally puts his chip protector aside for good, the legendary poker pro will always be front of mind for poker players of all generations - for his accomplishments within the game itself and for pushing poker to new heights around the globe as an instrumental figure during the poker boom.

Born a Texan, Always a Texan

Born August 10, 1933, in the midst of the Depression in Longworth, Texas, the man who later would become known as "Texas Dolly" was just another farm boy in a town of 100. Early on, Brunson found a niche in athletics.

After winning the Texas State Championship in the mile run and landing a spot on the all-state basketball team, Brunson fielded offers of athletic scholarships from colleges across the United States. In the end he chose Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene because it was only 40 miles from his hometown.

Doyle Brunson

There, he studied education and was drafted by the NBA's Minneapolis Lakers. Though a knee injury - which persists to this day - sidelined Brunson's career as a professional athlete he completed his studies and graduated from university with an MBA in administrative education.

Meanwhile, Brunson helped pay for his education by playing poker games at colleges around Texas. By his account, Brunson learned the game quickly and used his observation skills to cash in.

Doyle's Day Job Doesn't Last

After graduating from university Brunson took his one and only day job selling office equipment. His first paycheck seemed so paltry compared to his poker winnings, Brunson quit and became a professional player. That meant going underground.

At outlaw games Brunson had to contend with police, cheaters and robbers; he once saw the player next to him shot and killed, and has looked down the barrel of a gun during an interrupted poker game.

In 1960, Brunson met Louise, the woman he would eventually marry after several years of courting and convincing her it would be fine to marry a professional gambler. Early in their marriage Doyle was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his throat and the prognosis was grave: Doctors gave him several months to live as the tumor was spreading quickly toward his brain.

Ever the gambler, Brunson chose to try a risky surgery as his last hope. When all was said and done, he was pronounced cancer-free. The news couldn't have come at a better time as Louise was pregnant with their first child and Brunson needed to head back out on the poker trail to start earning money for his family, which quickly grew to include two daughters, Doyla and Pamela, and son Todd, who is also a professional poker player.

Texas Road Gamblers Take It to Vegas

Brunson continued to support his growing brood playing and winning on the poker circuit, where he eventually met his mentor Johnny Moss as well as future partners Amarillo Slim Preston and Sailor Roberts. The men toured Texas, winning big money and earning a reputation for being nearly unbeatable high-stakes poker players.

Doyle Brunson

The trio eventually disbanded after losing their six-figure bankroll in Las Vegas, but Brunson hadn't lost his love of poker. After wearing out his welcome in Texas Brunson packed up his wife and their four children and moved to Las Vegas where poker was legal.

By 1976, he had won his first World Series of Poker title, which he followed up with a second win in 1977. The two championships have forever branded the 10-2 Hold'em hand a "Doyle Brunson" because he took both championship games with a full house - tens full of deuces.

Brunson made his mark again in 1978, by penning the book Super/System, considered a definitive guide to poker. Since then he has also authored Super/System 2; a book of memoirs; and a book about the greatest hands he's ever seen.

In 2005, he earned his 10th World Series of Poker bracelet, a record he shared with Johnny Chan.

Solidifying his place in poker history he also had a World Poker Tour event held in his name. The Doyle Brunson North American Championship is the main event of the Five Diamond World Poker Classic at the Bellagio, where Doyle is often seen playing in the biggest cash games around.

The championship was the second largest tournament by entry fee on the WPT with its $15,000 buy-in, second only to the $25,000 WPT Championship.

 

Doyle Brunson

A Man with a Mission

Now well into his golden years Brunson is still winning more at poker than he loses - a barometer he says will determine exactly when he stops playing for good.

With both his and his wife's health declining, though, Brunson plans to make his time at the felt fewer and further between and spend the rest of days staying with her, enjoying their time together.

With not much more he can accomplish in the game - he was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame all the way back in 1988 and he's made the most appearances in poker cash games than any other player - it's his longevity at the highest-stakes Brunson says he hopes to remembered for the most.

From humble beginnings to one of the most influential forces in poker ever, Brunson clearly meant it when he said, "A man with money is no match against a man on a mission."

Mission accomplished.

Barry Greenstein on Doyle Brunson:

"Doyle is the Arnold Palmer of poker: the king. He was once strictly a No-Limit specialist but he probably became a top Limit player when he was working on his Super/System book.

 

"People who don't know him are amazed when he makes it to the final table of one of the few tournaments he enters each year. He is still a better player than all of the players on the tournament trail.

 

"When I first started playing with Doyle, we'd play in out-of-the-way places because some of the well-known players didn't want public scrutiny. I would ask Doyle about the poker game, but he would always talk about the food spread at the game.

 

"He weighed 400 pounds and he'd say to me, 'Look at those pork chops' or 'Tell me if you've ever tasted a better sweet potato than those.' He seemed to get much more delight from eating than playing poker."

 

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