Understanding Doyle Brunson

Doyle Brunson

His nickname of "Texas Dolly" came about when a competitor (Jimmy "the Greek" Snyder) misread Doyle's name. You can be certain that everyone involved in poker knows his name quite well, nowadays. To call him the Godfather of poker is probably a gross understatement. After all, he did write the "Bible" of poker, Super System. He has been an ambassador for the game for longer than most of us have been alive.

In many respects, Doyle Brunson IS poker. He is one of the main reasons that poker has come into the forefront of our modern culture and consciousness. At the very least, he is a symbol of what many would like poker to be. Affable, stoic, respected, and respectful, Doyle is the antithesis of the young Internet whiz-kids who seem to disrespect each other and the game.

Doyle at the WSOP

Doyle was a very accomplished athlete as a youngster. He attended college on a basketball scholarship and scored a contract with an NBA team, until an accident caused a serious injury to his leg that still affects him to this day. After his injury, his competitive drive and need to produce an income led him into gambling and poker. He secured his record 10th WSOP bracelet in 2005 (tied with Johnny Chan for most all time), and plays as tough today at 71 years old as he ever has. Pretty amazing considering the doctors told him he had 3 months to live back in 1962, huh? Cancer couldn't hold back Doyle Brunson, and neither could his opponents at the tables.

At the 2005 WSOP, my wife and I were milling around the Rio the day before the main event began. The throngs of spectators and media were yet to arrive, as this day held an event which garnered very little mass attention (it was a $5000 deuce to seven lowball with re-buys). The professional players were able to move around the room without tons of autograph seekers and interview hounds. It was a refreshingly relaxed atmosphere just before the mass hysteria of the enormous main event. Without fanfare or effort, Doyle commanded the room during a break in the action. In turn, other pros and familiar faces made their turns to come past and say hello to the man. He greeted each with his patented wide grin. Even his biggest competitors will admit that they are his opposition AND fans. As I walked across the room to meet up with a poker writer and friend of mine, we took some time to discuss how classy Doyle was to everyone -- press, dealers, floor managers, fans, and opposition. After our impromptu discussion on Doyle, I came back to find my wife having a story to tell. She's a Doyle fan, too, and had a picture taken with the man. He'd taken some time out of his day to chit chat with her and a few other poker fans that huddled near his table. That wry chuckle of his was unmistakable, and it simply lightened the spirits of the whole room. It was a highlight for all of his fans.

I've never seen Doyle intimidated. I've never seen him rattled. I've never seen him steam. Remember when you were a kid and you thought your Dad was unflappable? You thought that your Dad "knew it all"? Yeah, many of us have that same feeling for Doyle. He trusts his reads and seems to make consistently good decisions. He is really a poker machine. By poker machine I do not mean lifeless and unimaginative, I am referring to his tough southern nature that shows he's not to be "messed-with."

Doyle Brunson: Play Profile & Prediction

PLAY PROFILE: Doyle understands poker, and he understands people. Those two keys, combined with millions of hands of play that he's logged, makes Doyle a force at any poker venue. He is way too experienced and self-controlled to allow emotions and tilt to overtake him. To him, bad beats are old hat and are expected. I can't say that he has a clear "best" game. He is simply great at each game. Although he's most well known for his No-Limit Hold 'Em Tourney wins, he has spent much more time (overall) in cash games with an entire mix of games. His only weakness may be his health and age. With the WSOP and WPT booming, for instance, tournaments that used to entail a day can now become a several day marathon event. It takes a clear stamina to keep up with the current tournament trail and schedule.

PREDICTIONS: With ventures such as his book Super System 2, playing site Doyle's Room, and rumors of Doyle leading a group of investors to stock bid to control the World Poker Tour, it seems that Doyle is very prepared to succeed at the tables AND away from them. I can't imagine Doyle following the same tournament schedule that some professionals do -- dashing to Aruba, then Paris, then Foxwoods, then Reno, then California, then Vegas . Doyle will continue to play a few select events (probably always the WSOP), and focus more time and energy into the business and marketing end of poker. His son, Todd Brunson, has also become a major force in professional poker. Doyle will undoubtedly enjoy witnessing his son's successes. Doyle got a standing ovation (again) as he exited this year' WSOP main event. I predict we will be applauding him with utmost respect for many more years to come.


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Poker Players

Andy Bloch
Annie Duke
Antonio Esfandiari
Chris Ferguson
Dan Harrington
Daniel Negreanu
Doyle Brunson
Greg Raymer
Gus Hansen
Howard Lederer
James Woods

Jennifer Harman
Johnny Chan
Mark Seif
Mike Matusow
Phil Gordon
Phil Hellmuth
Phil Ivey
Phil Laak
Poker Hotties
Sam Farha
TJ Cloutier

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