Poker Idols – Doyle Brunson

Doyle Brunson
Doyle Brunson

The life of Doyle Brunson – nicknamed the Godfather of Poker – has been an extra ordinary one. From the basketball court – yes, really – to the poker felt, the man who became known as ‘Texas Dolly’ changed the game of poker forever when he became known as ‘the man in the hat’.  

Humble Beginnings and Hoop Dreams  

Doyle Brunson was born in 1933, six years before the start of the second World War, and would grow up as an extremely sporty individual. Running a 4:43 mile and starring at basketball, there was a real chance Brunson would have ended up in the NBA were it not for a broken leg that ruined his chances of a sporting career.  

Instead of sports, Brunson took to the poker felt and immediately found an affinity with the challenging environment he would go on to dominate. He gambled on everything from golf to poker, and traveled around areas such as Louisiana, Fort Worth and Oklahoma playing the game he loved and loved winning at. When the World Series of Poker came along in 1970, Brunson was already a huge part of the poker community and became one of the world’s best.  

The World Series and Beyond 

Brunson became known as ‘Texas Dolly’ when he won back-to-back WSOP Main Events in 1976 and 1977, each time holding the winning final hand of ten-deuce. Playing ten-deuce has become synonymous with ‘The Godfather of Poker’  

Brunson’s World Series legend goes so much further than his Main Event victories. He’s the winner of 10 WSOP bracelets, which puts him joint second on the all-time list, level with Johnny Chan and behind only Phil Hellmuth (who has 15).  

Truly, Doyle Brunson carved out a name for himself at the World Series in particular and in tournaments, but that is far from all he is known for.  

The King of Cash  

While ten-deuce may be the ‘Texas Dolly’, ace-queen is known as the ‘Doyle Brunson’ of poker hands, so said because Brunson has lost the most money in his career with this hand, and tries never to play it if he can help it.  

Brunson has carved out a huge part of his career at the cash table and from playing in the Big Game at Bobby’s Room – named after another poker legend, Bobby Baldwin, Brunson has been the shark in so many cash games over the years that he could be forgiven for growing a fin.  

Now 87 years old, Doyle Brunson is an idol to millions of poker players and fans, with a universal appeal across the eras of the game. Having retired from the tournament felt, there’s every chance that in the future, young players will ask ‘Who is Doyle Brunson?’. You can reliably answer that he’s the only poker player who ever held cards who is known by his silhouette alone.