Poker Stars Pay Tribute to Poker Legend Doyle Brunson

PokerWired
15 May 2023
PokerWired Staff 15 May 2023
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  • Member of Poker Hall of Fame
  • Two-time WSOP Main winner
  • Helped popularize game around the world
doyle brunson
Doyle Brunson looks on during the final table of the World Poker Tour's Doyle Brunson North American Poker Championship at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada
The poker world has been paying tribute to Doyle Brunson this morning. Brunson, one of the biggest names and a legendary Texas road gambler, passed away on Sunday at age 89. 

Brunson was a two-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event champion, a member of the Poker Hall of Fame, and the author of several books on poker. A master of the game, he helped to popularize poker around the world. 

Brunson was considered one of the leading minds in poker and authored Super/System, considered the first modern take on poker strategy, as well as a sequel Super/System 2. He also wrote a regular column for Card Player magazine and had a deal with an online onine card room in the 2000s, known as Doyle's Room.

Even well into his 80s, Brunson played in some of the biggest cash games in the world including on shows like High Stakes Poker.

Texas Poker Legend

Born in 1933, Brunson grew up on a cotton farm in Longworth, Texas. In high school, Brunson excelled at sports – earning all-state honors in track and basketball. After graduation, Hardin-Simmons University offered Brunson a basketball scholarship in 1950.

“It was one of the best times of my life,” he remembers. “Most of the students were from the same background as me – off of farms and from small towns – kind of like the kids that I grew up with.”

Studying education with plans to become a teacher and then principal, Brunson earned a master’s degree in education administration. While sidelined with an injury from the basketball team, poker began taking up more of his time. Even during those early days, the poker legend was w inne most times.

“Obviously those games were for very small stakes, but they were big to me at the time,” he said. “That’s how I learned to play poker and found out I liked it.”

After graduating in 1954, Brunson took a job selling business machines, but could make more money at the poker table. In one session he could earn more money than he would all month in just three hours. He then began his life as a Texas road gambler, traveling throughout the Southwest for poker actiob in backrooms and smoky home games.

Playing in a safe and secure casino wasn't an option. Carrying a gun to avoid robberies was a part of doing business and Brunson once had a knife once put to his neck and a gun in his face.

“That was a typical thing back in those days,” Brunson said. “You had to be very careful getting out of those places because a lot of times people would be waiting on you. The thought that someone would put a knife to your throat just sent chills down your spine.”

When the WSOP debuted in 1970, Brunson was one of the original players at the table. He went on to win the Main Event in 1976 and 1977. His final hands in both wins was the 10-2, which has become known as the "Doyle Brunson hand." He remains tied with Phil Ivey and Johnny Chan for second in all-time WSOP bracelet wins with 10.

In 2004, the Texan also scored big on the World Poker Tour. At age 71, Brunson became the oldest players to ever win a tour title. He took down the L.A. Poker Classic for $1.2 million. During his lifetime, Bruson accumulated $6.2 million in live tournamen t winnings. His record includes millions more won at the cash game tables.

Players Remember Doyle Brunson

After news of Brunson's death broke, players took to social media to pay tribute to the poker legend. Daniel Negreanu was a longtime friend and battled him at the tables through the years.

"Doyle Brunson was a true legend of the game," Negreanu said. "He was a pioneer, a champion, and an inspiration to us all. He will be deeply missed."

Phil Hellmuth also added some of his own thoughts on the poker giant and his importance to the game.

"Doyle Brunson was the greatest poker player of all time. He was a master of the game, and he helped to popularize it around the world. He will be remembered as a true icon."

Tom Dwan played with Brunson in numerous high stakes game. While he may be part of a younger poker generation, the two became friends and considered him a major part of his poker life.

"Doyle Brunson was a great friend and mentor to me," Dwan said. "He taught me so much about the game of poker, and he always had my back. I will miss him dearly."

Like Brunson, Antonio Esfandiari found major popularity during the poker boom of the 2000s. Like many, he thought of Brunson as a mentor. 

"Doyle Brunson was a giant in the poker world," he said. "He was a champion, a writer, and a mentor to so many. He will be deeply missed."


Ivey also became a friend and was saddened by Brunson's death.

"Doyle Brunson was a true legend," he noted. "He was a pioneer of the game, and he helped to make poker what it is today. He will be remembered as one of the greatest poker players of all time." - Phil Ivey

Brunson is survived by his children Todd and Pam and his wife Lousie.

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