Cookies on the PokerWorks Website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the PokerWorks website. However, if you would like to, you can change your cookie settings at any time.

Continue using cookies

Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where are they now - Doyle Brunson

Share this
Where are They Now is a series of an in depth look at all poker players - not just the pros - as they travel through one long game. Some of the players profiled are deceased but not forgotten.

Doyle Brunson is easily the most recognizable face in poker today. “The Godfather of Poker” has been seen at Las Vegas poker tables for nearly 50 years. The good natured Brunson will gladly you tell you one of his thousands of tales he’s been part of while scooping up the latest pot, still maintaining his famous smile. Although he is now adored by millions, he was brought into this world in a tiny town of just 100. “The Texas Dolly” is truly a person who made his own path.

Brunson was born in Longworth, Texas in 1933. In his early years Brunson showed very little interest in poker. Instead, he seemed to be well on his way to a promising athletic career. When most kids from his neighborhood where sitting around during the summer, Brunson started building a reputation as a hard worker, as he would often run long distances between towns just to keep in shape. When football and basketball seasons started, he was that much more prepared than the other kids, and it also helped that he had a natural talent in both of those sports, especially basketball. After earning All-State honors in basketball, Brunson seriously began considering a career in the NBA. The same 6’5” frame that has earned Brunson some intimidation points at the poker table also caught the eye of colleges around the country who wanted to recruit him for basketball. Despite getting some scholarship offers from big basketball powerhouses around the nation, Brunson instead decided to go to small Hardin-Simmons University, in nearby Abilene, Texas, because he wanted to be close to home.

As his basketball game continued to excel, Brunson finally started getting interested in the game that made him famous. During down time in college he would play poker with friends and other members of the team, although it was still just a game to him at this point. After a successful college basketball career and earning a degree in Education, Brunson was drafted by the then named Minneapolis Lakers. Soon after this, his life would change.

After graduating, Brunson went back home for the summer to earn some money. While unloading sheetrock one day, the load started to fall off the truck. Trying to stop it all from tumbling on to the ground, Brunson used his leg to try to keep it up. The pressure was too much, severely injuring his knee, and changing his own personal course of history forever. By all accounts, Brunson never really seemed to curse his bad luck. He had every reason to – after all he was just about to start playing basketball in the NBA. However, Brunson knew he had his degree, so he would most likely be okay. Like many eventual poker players though, Brunson still had a competitive drive after the injury, so he took up poker. Before Brunson even had to consider getting a real job, he was making money playing in games in Fort Worth, Texas, and soon hit the road to find more lucrative poker games.

On the road he met two other faces that helped shape the face of poker, Amarillo Slim and Sailor Roberts. The three of them spent the better part of the late 1950’s and early1960’s traveling around the southern part of the United States, making their fair share of money. Famously, the poker trio made an ill-advised trip to Las Vegas to try their luck in some of the biggest games in the world. Between the three of them, they proceeded to lose their entire bankroll of over six figures in just a few short weeks. It was here that the three of them decided to part ways, but they stayed friends. Despite his hard luck in Vegas, Brunson decided to move there because all of the games he had made money in were illegal, non-policed, and drying up.

Brunson quickly found success in the biggest cash games in Vegas, and was one of the first names associated with tournament poker. When the World Series of Poker started in 1970, Brunson was one of the original competitors. Despite coming close to winning the main event a few times, it wasn’t until 1976 that Brunson first earned the bracelet. In 1977, he became the first back-to-back main event winner in the current format’s history (Johnny Moss was voted best player in 1970, it wasn’t until 1977 that the WSOP started the “freezeout” format). Interestingly enough, Brunson won his two main events with the same exact hand, a 10-2. This of course is why that hand got the name, a “Doyle Brunson.” Brunson himself also earned a nickname around this time that has stuck, “Texas Dolly.”

Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder was to introduce Brunson at a function as “Texas Doyle Brunson,” but instead read, “Texas Dolly Brunson,” hence, the birth of one of the most famous nicknames in poker – “Texas Dolly,” or simply, “Dolly.”

After his first main event victory he wrote The Super System, along with some of the best players of that time. The book, now famous, gave many of the strategies the top players used, and helped would-be decent players become that much better because of this book. Despite the book being the number one selling poker book of all-time, Brunson has called it one of his worst career mistakes. He has often said, to various members of the media, that if he could go back and do it all again, not writing that book would be near the top of his list. He has said that the book has cost him potentially millions of dollars at the poker table, but obviously he is doing just fine.

Brunson has won 10 World Series of Poker bracelets, just one behind Phil Hellmuth. His most recent bracelet came at the 2005 $5,000 No Limit Hold’em shorthanded event. Not bad for a would-be basketball player. It is known that Brunson has won over three million dollars in tournament poker, but it is unknown how much he has won at the “Big Game.”

To many he is the best poker player to ever play the game, but if you ask him, he gives that honor to his friend Chip Reese, who recently passed away unexpectedly from a bout with pneumonia.

At 74 years old, he is showing no signs of slowing down. He is still a mainstay at the biggest cash game in world, which takes place at “Bobby’s Room,” at the Bellagio. There the limits are as big as you want to play, you name the game, someone will start a table with you, and a medium sized fortune can be made nearly every single hand. For these players, especially Brunson, this is just another day at the office.

*Editor's Note: Doyle's Room is taking US players. Download Doyles Room Now and get Exclusive PokerWorks Bonus! Deposit Bonus: 35% up to $135 - use Bonus code: PWORKS*

News Flash

The IRS Scores Big at 2015 WSOP ME Final Table

The IRS managed to snag 34.13 percent from the payouts of the 2015 November Nine, totaling $8,467,091.

Read more

Quick Room Review

Bonus Room review

Subscribe to the Nightly Turbo

Be the first to know all the latest poker news, tournament results, gossip and learn all about the best online poker deals straight from your inbox.

RSS Feed