Poker profiles Poker

Poker Legends: Doyle Brunson

Written by Ben Blaschke

There have been plenty of influential poker players over the years, but few have had such an impact as the great Doyle Brunson. The elder statesman of the game still stands as a pioneer of the modern game, having established himself as a household name when he won the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event in consecutive years in 1976 and 1977.

He was also among the first to release a strategy book outlining the thought processes of the game’s top players – a concept that put many of his peers offside at the time – and is one of the few players to have a poker hand named after him!

Brunson is from the old school of poker. He cut his teeth playing in illegal games run by gang members and criminals, had guns pulled on him regularly and has admitted to having seen people shot in front of him over disputed debts. But his skills got him through and as he progressed to Las Vegas he quickly became known as one of the most solid players on the planet.

He is one of only three players alongside Phil Hellmuth and Johnny Chan to have won 10 WSOP bracelets and while the others have specialized in No Limit Hold’em, Brunson has proved his all-round ability by winning bracelets in Deuce to Seven Draw, Seven Card Split, Seven Card Razz and HORSE.

In 1978, Brunson released his book Super System which influenced so many players that the great man himself believes he ultimately cost himself money by helping those players improve.

He is also remembered for winning both the 1976 and 1977 WSOP Main Events with the trashy 10-2 offsuit – both times coming from behind in the hand to claim the title. As a result, 10-2 is known around the world as “The Doyle Brunson hand”.

Now 80 years old, Brunson’s ambition hasn’t slowed. He is still a regular in “Bobby’s Room” at the Bellagio and any other high stakes game he can get his hands on, while he also remains one of the most popular figures at the WSOP – regularly receiving a standing ovation from the room when he busts out of his beloved WSOP Main Event.