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Doyle Brunson, Poker Legend
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eliot_at_perplexity
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14 days ago
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Doyle Brunson, the legendary poker player known as "Texas Dolly," passed away on May 14, 2023, at the age of 89, leaving behind an unparalleled legacy in the world of professional poker. Over his illustrious 60-year career, Brunson won an impressive ten World Series of Poker bracelets, solidifying his status as one of the most influential and successful players in the history of the game.

Early Life and Career Beginnings

en.wikipedia.org
en.wikipedia.org
Doyle Brunson was born on August 10, 1933, in Longworth, Texas. A gifted athlete, he excelled in track and basketball, narrowly missing out on a career in the NBA due to a career-ending knee injury. He first started playing poker in the years following his injury, and eventually took a job as a salesperson. Legend has it, that on his first day in the job he was invited to a card game and won a month's salary in a single night. Soon thereafter he embarked on a career as a professional poker player. Brunson's talent as a track and basketball star earned him a spot in the Hardin-Simmons Athletics Hall of Fame, though he was left out for years before the Baptist college's president, Eric Bruntmyer, convinced the school to let the poker legend in. Brunson carried his Christian upbringing with him throughout his career and was a deeply religious and family-oriented man.
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Rise to Prominence

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cdcgaming.com
In the early years of his poker career, Doyle Brunson formed a group known as the "Texas Rounders" with fellow players Amarillo Slim and Sailor Roberts. They traveled across Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, participating in high-stakes, often illegal poker games. Brunson's stories from this era were filled with extraordinary characters, dangerous situations, and constant efforts to hone his poker skills. Eventually, Brunson relocated to Las Vegas, where poker was legal and the games were safer. He quickly became a fixture in the high-stakes poker scene there, cementing his reputation as one of the best players in the world. Brunson's transition from the lawless road games to the bright lights of Vegas marked his rise to prominence in the poker world.
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Doyle Brunson's achievements

en.wikipedia.org
en.wikipedia.org
Doyle Brunson's achievements in the poker world are truly remarkable:
  1. World Series of Poker (WSOP) Dominance
    • Won 10 WSOP bracelets, tying him for 2nd most all-time
    • Back-to-back WSOP Main Event champion in 1976 and 1977
    • His starting hand of 10-2 in those Main Event wins became known as the "Doyle Brunson" hand
  2. First Million-Dollar Tournament Winner
    • Brunson was the first player to win over $1 million in poker tournament earnings
    • Accumulated over $6 million in live tournament winnings throughout his career
  3. Poker Hall of Fame Inductee
    • Inducted into the prestigious Poker Hall of Fame in 1988
    • Solidified his legendary status and influence on the game
Brunson's decade-spanning dominance at the WSOP, his pioneering achievement as poker's first millionaire, and his Poker Hall of Fame enshrinement cement his legacy as one of the most accomplished and impactful players in poker history.
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Poker Strategy Bible Unveiled

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amazon.com
Super/System, published in 1979, is considered one of the most influential and important books on poker strategy ever written. Authored primarily by Doyle Brunson with contributions from several other top players like Mike Caro, Chip Reese, David Sklansky, and Bobby Baldwin, it was one of the first comprehensive works covering advanced strategies for various poker variants. The book begins with general strategy concepts before delving into specific games like draw poker, seven-card stud, lowball, stud high-low split, limit hold'em, and no-limit hold'em. It also contains a probability and statistics section. Despite being over 40 years old, Super/System is still revered by many professionals as required reading that shaped modern poker theory and made expert-level strategies accessible to the public for the first time. While some content is now outdated, the book's profound influence is undeniable. Brunson himself believed it likely cost him more in future earnings than it made due to the strategies he revealed. Super/System opened the door for the widespread study and development of advanced poker theory that has evolved over subsequent decades.
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Family, Faith, and Philanthropy

apnews.com
apnews.com
Doyle Brunson was deeply devoted to his family and Christian faith. He married Louise in 1962 and the couple had two children together - Todd and Pamela. Both Todd and Pamela followed in their father's footsteps and became professional poker players themselves. Beyond the poker table, Brunson was involved in various philanthropic efforts and business ventures. He helped fund the construction of water wells in Africa and even owned a religious television station. His strong religious beliefs guided his personal life and he remained a committed family man throughout his legendary poker career.
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Enduring Poker Icon

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reviewjournal.com
Even into his later years, Doyle Brunson remained an active and influential figure in the poker world. He continued playing in the highest-stakes cash games in Las Vegas' Bellagio casino well into his 80s. In 2018, at age 84, Brunson made a memorable final appearance at the World Series of Poker, reaching the final table of the $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Championship event. His run captured the attention of fans and media alike, with ESPN even covering it on SportsCenter. Brunson's legendary career came to an end on May 14, 2023, when he passed away at the age of 89 in Las Vegas. His death was mourned by the poker community, with players and fans paying tribute to the "Godfather of Poker" and celebrating his immense impact on the game over six decades. Brunson's enduring legacy as one of poker's most iconic pioneers and his innumerable contributions to strategy and popularity cemented his place among the all-time greats.
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Poker's Mainstream Popularity Icon

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natural8.com
Doyle Brunson's impact extended far beyond the poker tables and into popular culture. As the game gained mainstream popularity through televised events and high-stakes cash game broadcasts, Brunson became a recognizable star. His trademark cowboy hat, aggressive playing style, and charismatic personality made him a fan favorite. Known as the "Godfather of Poker," Brunson's larger-than-life persona transcended the niche world of professional poker players. Brunson was a regular fixture on poker television shows and live streamed cash games, introducing his iconic character to broader audiences. His fame and influence helped drive poker's meteoric rise in popularity from the 1970s through the poker boom of the 2000s. Brunson's widespread recognition as one of the all-time greats cemented his status as a cultural icon in the gambling world and beyond.
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