Doyle Brunson

All poker players know who Doyle Brunson is. And those who don’t are sure to have at least come across the name. Doyle Brunson is a legend within poker and is the player who has played at the top level for the longest. Ever since the 1950s, when Doyle latched onto poker, he has been one of the brightest shining lights in the world of poker.

The loss of his 20-year-old daughter, the sports injury that put an end to his basketball career, a lung cancer diagnosis at a young age. Doyle Brunson’s eventful life has seen many hardships. But he has always gotten to his feet and come back, scarred but strengthened by them.

Doyle was born in 1933, in the small town of Longworth, Texas. Growing up, Doyle was a fine sportsman and he enjoyed basketball, cycling and running. Despite focusing on basketball, Doyle ran an English mile in 4 minutes, 18.6 seconds, a surprisingly good time for a teenager who didn’t train seriously in running.

Doyle Brunson was a promising basketball player

Doyle Brunson was a very promising prospect in basketball. Among his achievements was being chosen for the All State Texas Basketball Team. When the time came to pick a university, several were interested in the basketball talent, but Doyle instead chose the Hardin-Simmons University, in Abilene, near his home in Texas.

Furthermore, the NBA team, the then Minneapolis Lakers (now better known as the LA Lakers), were keen on contracting Doyle’s services. However, sheetrock was to put an end to those particular dreams. Doyle was working a summer job at the local factory and was unloading sheetrock from a lorry when the load shifted and hit him in the knee. He broke his leg in two places and after a while, Doyle realised that his dream of a basketball career had crashed and burned.

It was also during that time that Brunson really discovered the possibilities available in poker. After working as a teacher (Doyle holds a degree in pedagogy), Doyle worked for some time as a salesman, but after a year in the trade he instead chose to wholeheartedly pursue his new passion: poker.

Tough first year for Brunson

Together with pokerlegends such as Amarillo Slim and Johnny Moss, Doyle travelled around Texas, looking for games of poker, which at the time were illegal and were often arranged by criminal organisations. It was a heavy environment but one that, despite the obvious dangers, enticed the young poker players. The stories of murders, gun fights and other similar events are many and Doyle has confessed that, on a couple of occasions, he witnessed mafia-like executions linked to the poker games at the time.

Over time, poker has, as we know, changed and today’s well-oiled poker industry offers completely different options for poker players such as Doyle Brunson. Nowadays, you don’t have to risk your life to play a game of poker. But the experiences Doyle went through in his early years helped make him the poker icon he is today.

The knowledge he picked up eventually became the basis for the content of the poker bible, Super System. The book was the first of its kind and includes an insight into the different strategies used in poker. Before the book was published, in 1979, Doyle had managed to earn two WSOP bracelets (1976-77). The book inspired many poker players around the world and all who play poker today are likely to know that Super System is Doyle Brunson’s work.

Doyle Brunson – Mr Poker

There is absolutely no doubt that Doyle is one of the biggest players of all time. Only Phil Hellmuth Jr has earned more WSOP bracelets: 11 against Doyle’s 10, and no other player have consistently played at the top for as long. When Doyle earned his latest bracelet, in 2005, 29 years had passed since his first. Despite all the titles, the one he prizes most is not one of his own, but the single one earned by his son Todd, in 2005 – the same summer that Doyle earned his latest title.

If you take into account Doyle’s poker successes with the fact that he wrote the best known book on poker, that he started his own poker room – Doyle’s Room -, and that he has around fifty years of experience of poker at the highest level, it is no surprise that the name Doyle Brunson is inextricably entwined with poker. Doyle Brunson is, and always will be, a legend in the full and best sense of the word.