For many of us, the world of professional poker is one in which we can only dream of joining. But it takes as special kind of person to become a poker star, especially one that continues to sustain their success for their entire career. Since the birth of professional poker, there have been many poker legends that have influenced the sport in some way. None however, come close to brilliance of one Doyle Brunson.
Enrolled into the Poker Hall of Fame in 1988, Brunson was named the most influence voice in poker back in 2006. Playing professionally since the early 1950’s, he won his first back-to-back World Series of Poker titles in 1976 and has been going strong ever since. Such was his influence in the poker world that he even self-published a book on poker and the strategies that gave him his winning edge.
Detailing the Super/System and throwing in personal anecdotes, Brunson’s book became so influential, it was picked up by a world-renowned publisher and released as a paperback, even spawning a sequel, Super System 2, which was released in 2004. Brunson has appeared on numerous television shows, conducted multiple interviews and appeared on Poker After Dark and High Stakes Poker as well as The Big Game. At the age of 84, Brunson made a guest appearance on the now streaming version of Poker After Dark, cementing his status as a poker all-star.
From Tragedy to Success
Brunson’s story originates in the world of sport. As a star athlete in high school, he was proficient in multiple sports and was named as one of the top-10 basketball players in the US. The Minneapolis Lakers were keenly aware of his talents and were preparing to take him on board. It was at this time; in the height of his sporting prowess that Brunson broke his leg in two places while working on a Gypsum plant. Spending the next two years in a cast, Brunson’s dream of joining the NBA came to abrupt halt.
Giving up on his sporting career, Brunson turned his attention to academics, earning his Master’s degree in education. Finding himself with more than just an average ability to win at the poker table, Brunson paid for his education with his 5-card draw poker winnings. After graduating, Brunson found that the job market was proving to be far less lucrative than poker was. He then decided to pursue a professional career in poker, with a road trip across the States.
On the Road to Tournament Poker
Starting out in Fort Worth, Brunson got involved in underground 7-card stud games before moving across to Texas and other neighbouring states. Here he played against the likes of Sailor Roberts and Amarillo Slim, all of whom were forging their own poker-star status against the big guns in the industry.
Eventually settling in Las Vegas, Brunson was one of the first players to be invited to play at the inaugural World Series of poker in 1970. Since then, tournament poker has been one of his greatest loves. So much in fact that he has won a total of ten World Series of Poker Tournaments between 1976 and 2005. This puts him tied in second place as all-time winners behind Phil Hellmuth who reigns supreme at 14 wins.
Brunson has also had a taste the big money games as he participated in the “Big Game” at the Bellagio. For those who are not sure what the “Big Game” is, this is a mixed poker game where the buy in is a whopping $20000 and the games can play anywhere between $4000 and $8000. While he may be in his mid-80’s Brunson is still a boss at the tables and is certainly one of the greatest legends we have seen in the game.