Who was Doyle Brunson, the Godfather of Poker?

Date:2023-12-22 Category: biography
Doyle Brunson

Doyle Brunson called himself the godfather of poker in his autobiography. And the truth is, when you look at his life, you cannot dispute this claim in any way. He really was the godfather of poker and was present at all the pivotal moments of the game’s evolution into its current shape. Let’s take a look at the prolific life of Doyle Brunson and try to understand the reason for his great popularity.

 

Doyle Brunson’s life in a nutshell

Doyle Brunson was born on August 10, 1933, and died on May 14, 2023. He lived for 89 years, 50 of which he was a professional poker player and 61 of which he was happily married to Louise. Doyle was also the first to win $1 million from poker games and tournaments. He has appeared in many TV shows and participated in almost all World Series of Poker tournaments until his retirement in 2018. Let’s take a look at his life a little more closely.

Doyle Brunson’s origins

Doyle was born in Longworth, Texas, and attended high school and college there. He was a professional basketball player at school and college, and many NBA teams approached him intending to recruit him. However, that dream died with the knee injury that prevented him from playing basketball ever again. He soothed his knee pain and the sting of his failure by playing poker at illegal cash games around the city (more about that later.)

 

He continued his education at a university in Texas and received a BA and an MA in administrative education, which allowed him to become a school manager. But after playing poker a few times and earning more than his monthly salary in one night, he realized that a life behind a desk was not for him. He left his job to become a full-time poker player.

 

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Doyle Brunson’s early days in poker

As mentioned before, Doyle started playing poker at games and tournaments that were illegal and run by criminals and gangsters. As he says in his autobiography, playing in such circles was extremely dangerous. He once witnessed a man get shot at a poker table, and another time, he was robbed at gunpoint when leaving a poker game. After a few years of this, he finally decided to stop risking his life and move to Las Vegas forever.

Doyle Brunson’s early days in poker

His debut in Las Vegas was not a successful one, and he lost nearly six figures playing at different casinos. But he finally made his way and experienced his first win at the 3rd World Series of Poker tournament. This tournament brought him third place and a prize of $32,500.

 

Doyle’s relationship with the World Series of Poker

Doyle Brunson was a regular at WSOP tournaments since they began in 1970. He won 10 gold bracelets during his career and made more than $6 million playing poker at the main events. Here are some of Brunson’s more significant wins at the World Series of Poker tournaments:

  1. On May 11, 1972, he won third place with a prize of $32,000.
  2. On May 6, 1976, he won first place and his first gold bracelet with a prize of $80,250.
  3. On May 10, 1976, he won another first place at the same tournament and pocketed $220,000.
  4. On May 2, 1977, he won his third gold bracelet with a prize of $62,000.
  5. On May 10, 1977, he participated in the same tournament and won another bracelet along with $340,000.
  6. On May 10, 1978, he received his fifth gold bracelet at the 9th WSOP and earned $68,000.
  7. On May 18, 1979, he got his sixth gold bracelet and won $4,500.
  8. In May, 1980, he attended the WSOP twice and won second place both times, winning a total of $221,000.
  9. On May 16, 1983, he won third place, and earned $108,000.
  10. On May 11, 1991, he got his seventh bracelet in the 22nd WSOP, with a prize of $208,000.
  11. On July 15, 2006, he returned to the annual WSOP and managed the 8th place, pocketing $274,000.
  12. On July 2, 2007, he sat at the annual WSOP again and won 6th place and a $123K prize this time.
  13. June 29, 2008, Doyle experienced his last win in the annual WSOP. He finished 16th place and earned $124,320.

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Doyle’s last win

Doyle’s last win

As mentioned before, Doyle retired from professional poker in 2018. His last poker tournament was the World Series of Poker, in which he earned 6th place and added $43,963 to his total winnings. With that, he put an end to a shining career in professional poker, a place he had been a king for so long.

 

Doyle’s children

Doyle Brunson had three children, one of whom died of heart problems when she was eighteen. His two other children, Todd and Pamela, learned the trade from their father and entered the world of poker as soon as they were allowed to.

 

Todd can claim a professional poker career with $4.5 million under his belt and a WSOP golden bracelet on his wrist. On the other hand, Pamela has had a few poker tournament appearances, the most important of which was the 2007 World Series of Poker tournaments.

 

Dolye Room

Doyle Brunson opened his own poker room in 2004 and called it Doyle Room. This room started on the Tribeca Poker Network but later moved to several other networks. Brunson got into some disagreement with the government about this room and was accused of breaking some gambling laws. Eventually, he sold the room off to Americas Cardroom in 2011.

 

Dolye’s books

Besides his autobiography, Doyle has written several other books considered reference books in the poker world. His first book, Doyle Brunson’s Supersystem, was self-published in 1978, but it was met with great enthusiasm from young poker players who were learning the game. He published a second version, Supersystem 2, in 2004. Doyle’s other books are Poker Wisdom of a Champion, How I Made One Million Dollars Playing Poker, Online Poker: A Guide to Playing, Poker Wisdom of a Champion, SuperStar Poker Strategy, and My 50 Most Memorable Hands.

Doyle’s television appearances

Doyle’s reputation and continuous successful streak made him a popular guest on TV shows. Some of the most popular TV programs he appeared on were The High Stakes Poker, The Big Game, Poker After Dark, and Poker Superstars. He played at the same table with Jennifer Tilly in one of the programs, after which Tilly admitted to being “so nervous.”

 

Doyle’s battle with the big C

Doyle Brunson was diagnosed with cancer just a few months after his wife was pregnant with their first child. According to his physician, he wouldn’t stay alive to see his daughter’s birth. Doyle had always been a religious person, and when his cancer went into spontaneous remission, he believed that his wife’s prayers at their church had done the trick. Doyle’s cancer came back multiple times after that but went into remission each time. In the end, Doyle lived to the ripe age of 89 and died of unknown causes.

 

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Doyle Brunson’s net worth

Doyle Brunson had significant income from several sources. Other than the total of $6 million that he earned playing in poker tournaments, he had many sponsorships, his poker room, and his book sales. All in all, Doyle Brunson’s net worth is estimated to be about $75 million.

 

Doyle Brunson’s life in a box

Name Doyle Brunson
Nicknames Texas Dolly

The Godfather of Poker

Born August 10, 1933
Died May 14, 2023
Wife Louise Brunson
Children Todd and Pamela
First poker win 1972, World Series of Poker, 3rd place, $32,000
Biggest poker win 2004, Legends of Poker, $1,198,260
Total Poker winnings $6,176,736
Last poker game 2018, World Series of Poker, $43,963
WSOP bracelets 10
World Poker Tour Title 1
Net worth $75 million
Instagram wosp_doyle_brunson (looks fake)
Twitter @TexDolly (remembering)

 

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