Doyle Brunson is a class act

Doyle Brunson is a class act

July 03, 2018 3:00 AM


Poker pro Doyle Brunson was not intent on being branded as a legend when he arrived in Las Vegas from Texas nearly fifty years ago.

He was merely interested in finding some good poker action. He found it… and has been content to not venture far from local tables since then, except for those occasions when he hears of a good gamble somewhere else.

But the truth is Brunson’s presence in Vegas has been enough to bring others to Vegas, people like the Texas banker with lots of cash and an appetite for high stakes action with Brunson and anyone else with the willingness to play big enough to give lesser players a nose bleed.

That’s the thing about poker, Brunson once told me several years ago. Most people will never play NFL football, but anyone can get into the World Series of Poker as long he has the money in his pocket.

Brunson might have said something about the skills necessary to play the game well but the fact is Brunson has done much to improve the poker table skills of players he will never meet. More about that aspect of his life in a moment.

The fact is the soft-spoken 84-year-old Texas native turned casual players into serious players with his 1978 “Power Systems” book that was easy enjoyable reading while it talked about poker the way it is played by people who were serious and successful with their approaches to whatever the game might be.

So why did he write a book that is something like Babe Ruth telling ordinary players how to hit home runs?

He grins, “There weren’t enough good players around; the action was terrible.”

He had the confidence he could handle whatever opportunities came his way.

Brunson has the personality of a super host. He is easy to approach and treats all questions from reporters (like myself) as though they required serious reflection.

He had his own internet cardroom for a time, and was labeled the “most influential” person in the poker world by a magazine that aimed its content at readers who had a serious view of the gambling business.

Yes, Brunson has been on top of the poker world for years, loaning money to dozens of players to help them in action during those years when he and partner Eric Drache ran the cardroom at the old Silverbird.

But the time may have come to hang it up, so to speak, and spend more time closer to home with his wife of more than 50 years. He said as much during the current World Series of Poker, an event he has participated in since it began in 1970. He’s won a dozen events there including two victories in the $10,000 buy-in final event.

He’s a certified legend but not even legends are interested in going on forever.

“I’ll still play some,” he says, “but I’m through with the grind of the hours of tournament action.”