Godfather of Poker: Doyle Brunson’s bio in new book

Nov 3, 2009 5:08 PM
Book Reviews by Howard Schwartz |

Good poker biographies are rare, great ones even rarer. Doyle Brunson’s autobiography is that rare exception – brilliantly compiled and detailed, well-written and organized. It will forever be read as an honest record of an exceptional individual and a true pioneer of the game.

Titled The Godfather of Poker (384 pages, illustrated, hardbound, $26.95), this was a long time coming because of the amount of background, memories, research and fact-checking needed. (Mike Cochran is credited with much of the book as editor.) The recollections, the details of the people, the places and history he and Brunson recall so many years later are an exceptional feat. In a way, perhaps that’s why Brunson is so revered, respected and considered an icon.

What’s amazing, beyond Brunson’s skills (he won the World Series of Poker twice), is his memory for detail, about colorful, classy, sometimes devious people, the hands he played, the circumstances he found himself in, his family and what he did to survive in the toughest and best of times. But this isn’t just about Brunson. It includes his adventures in book publishing (Super/System, published in 1978, which became a landmark by which other books would forever be measured), how the game has changed, a look at the impact of television and online poker, this new generation of players, Mob guys, cheats, characters all have a place in Brunson’s life and work.

Perhaps the most poignant sections involve his family—life, death, proud achievements on a personal level. Brunson is a true survivor in more ways than one, and he’s respected for not only what he achieved at the tables, but the way he overcame personal tragedies.

Brunson met them all—the greats, the near greats, the shifty characters who drifted in and out of smoky poker rooms and crap tables. Through his eyes and detailed memory, you’ll meet Stu Ungar, Jack Straus, Shorty Jenkins, the Binion family, Chip Reese, Archie Karas, Jimmy Chagra, Titanic Thompson, Major Riddle Johnny Moss and Amarillo Slim Preston.

This book and more are available at Gambler’s Book Shop. The store’s website is www.gamblersbook.com; or call toll free at 1-800-522-1777.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Howard Schwartz