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Poker Player Profile: Doyle Brunson

Early Life

Doyle Brunson is an American native born in Longworth, Fisher County in Texas on August 10, 1933. He was born in a family of three in a small county with a population of just one hundred. He was a young, promising athlete who participated in long distances in the nearby larger towns. He also became part of the All-State Texas basketball team. Despite his intense passion in basketball rather than running, he successively participated in the Texas Interscholastic Track Meet in 1950. He set a record of 4:43 in a mile.

As was his custom to undertake some casual jobs of unloading some sheetrock during the summer, he unfortunately suffered a knee injury leaving it broken in two places. His dreams for becoming a professional basketball player died off during his two years in a cast. Doyle still requires a crutch to get around due to the injury. His focus took a different turn from athletics to career path becoming an administrative educator after acquiring a bachelor and a master’s degree.

Poker Beginnings

Before the knee injury, Doyle had a successful history playing the five-card draw. During his two years in a cast, he concentrated more on poker, which he in turn managed to pay his medical expenses with. As soon as he graduated, he had a job as a business machine salesman; however, in the very first day of the job, he had an invitation to play a seven-card stud game and ended up earning more than his month’s salary in a span of three hours. He immediately left the company he worked with and became a professional poker player.

Turning Pro

Together with his friend Dwayne Hamilton, Brunson’s poker career began on Exchange Street, Fort Worth, Texas, where they were involved in illegal poker games. In due course, they started penetrating Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, engaging in major games as they met other professionals such as Amarillo Slim and Sailor Roberts. During his time, poker was not a socially conventional career path and has admitted that several times he had guns pulled on him, beaten and even robbed.

A few years later, the two friends pooled together their entire bankrolls and travelled to Las Vegas where they lost it all. Brunson decided to settle in Las Vegas where he currently plays at the World Series of Poker since its formation in 1970. He plays yearly in the Main Event as well as in other bracelet awarding poker tournaments.

Major Wins

He is looked upon by many as the world’s best poker player, largely after being crowned WSOP Main Event champion in 1976 and again in 1977. He holds ten WSOP bracelets together with his competitor and rival, Johnny Chan.

Doyle confirmed that age is no factor when it comes to poker with a win in the 2004 Legends of Poker World Poker Tour event in which he collected almost $1.2 million. This was the toughest WPT fields at that time.

He occasionally plays high stakes poker cash games together with other outstanding poker players at Bellagio in Las Vegas among other casinos.


A big part of his fame originates from his book ‘Super System’, which is regarded as the premier poker book ever published, essential for all poker aspirants. Together with Gus Hansen and Gardener James, Doyle is among the three pioneers to be inaugurated in the WPT Poker Walk of Fame.

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