Doyle Bronson, the most prominent legend in the world of poker, passed away on May 14 at the age of 89. [Image: Flickr.com / World Poker Tour]
Unparalleled in poker history
Doyle Brunson, the first poker player everyone put on a Mount Rushmore game, passed away Sunday, May 14 at the age of 89. The “Godfather of Poker” was one of the pioneers of poker, helping to bring the game out of miserable Texas back into the rooms and light as a legitimate form of entertainment.
His son, fellow Booker Hall of Famer Todd Brunson, confirmed the news Sunday night:
He played “Texas Dolly” in his first World Series of Poker in 1970, eventually winning 10 gold bracelets in his career, two of them for the main event. Only Phil Hellmuth, at 16, has more bracelets. A fixture at top cash games in Las Vegas for half a century, even in his 80s, Bronson was both intimidating and soft-spoken at the same time. for him super / system It is perhaps the most important poker book ever written.
His first WSOP, his last bracelet
But you can read about Doyle Brunson’s poker achievements anywhere. I want to take a moment to talk about what he meant to me early in my poker career. After getting my MBA in 2004, I ended up with a consulting job with a bad company. I quit after a few months and was fortunate enough to join an online poker affiliate to help launch their own poker news site.
Learn to swim by jumping into the pool
Within just two months of starting, I traveled to Las Vegas to cover the World Series of Poker. I had watched poker on TV and played pickup games online, but other than that, knew very little about the poker industry or its community. But there I was in Rio, media armband around my neck, learning to swim by jumping in the pool.
But I knew who Doyle Bronson was. Wandering around the tables, taking pictures and taking notes, I took every opportunity I could to linger beside his tables and those of other famous professionals, as if I could soak up knowledge just by sharing the same atmosphere.
I spent a lot of my time in the stands at the final tables so that I could report on it once it was over. So there I was in late June, sitting there with my notebook and the fancy new camera my boss had bought me once we realized my little point-and-shoot wasn’t cutting it, watching Doyle Bronson compete for the final table in the $5,000 Short Handed competition. No Limit Hold’em event. Going into the 2005 WSOP, he is tied with Johnny Chan for the all-time lead in bracelets with nine, but Chan scored his 10th in that series to advance.
Although there were powerhouses like Jason Lester, Minh Li, Scotty Nguyen, and Lien Flack on the table, everyone, myself included, was on Doyle’s side. And he sure beat Ly’s competition to win his tenth and final WSOP bracelet. Even though I was new to the world of poker, I felt the importance of the moment. Using my super-duper camera, I snapped as many pictures as I could of Bronson as he held the bracelet in triumph, hoping I’d get something suitable for my article.
Doyle Bronson gave me confidence
That summer, I also began writing for the Canadian poker player The Journal, along with my media outlet, agreed to share the photos I took with the Journal. To my great delight, an article I wrote for the WSOP was the cover story and even more so, one of my pictures of Doyle Bronson made the cover. In the grand scheme of my career and the industry, it didn’t matter—the article wasn’t very good, no one knew I took the photo, and if they did, they wouldn’t care—but it was a proud moment for me, one that made me feel like I belonged.
The following year, Brunson was signing autographs one day at the Doyle’s Room, the room near the main poker room at the WSOP where fans could sign up for his online poker room and get some gifts. In fact, I had the aforementioned issue of the magazine with me in Las Vegas, so being a non-professional “journalist,” I decided to stand in line and sign it.
Getting Doyle Bronson approved as a 30 year old still freshman poker writer means everything to me.
When I handed the magazine to Doyle, I told him I had taken the cover photo. He stopped, examined it, and said in a soft Texas accent, “That’s really good. Did you take this?” Then proceeded to take a moment to turn the pages, nodding approvingly. He even had me speak briefly with his publicist, who took my information. He didn’t come. Something of that, but getting Doyle Bronson’s endorsement as a poker writer still a 30-year-old rookie means everything to me.To have a legend like him I know I exist, even for a minute, made my summer.
Doyle Bronson meant a lot of things to a lot of people. For me, in those early days of my poker industry career, he was the one who told me I belonged.