Doyle Brunson, Poker Champion Known as ‘Texas Dolly,’ Dies at 89

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Doyle Brunson, Poker Champion Known as ‘Texas Dolly,’ Dies at 89


“As a postgraduate guide to the intricacies of high-level, high-stakes poker the work has no equal,” wrote the English poet Al Alvarez, who covered the 1981 World Series of Poker for The New Yorker. “The grammar may be shaky in places, the punctuation baroque, but the voice is distinct and the message is clear: aggression, constant aggression.”

Mr. Brunson was inducted into the World Series of Poker Hall of Fame in 1988.

After steady growth, poker had its cultural moment in 1998 with the release of the film “Rounders,” in which Matt Damon’s poker-playing character recites Brunson maxims while wielding a copy of “Super System.” That same year, poker became a late-night and cable television staple, and Mr. Brunson became a familiar figure.

Competitive into his later years, Mr. Brunson won a 2004 legends event on the World Poker Tour and $1.2 million. In 2005, he won a hold ’em event for his 10th World Series title.

A few days earlier, his son Todd, also a professional player, had captured an event, making them the first father and son to each win at the World Series. Mr. Brunson reached the fourth day of the 2013 Poker Players Championship, though he confessed that the game was taking its toll.

“Sometimes, when I’ve been playing for a couple of days, I get into a position where I’m uncomfortable,” he said. “My leg, say, starts hurting a little bit. But I don’t change position. I’ll sit there and let it hurt, just as a reminder to make myself play good.”

Mr. Brunson thought that his legacy would be “the fact that I’ve played longer at the high levels than anybody else ever did,” he said in 2003. “I mean, I’ve been playing at the high levels — the biggest games I could find — ever since I was 23 years old.”

But he would not milk his age for sympathy.

“Would I like to win the World Series again for the old guys?” he said in 2002. “Nah, I’d like to win it for ol’ Doyle.”



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