Doyle Brunson, the Granddaddy of poker, answer our questions: “I think it marked the moment when I was recognised as a world-class player”

With ten WSOP bracelets and a hand named after him, there’s only one granddaddy of poker, step forward Doyle Brunson

What’s your game?

Texas Hold’em is probably my favourite [Brunson won the WSOP Hold’em Main Event in 1977 and ’78] but it’s close – I like Lowball too. It’s an old Southern game we used to play when I was young. It’s got a lot of intrigue to it but it’s not as complex as Hold’em. It’s actually a simple game, but hard to master.


My ordinary stakes are $4000 and $8000 limit. We play no-limit Hold’em, no-limit Lowball, pot-limit Omaha and a mix of other games. We play at the Bellagio mostly. There’s a nucleus of pros and then there’s guys that come into town wanting to play higher than we normally do. The right people have to be in town for that kind of game.

Favourite hand?

I remember it well. It was a hand against Johnny Moss very early in my career where I called a big bet with a Jack-high with no pair after the cards were out. I called that bet and won the pot. I think it marked the moment when I was recognised as a world-class player. It was probably 50 years ago.

Ever been cheated out of a pot?

Many times. Back in the old days it was almost accepted that people would do whatever they’d do to win. Even if you got caught people would laugh about it. I think I was lucky that I didn’t have to do that as I won anyway. If I hadn’t been good enough then who knows? You don’t until you’ve walked in someone else’s shoes.

Dream heads-up?

I’d like to go up against Johnny Moss to see exactly how good he really was. I was a young man when I thought Johnny was at the top. He was from the era where it was almost legal to cheat and it could be that the reason he was so good was that he was cheating. I know he was good – I learnt most of my techniques watching him.

Best upcoming player?

I think my son Todd is the best upcoming player out there. He’s not exactly a kid any more – he’s 36 – but if I was going to bet my money on someone it would be him and Phil Ivey. I think they’re the two best young players, but when people ask who’s going to be the next great player I tell them to come back in 20 years and see who’s still around.

And you’re an Essex boy?

The first Brunson that I found in the States was in 1625. In other words, the Brunsons had to have come over on the Mayflower and they came from Essex. I told a taxi driver that I wanted to go to Essex, he said ‘Where?’ and I said ‘Essex’. He had to explain that Essex was a county. I thought it was a town. And now I hear about the Essex women…

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