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Doyle Brunson: ‘I Plan On Retiring After This Summer’

by Erik Fast |  Published: Aug 01, 2018


Doyle Brunson is a living legend in the poker world. The 84-year-old is a 10-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner, with two wins in the WSOP main event to his name. He has competed against poker’s best in the highest stakes games in the world for decades now, but the man known as “Texas Dolly” may soon be bringing his incredible career to a close.

Brunson took to Twitter on Monday to say that he was heading down to the Rio to late register before the start of day 2 in the WSOP $10,000 no-limit deuce-to-seven lowball event.

Due to a misunderstanding regarding the schedule of the event, Brunson found himself in the tournament area a bit early with some time to kill. A crowd of fans gathered to ask for photos with the Hall of Famer, some of whom likely learned the game from Brunson’s groundbreaking strategy book Super System.

Card Player was able to catch up with Brunson for a short interview regarding his tweet before he eventually made his way to the tables. During the course of the conversation, Brunson revealed that he plans on retiring from poker later this year, bringing an end to a career that has spanned five decades.

Card Player: You sent out the tweet saying this might be your last WSOP event ever. If that ends up being the case, what is the World Series of Poker going to mean to you?

Doyle Brunson: Originally, all this was just a good way of getting poker players to Las Vegas. That was the original intent of it, and it sure looks like it accomplished that goal.

CP: Back in the 1970s could you have imagined what the WSOP would become today, with multiple huge convention rooms full of thousands and thousands of players, television broadcasts, corporate sponsors and all of this?

A fan grabs a selfie with Doyle BrunsonDB: Of course not! I remember Benny Binion once said, ‘You know, one day we may have over a hundred people in this event.’

CP: From what I understand, you still do play in cash games when you can, but in recent years you have not played many tournaments. What is the reasoning behind cutting back on tournaments?

DB: I’ve been married for 57 years and my wife is not in very good health. She can’t go to sleep until I come home. So I play in cash games just about every day when there is one running, and I can get home at 9:00 or 10:00 at night. But if you play in a tournament and you do well, you can’t get home until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, so that’s what keeps me from playing in them. I think I could still do it, I am physically able to handle the hours. I’ve always had great endurance, which is a blessing, but I feel guilty if I leave the house with my wife in poor health. I feel like I should be there with her, so I think I plan on retiring after this summer and spending all my time with her.

CP: We’re very sorry to hear about your wife’s poor health and wish her the best. If you aren’t playing many tournaments, why did you decide to play this particular event, the $10,000 deuce-to-seven lowball championship, as possibly your last?

DB: It is my favorite game. My son texted me this morning and told me that I could buy in on day 2 in this event. If I got down to the final table, which is probably unlikely, but I could get home late tonight… I already spoke to my wife and she told me to go ahead and play. It’s just kind of a goodbye to the World Series of Poker. I don’t think I’ll play any more… I might play in the $50,000 event.

CP: The WSOP main event, which you’ve won twice, is now quite the marathon. You don’t plan on playing this year?

DB: No, I’m not playing that.

Doyle Brunson on day 2 of the 2018 WSOP $10,000 2-7 NL lowball eventCP: Do you have any thoughts about the state of the game, with how tournament have taken the spotlight? There are now these huge field events like the Colossus and the rise of the super high roller tournaments with massive buy-ins. Like you said, tournaments were originally just a way to get people in the door for cash games, and now they’ve become their own beast. What is your take on the current state of tournament poker?

DB: Obviously there are a lot of good players, and these kids who are focused on no-limit hold’em have taken it to another level. I haven’t played with a lot of the top hold’em players in a straight hold’em game. It would be interesting to play with the very best to see if they really have driven around the old guard. I guess they have, I don’t know exactly what they could learn that I don’t know, but maybe they have. I know Daniel [Negreanu] does really well in these tournaments, and he told me that there is another level to the hold’em game that we didn’t know. He’s been taking lessons to reach the optimum level of play for him. Maybe there is something more, I don’t know, but I do know that hold’em is just a great game.

CP: If you are preparing to bring your poker career to a close soon, as you look back on all that you have accomplished, what does it mean to you to have become a living legend of this game that has earned a place as a great American pastime and more recently grown into an international sensation?

DB: It’s been a great life. I was consumed with being an athlete when I was young and was going to make basketball my career. When I busted my leg, that was the end of that. I turned to poker as a way of being still able to compete, and it’s been great. You can’t find many things in which a guy that is 84 can still compete against guys in their 30s. It has meant a lot to me. My competitive nature drove to keep contending, and poker was the vehicle that allowed me to do that. I’m just thankful for it. I’ve had a lot of blessings in my life, survived a lot of hard times. But, I’m still here.Spade Suit