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WSOP: History -- 1976 Recap

Doyle Brunson Wins the World Championship


A legacy was cemented in history at the World Series of Poker in 1976 as Doyle Brunson won two gold bracelets. His first came in the deuce-to-seven lowball preliminary event, while the second crowned him world champion when he won the main event. Brunson was the last member of his three-man road team to not win the world championship. “Amarillo Slim” Preston had captured his title in 1972, while “Sailor” Roberts had won in 1975. Brunson might have felt a little excluded as his two fellow Texans held bragging rights, but that only lasted for one year. Doyle, as well as many other players, had always measured their success as a poker player by how much money they had won. But the WSOP changed all of that, and to this day tournament titles are an important piece of almost every top player’s resume. “Since I felt the need to be there anyway, I kept pondering how to win,” said Doyle.

Doyle BrunsonFourteen players remained after day two of the main event that year, and once again the Texans held a strong presence in the remaining field. The nine lone star state representatives included former world champions, Roberts and Johnny Moss, Brunson, and a little known car dealer named Jesse Alto from Corpus Christi. Alto was born in Mexico, grew up in Israel, and eventually settled in Texas. Although Alto was a car dealer nine-to-five his true love was poker. He was a true grinder that was able to play long periods of time without rest, which brought about memories of Nick “The Greek” Dandalos. Alto was also a true steamer who was unable to control his emotions when the cards didn’t fall his way. Brunson knew this, and he was waiting to expose this weakness in his opponent when action got down to heads up for the win.

Alto had lost some close pots in succession, which brought about the signs of a storm front in his demeanor. Brunson sensed this and he felt that he had to srike while the iron was hot. He was dealt two cards and then looked down at them 10 2. Alto bet pre-flop and Brunson called. The flop brought A J 10, which gave Alto two pair with A J in the hole. Alto led out with a bet, but it wasn’t large enough to force Brunson out, so he called. The turn card was the 2 and Brunson moved all in. Alto called and the river card fell 10 to make Brunson a world champion. He received $220,000 and a gold bracelet for the win (the second of 10). A poker patriarch was born.

1976 WSOP Results

WSOP history article links:
Preludes - 1970 - 1971 - 1972 - 1973 - 1974 - 1975

Quote Source: “All-In: The (Almost) Entirely True Story of the World Series of Poker,” by Jonathan Grotenstein and Storms Reback