I don’t know about you, but a few times a month, some brothers and I host some friendly poker nights. And by friendly, I mean filled with unnecessary amounts of whiskey, constant arguing, and a 110% chance of everyone being called a “fucking asshole” at some point in the night. So, sure we get a little rowdy, and a few of us make some money, but it’s all in good fun. It was at one of these nights where I first heard of Doyle Brunson, and I have since then come to embrace him as one of my heroes.
Most of the guys on the World Series of Poker tour are complete tools. They’ve never done anything productive with their lives, and get by simply on the fact that their lack of social skills made them better at learning percentages instead of the feel of a woman’s vagina.
Doyle Brunson was a totally different story. He was born in West Texas during the Depression and played basketball because there was fuck-else to do in 1930’s West Texas (or modern-day West Texas for that matter). He ran the one-mile event during his offseason so he would “have something to do.” When I look for “something to do,” it usually involves booze and croquet; Doyle’s version was winning the state track meet with a time of 4:43. He was later drafted by the Minneapolis Lakers (makes sense considering the lack of lakes in Los Angeles) while still in college, but blew out his knee before he graduated.
Most people with promising athletic skill who lose it in an injury tend to go on to do nothing with their lives and blame everything on the injury (see: Boobie Miles). So what did Doyle do after losing a lucrative sporting career? He worked a shitty sales job for two weeks, decided he wanted more money and just switched into another lucrative career: poker. The 1950s poker scene was pretty much exactly like an online poker site, except with criminals, constant police raids, and a high likelihood of getting shot. Doyle has seen three people die at poker tables. I’ll repeat that. While Phil Hellmuth complains about the air conditioning, Doyle Brunson saw a dude sitting next to him get shot in the fucking head. Doyle’s been in dozens of brawls, been robbed countless times mid-game, and been arrested nearly as often as he’s won.
Poker soon became more respectable and, more importantly, more legal. So what
did Doyle do with his skills in this newly popular game? Oh, he only won ten WSOP bracelets and became the first player to earn $1 million. No big deal. A few best-selling books and more millions of dollars later, Doyle Brunson is now considered one of the best to play the game, and easily the most badass.
So what does this have to do with us? Well, it puts your poker playing in perspective, it gives us a new perspective on “that old guy with the cowboy hat,” but most of all, it’s just a cool fucking story, so enjoy it.