Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Usain Bolt. What do these athletes have in common? They are all widely considered the greatest athletes in their sports, the GOAT as many would call them (Greatest of All Time). It’s a solemn day in the poker world, as the man who is widely considered the GOAT of poker, Doyle Brunson, has passed away at age 89 after battling a number of health issues. The news was announced on Twitter by Brian Balsburgh.
Passing this on:— Brian Balsbaugh (@Balsbaugh) May 15, 2023
“It is with a heavy heart we announce the passing of our father, Doyle Brunson. He was a beloved Christian man, husband, father and grandfather. We’ll have more to say over the coming days as we honor his legacy. Please keep Doyle and our family in your…
Brunson has been a poker legend since the 1970s when he won the WSOP Main Event in back-to-back years in 1976 and 1977. In fact, Brunson’s first six cashes were all at the WSOP and were all first-place finishes, with the exception of a 3rd place showing at the 1972 Main Event. Overall, Brunson had 10 WSOP bracelets to his name, still good for second of all time with Phil Ivey and Johnny Chan, only behind the 16 bracelets of Phil Hellmuth. His 10 bracelets can be seen below.
Brunson is so famous that he has a hand named after him, and it’s a rather inconspicuous 10-2 offsuit. This is named “The Doyle Brunson” because it is the hand that he won both of his WSOP Main Event titles with. Brunson has said before that this hand made him so much money over the years because high-stakes pros and amateurs alike love to try to bluff him when they are holding that hand. He’s also famous for writing the books Super System 1 and 2, often considered “the poker bibles” by many.
Brunson was still a massive star when poker started to boom in 2003 after Chris Moneymaker won the Main Event. Brunson was a key fixture on the show High Stakes Poker, and was still competing with the best in the world on the tournament circuit, winning his only WPT title in 2004 at the Legends of Poker for nearly $1,200,000. Overall, Brunson won nearly $6,200,000 in live tournaments and likely won multiples of that in cash games throughout his storied career.
Tributes immediately came pouring in from poker’s biggest names, honoring the fallen legend in a way that he very much deserved.
I’m so lucky I had the opportunity to truly understand Doyle’s greatness by sitting across the table from him.— Phil Galfond (@PhilGalfond) May 15, 2023
“Legend” feels inadequate.
We don’t have a word for what Doyle Brunson is to poker.
Rest in Peace ♥️ pic.twitter.com/IjCDrNG96c
Man, really sad day in the poker world with the passing of Doyle Brunson. The man WAS poker – the ultimate icon of the game, who likely spent more days at the felt than any other person in history.— Liv Boeree (@Liv_Boeree) May 15, 2023
Rest in peace sir ❤️ pic.twitter.com/DLsJNPisZ6
Yes, Doyle Brunson was the Legend of Poker. But to me, he was more of a father. I will miss him dearly. My prayers go out to Louise, Pam and Todd.— Jennifer Harman (@REALJenHarman) May 15, 2023
I Love You Doyle. Rest in Peace to the Greatest!!
Woke up in Europe to 100’s of messages, you can tell the legend of a man by the impact he’s made on so many and certainly he’s done that for me and my family in my 30 years in this game. Rest in peace Doyle Brunson! 😪❤️🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/e9YMCnYYz3— Matt Savage (@SavagePoker) May 15, 2023
While Doyle Brunson still occasionally played at Bobby’s Room and other cash games in recent years, he had not played at the WSOP in a few years. His last live tournament score came in 2018 when he finished 6th in the $10,000 2-7 Lowball Event for $44,000. As PokerGO commentator Jeff Platt pointed out, he did not retire from the WSOP because he wasn’t good enough at poker anymore. It was because family was always the most important thing in Brunson’s life.
Remember that Doyle Brunson's first and only retirement from the WSOP came not because the game had passed him by, but because he needed to be with his wife, Louise.— Jeff Platt (@jeffplatt) May 15, 2023
A devoted family man who just so happened to have the biggest impact on poker. May his memory be a blessing.
The poker legend was born in 1933 in Longworth, Texas, and he was survived by his wife Louise, and his children Todd Brunson, a poker Hall of Famer in his own right, and Pamela Brunson. Brunson was an elite athlete in high school, but he blew out his knee and was forced to fuel his competitive fire in another way. That is how he found poker, and the rest of the poker world is grateful for that because Brunson left a legacy unlike anyone else can in the poker world.
RIP DOYLE BRUNSON – 1933-2023