Remembering a Poker Legend: Doyle Brunson

Remembering a Poker Legend: Doyle Brunson

It’s a Wednesday evening circa 2007, and I’m playing some $10/$20 NL or $25/$50 NL at Bellagio.

Out of the blue, the floor walks up to me and says, “Hey Alec, Doyle and his entourage just walked in. They are short on players, and I figured you’d want to play big with them. Are you game?”

Fresh off my victory in the FTOPS Main Event on Full Tilt (then the biggest MTT in online history) for $288K, and having ran up $1M in cash games winnings under my screen name “traheho,” I’m ready to take my shot.

To be honest, I can’t remember if this was 2007 or 2008, but I’m not even sure I was 21 at the time.

But none of that mattered.

I had been a regular at the Bellagio for years using a fake ID, and this was a chance to play high stakes poker with the legend himself.

“Sign me up,” I tell him.

He leads me to the coveted private enclave within the poker room known as Bobby’s Room, the enclosed section in the transparent glass walls.

I’ve long witnessed renowned places gracing those tables since I first started sneaking in to the Bellagio when I was 18, with dreams of playing there alongside them. And now, that day has arrived.

Check out this video where I recount my favorite Doyle Brunson moments.

As I step inside, Doyle is there sporting his signature cowboy hat, along with three Asian businessmen. Just the five of us.

“Howdy”, he greets me with his unmistakable Texas drawl. “We’re playing $200/$400 No Limit. Take a seat.”

I was nervous. Not only was this my first time in Bobby’s Room, but I didn’t bring enough cash. I could never have imagined we’d be playing this big.

“I only brought this,” I admit sheepishly, showing Doyle my rack.

Without flinching, he grabs five red, white, and blue $5,000, known as “flags”, and throws them to me.

“I’m in for half,” he says. “Now let’s play.”

We played five handed all night. His friends (clients?) ordered Opus One and towers of food. We polished off a few bottles.

As the night comes to an end, I’m up a bunch, and pay Doyle his piece.

I have many defects, but one of my strengths is I’m fun, lively, and good company at a poker table.

Evidently, I made a lasting impression on Doyle, not merely as a good card player, but also someone he deems worthy of representing his brand.

In 2009, when the time came to assemble an ambassadorial team for his poker site, Doyle’s Room, I was the first player to be signed.

We called it, ‘The Brunson 10’.

I was lucky to get to spend some time with “The Godfather of Poker” on several occasions following my signing.

One of my favorites was a dinner at the Dorchester in London. We were there to play poker and promote the site, and the entire team came together.

I sat directly next to him, and he shared stories from ‘the good ol days.’

There were many, some of which are recounted in his book, “Poker Wisdom of a Champion”, which I read my during my senior year of high school!

My favorite story anecdote was the time he made so much money playing, that he sent a team to Alaska and beyond to try and find Big Foot and/or the Loch Ness Monster.

Naturally, they came up empty handed.

He imparted some incredible wisdom on me over the years, and I looked up to him as a mentor.

For those eager to learn the most important lesson Doyle imparted to me, I invite you to watch this short video I created a few years ago. It encapsulates the essence of our encounters and carries his incredible spirit.

I’m terribly sad to bid farewell to a true legend. Doyle Brunson will forever hold a special place in the hearts of many, certainly mine included.

It was Doyle who instilled confidence in me to pursue my dream of playing poker professionally. From the moment I started playing when I was 16, I looked up to him as an inspiration and guiding light.

RIP Doyle. Your legacy lives on, and your impact on my life and the poker community at large shall never fade.

Alec Torelli
Welcome! I'm Alec Torelli, founder of Conscious Poker, a training site dedicated to transforming good players into great ones by providing the best poker strategy and mindset content. I've been a professional poker player for 15 years and have over $1,500,000 in tournament winnings and millions more in both live and online cash games. On this site, I share the lessons I learned during my poker career to help you crush the games, optimize your bankroll, make winning decisions and achieve your poker goals.

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