The 20 Most Influential People in Poker - #13 - Doyle Brunson
The lucky #13 spot on the 20 Most Influential People in Poker list goes to the one player that truly transcends the game.
Like Mohammad Ali in boxing, Jack Nicklaus in golf, Babe Ruth in baseball, Joe Namath in football or Michael Jordan in basketball, this player is probably one of the most recognizable poker players of all time.
That's right, #13 is Doyle Brunson.
Known as "The Godfather of Poker," Brunson is usually the first name that comes to mind when the term "poker greatness" is spoken.
Most anyone that follows poker knows Doyle's story. Two-time WSOP Main Event winner, first player to win $1 million in poker tournaments, 10-time WSOP bracelet winner, author of the poker bible "Super System," and so much more.
If not for a "tough break" in life, Brunson's story may never had happened. Brunson was an aspiring professional athlete and was being seriously looked at by the Minneapolis Lakers.
Brunson was unloading some sheetrock on a summer job and a freak accident dropped a ton of sheetrock on his leg, breaking it in two places. This effectively ended any chance of his playing basketball professionally, and so Doyle got his degree in education.
Soon after he graduated, he started a job as a salesman and was invited to a card game on his first day on the job. That night he won a month's salary and that win convinced him to give up his job and turn professional.
And what a career it has been. From illegal road gambler to Vegas legend, and now poker immortal.
For his live tournament career, Brunson has won over $6 million, but it is safe to say that he has won and lost countless millions at the cash-game tables. Doyle has played with all the greats in history, including his late best friend Chip Reese, a man who Brunson claims is the greatest of all time.
If Reese is the greatest poker player of all-time, Brunson has definitely got to the most recognizable player of all-time. It does not matter what poker program or event comes out, if Texas Dolly is in attendance, that is who the fans want to see.
If a new poker program comes out, at some point, you will likely see Brunson on the show. He is just that iconic.
One of the most astounding facts about Brunson is that the man can still play the game at a high level at the age of 77.
It is true that Doyle has lost a step or two from when he was a younger man. Howard Lederer had a great line regarding the aging Brunson. He compared an aging Brunson to an aging Michael Jordan. He stated that while he may have lost a step or two, he is still better than 70% of the people out there.
Poker allows fans something that you cannot see in other sports.
You can't see Joe Namath go out and play in the Super Bowl anymore. Michael Jordan finally became too old to play in the NBA. By the time Babe Ruth reached his 40s, all he had left was a sideshow act that the Dodgers tried to use.
However, you can still see Brunson play poker. If you are lucky enough, or can afford to play high stakes, you can even play poker with him.
It isn't known how much longer that Doyle will still be splashing around the poker tables, but you can be assured that as long as he is still competent, you will see him at the tables. As such, Doyle will continue to be an influence on the game.
As such, the whole of poker will benefit from his prescience in the game. There will never be another Doyle Brunson, nor should there be.
14. Matt Savage
15. Phil Hellmuth
16. Annie Duke
17. Dan Harrington
18. Linda Johnson
19. Brian Balsbaugh
20. Chris Moneymaker