Doyle Brunson, widely regarded as the most legendary card player in poker history with a career spanning nearly seven decades, has passed away. The poker hall of famer was 89 years old.
Brunson’s death was confirmed by his son Todd, who was at his father’s side in a Las Vegas hospital.
“Yes, I’m sorry. It’s true. RIP Doyle.” Todd Brunson wrote on Twitter. “Thank you all for your concern, but at this point I have to ask everyone to respect my family’s privacy.”
“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our father, Doyle Brunson,” the Brunson family added in a statement. “He was a beloved Christian, husband, father and grandfather. We will have more to say in the coming days as we honor his legacy. Please keep Doyle and our family in your prayers. May he rest in peace.”
Brunson, known as the Godfather of Poker, was born on August 10, 1933 in Longworth, Texas. He was an exceptional athlete, excelling in both track and field and basketball. In fact, he was being watched by the Minneapolis Lakers’ NBA before a devastating work injury ended his sporting career.
He initially turned his attention to teaching, but realized he could make a lot more money, in addition to his hours, playing poker.
After years on the road with “Amarillo” Slim and “Sailor” Roberts, playing dangerous and illegal games often organized by members of organized crime, Brunson has finally settled in Las Vegas.
Was there in the early 1970’s World Series of Poker and went on to win an incredible ten gold bracelets, which ranks second all-time with Johnny Chan and Phil Ivey, behind Phil Hellmuth’s 16 wins. His run included back-to-back main event victories in 1976 and 1977, in which he won both events with a 10-2 record.
Brunson was also the author of Super/Systemwhich was considered the bible of poker when he self-released it in 1978.
Despite his age, Brunson remained active in the poker world until his death. A few years ago he stated that he intended to continue playing, “as long as I can get to the table”.
“It was a great life,” Brunson said Card player in 2018. “I was consumed with being an athlete when I was young and was about to make basketball my career. When I broke my leg, that was it. I turned to poker to still be able to compete, and it was great. You can’t find many things where an 84 year old can still compete with 30 year olds. It meant a lot to me. My competitive nature drove me to keep fighting, and poker was the vehicle that allowed me to do so. I’m just grateful for that. I have had many blessings in my life, survived many difficult times. But I’m still here.
Although he admitted that he no longer had the stamina for tournament play and didn’t want to leave his wife for long, he still played regular cash games, including PokerGO’s High stakes poker show. In the summer of 2022, he was signed as a brand ambassador for the Poker World Tour.
In recent years, a handful of film and documentary projects about Brunson’s life have been announced. In March he attended the official opening of the Horseshoe on the Las Vegas Strip, which is the new home of the WSOP.
Brunson is survived by his wife Louise, whom he married in 1962, as well as his children Todd and Pamela.
The poker world reacts
Rest in peace to the greatest legend of all. Thanks for being the consummate gamer and gentleman. No one will ever take your place. pic.twitter.com/riE35PCrQh
— WSOP – World Series of Poker (@WSOP) May 15, 2023
Poker has lost its greatest legend today: @TexDolly. He has inspired 3 generations of poker players with his game, his award winning book “Super System” and his fabulous style and grit. Doyle always played hard man he absolutely hated to lose!! Doyle dominated high stakes cash games in Las… pic.twitter.com/L4CKzvzbIF
— phil_hellmuth (@phil_hellmuth) May 15, 2023
There will never be another Doyle Brunson
Doyle was @RadioAmanda favorite player by a mile
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) May 15, 2023
Yes, Doyle Brunson was the legend of poker. But to me he was more of a father. I will miss him a lot. My prayers go out to Louise, Pam and Todd.
I love you Doyle. Rest in peace to the greatest!!
—Jennifer Harman (@REALJenHarman) May 15, 2023
can’t believe this day has come – you will always be held high in our hearts, the man, the myth, the legend and THE GODFATHER of poker baby! Mr. Brunson, you made poker what it is, baby! thank you for what you give to all of us baby! RIP Mr. Doyle Brunson THE GODFATHER FROM POKER pic.twitter.com/TiwzjQfhCi
— Scotty Nguyen (@TheScottyNguyen) May 15, 2023
I’m so fortunate that I’ve had the opportunity to truly understand Doyle’s greatness by sitting across the table from him.
“Legend” seems inadequate.
We don’t have a word to describe what Doyle Brunson is to poker.
Rest in peace pic.twitter.com/IjCDrNG96c
— Phil Galfond (@PhilGalfond) May 15, 2023
I first met Doyle 15 years ago. He was kind, funny and kind.
The last time I had the honor of playing #poker was with him last year, and that is how I shall remember him: sharp as ever and kept me in awe of his presence to the very end. Legends never die.#RIPDoyle pic.twitter.com/uJ3e3UKAjy
— Maria Ho (@MariaHo) May 15, 2023
Doyle Brunson is dead. He was and remains the greatest poker legend. Personally, happy memories of good times and adventures help soothe my intense sadness, as I hope it does for his family and friends around the world as well. Doyle was 89 years old.
— Mike Caro (@MikeCaro) May 15, 2023
The only man I think I’ve ever withheld a picture of because I was in awe of being at the same table with him. Rest in peace Doyle. pic.twitter.com/MpjAtf2AqA
— Ben Lamb (@BenbaLamb) May 15, 2023
During the Big Game there was a rodeo convention next door. The air conditioning was on full blast to prevent flies from entering the studio.
Someone said it was a bit cold. Doyle (blocked a bunch): ‘Well, I’m hot as fucking toast.’
Glad I got to play with him. RIPDoyle. pic.twitter.com/XYC3HuzU6K
— Lex Veldhuis (@LexVeldhuis) May 15, 2023
While I’m not always eager to talk poker to people who don’t play poker, one thing I’ve always been a joy to say is “I played with Doyle Brunson!” when asked if I’ve played with anyone famous. I also found his sharpness at his age incredible. RIP
— Brian Hastings (@brianchastings) May 15, 2023
Your loss is felt by many. Rest in peace to the legendary Doyle Brunson. pic.twitter.com/2VIdvJ0qpz
— Horseshoe Las Vegas (@HorseshoeVegas) May 15, 2023
I cannot put into words right now how inspired I have been by Doyle throughout my adult life and how blessed and honored I have felt to sit at the same table with him day after day and truly get to know the man in a way few ever will. reach. broken heart..
—Scott Seiver (@scott_seiver) May 15, 2023
RIP Doyle. Original legend of the game. I still remember the excitement of my first home game every time T2o was upended. pic.twitter.com/c4u2QaGTwm
— Darren Elias (@DarrenElias) May 15, 2023
The last GG for Doyle Brunson. What a legend. Not only in how good of a player he was, but also in his unmatched longevity in the game and in how nice he was.
If there was ever anyone to look up to for the way they behaved and treated other people, Doyle was like…
— Faraz Jaka (@FarazJaka) May 15, 2023
Remember Doyle Brunson’s first and only retirement since WSOP he hadn’t come because he missed the game, but because he needed to be with his wife, Louise.
A devoted family man who just so happens to have had the biggest impact on poker. May the memory of him be a blessing.
—Jeff Platt (@jeffplatt) May 15, 2023
Condolences to @ToddBrunson and family. Doyle was universally loved and respected in the poker world and competed at the highest level for over 40 years as well as maintaining a strong family life. What a fantastic legacy he leaves us all in the world of poker
— Ari Engel (@AriEngelPoker) May 15, 2023
I will forever be grateful for Doyle’s contributions to the poker world. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for him growing the game. He will always be one of my idols!
The world of poker will never be the same again! #godfatherofpoker
— Joshua Arieh (@JoshuaArieh) May 15, 2023
Chip and Doyle in heaven. I hope they don’t break all the games before it gets there in about 50 years #ripDoyle
— Max Pescatori (@maxpescatori) May 15, 2023
Grew up religiously watching poker. Doyle was a childhood hero who I grew up often pretending to be with a host of others as I dealt 9 hands face up to play against each other in my bedroom. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/G4U9oH8Lur
— Daniel Zack (@Dan__Zack) May 15, 2023
RIP to a true legend, a bridge between three eras of gambling history. Doyle Brunson played poker with Titanic Thompson, who played with Arnold Rothstein. He has seen it all and been in action for over 70 years. pic.twitter.com/POkeBGpomz
—David Hill (@davehill77) May 15, 2023
No matter what happens for the rest of my poker career, I’m lucky to have had the privilege of playing with Doyle Brunson. #ripTexasDolly
— Ada Friedan (@AdamFriedman119) May 15, 2023
Doyle Brunson, 1933-2023
World Series of Poker champion, 1976 and 1977
—Vegas Visual (@vegas_visual) May 15, 2023
— Brian Balsbaugh (@Balsbaugh) May 15, 2023
Woke up in Europe to hundreds of messages, you can tell the legend of one man by the impact he has had on so many and certainly did 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
Hard to believe Doyle is gone. He is ALWAYS been there. She was always accommodating to me. Polite, but with a poker-like ferocity just beneath the surface that made it seem like he was always ready for a game—he probably was. It seems empty to just say “Thank you.” Dude, without him…
— Lon McEachern (@lonmceachern) May 15, 2023
*PokerGO photo credit / Enrique Malfavon