It’s a big year in the Brunson household, as the Godfather of poker himself is turning 90 years old this August! I know some of you may have already thought he was in the triple digits, such is his longevity in the sport, but we’ve got a little while until we can celebrate his centenary. As well as a milestone birthday, 2023 is going to be a busy year for Doyle, with the release of an audiobook and a documentary on his life on the cards for the veteran poker player.
On The Felt
Having retired from “professional” poker, you likely won’t see Doyle playing in the big tournament series anymore outside of the Main Event. However, he’s always willing to make a TV appearance if the cash games are juicy enough, and we’re sure we’ll see him a couple more times this year. In fact, it was the recent WPT cash game with Brunson, Ivey, and Hellmuth which sparked a Twitter thread from Brian Balsbaugh, which became the inspiration for this article.
The thread tackled the ever-increasing discussion about why it’s such a big deal to watch Doyle in a cash game. After all, he’s nearly 90 and has to be past his best; the game’s surely passed him by at this point, right? Well, Brian and I would say wrong! Doyle has been playing in the highest-stakes games for over 50 years, bumping shoulders with the brightest talents of each generation. How do you think he’s managed to stay in these games?
Doyle himself will tell you that it’s certainly not his business ventures that have kept him playing for so long. It’s hard to believe that a man blessed with so much poker talent would have such a blind eye when it comes to business, but it’s true – only someone as naive in business in Bruson would fund expeditions to find the Titanic and the Loch Ness Monster! So, if he couldn’t make his money elsewhere, he had to rely on his prodigious poker-playing talent.
And believe me when I say prodigious is the right word. No one could even dream of staying atop the poker world for as long as Doyle has, particularly when the game has changed so dramatically since the time he started playing. Just think, Doyle started playing poker before the WSOP was even a thing! He’s been around for the start of the WSOP, the rise of No Limit Hold’em as the dominant game, the computer era of the 90s and 00s, and the solver era of the 2010s. You simply cannot be playing and winning in the highest stakes games for so long unless you’re a once-in-a-generation talent, and that’s exactly what Doyle is.
While he may have officially retired from the sport, I don’t doubt that you could put Doyle in almost any game around the world, and he’d be a winner. How many players in the world could hope to say that as they approach their 90th birthday?
This is why Doyle needs to continue to be celebrated, both on and off the felt. Luckily for all of us, there’s plenty of Brunson content to consume in 2023. We’d be shocked if Poker Go didn’t broadcast something special for his big day, so look out for some exciting content this summer!
The Godfather of Poker Audio Book
One of the big projects slated for release this year is the Godfather of Poker audiobook. Fourteen years after the initial release, there will finally be an audiobook version of the classic poker book detailing the trials and tribulations of Doyle’s life. Not many players can say they’ve survived a cancer diagnosis, a pistol aimed at their forehead, and multiple attacks by mobsters after a poker game gone wrong, but Doyle is one of them!
Doyle is truly a one-of-a-kind personality in poker; for all his talents on the felt, part of what made him so successful is his sparkling personality, something that shines through in this book. If you don’t know the full story of Doyle Brunson, I’d heartily recommend this book, as there is no better accounting of his entry into poker (spurred on by a freak injury that curtailed his chance of playing for the L.A. Lakers) and his journey through the sometimes dark and dangerous world of professional gambling.
However, if you haven’t yet bought a copy, you may want to wait for the release of the audiobook so you can hear Texas Dolly himself read it to you in the Texas drawl we all know and love. Brunson started narrating the audiobook at the end of 2020 after an audio studio was moved into his home. While there isn’t an official release date as of yet, we can expect to see this project available sometime in 2023; the sooner, the better, as far as we’re concerned!
Texas Dolly Documentary
If you prefer to have a visual element to your content, you’ll be thrilled to hear that an official Texas Dolly documentary is planned for release in 2023. While we may not know much about it yet, we’re stoked about this news and think it’s way past due!
Doyle broke the news on his Twitter account back in 2021 that a documentary about his life was in production. The only piece of information is that the documentary will be made by the same people who did the iconic Michael Jordan documentary, The Last Dance. From this, we can assume that the documentary will be in a serial format and, judging by the quality of The Last Dance, that it will be beautifully shot, well crafted, and incredibly informative.
Given the staying power that Doyle has had in poker and his early days as a track and basketball star, the team could easily make dozens of episodes detailing Doyle’s life! However, if they stick to The Last Dance’s format, it’s likely that we’ll see ten episodes – but we can always hope for more.
As we understand it, shooting has already begun for this documentary, with Brian revealing that Doyle has sat for hours of interviews in the studio they made up in his home, so we’re all hoping that the full release won’t be too far away. Heck, we’d even settle for a trailer at this point to get us hyped up for the Year of Brunson!
Sometimes, it’s easy to take for granted the legends that walk amongst us until they’re gone. We see it all the time in sports; we only truly appreciate the legends of the sport after they’ve retired and we realise what they gave us. No one ever really retires from poker, so we need to fully appreciate Doyle while he’s still here. That’s why I agree with Brian, 2023 should be the Year of Doyle, so let’s all take this opportunity to celebrate the life of the greatest poker player to have ever played the game.
Images courtesy of PokerGo