The folks behind The Last Dance, the 10-part documentary on Micheal Jordan and the championship Chicago Bulls, are pointing their cameras at 10-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Doyle Brunson.
Brunson, 88, is the last in a line of Texas road warriors who feasted on the games fed by roughnecks and oil men and Texas gangsters of the 1950s and 60s. With his hangdog face and white cowboy hat, he possesses one of the most iconic images in poker — as well as plenty of poker hardware, including two WSOP Main Event championships.
Texas Dolly himself broke the news on Twitter.
They are making a documentary about my life now. It has been going on for a month and is going to be a lot longer. Same group that did The Last Dance is doing it. https://t.co/oBWdiwnSX8
— Doyle Brunson (@TexDolly) September 8, 2021
The man, the myth, the legend
Brunson’s 10 WSOP bracelets tie him with Johnny Chan and Phil Ivey in second place on the WSOP all-time leaderboard, putting them each five behind Phil Hellmuth, who makes it his poker life’s work collecting bracelets. Brunson won the 1976 $10,000 WSOP championship for his first bracelet and collected his last one 29 years later in the 2005 $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em short-handed event.
And of course, he’s been a mainstay in some of the highest-stakes games around Las Vegas and the world for four decades.
Texas Dolly has had a long and remarkable poker career. In addition to the millions he won in cash games, he’s also proven to be one of the all-time great WSOP champions, as his results show.
- 1976 $10,000 Championship
- 1977 $5,000 Deuce-to-Seven draw
- 1977 $10,000 Championship
- 1977 $1,000 Seven-Card Stud Split
- 1978 $5,000 Seven-Card Stud
- 1979 $600 Mixed Doubles with Starla Brodie
- 1991 $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em
- 1998 $1,500 Seven-Card Razz
- 2003 $2,000 HORSE
- 2005 No-Limit Short-Handed Hold’em
A man dedicated to poker, competition, and action, Brunson is an obvious choice as a subject for a sports documentary. Before entering the media spotlight in the 70s, Brunson earned his reputation — and a whole lot of money — as part of a poker crew with Amarillo Slim and Sailor Roberts.
That’s three Poker Hall of Fame members, traveling together, pooling their money, sharing notes and strategies, and scooping massive pots. No wonder they had guns pulled on them multiple times while traveling the back roads of Texas. Those incidents, and the stories surrounding them, give the documentarians plenty of material to work through as they chronicle Brunson’s career on his way to becoming one of the faces of poker starting in the 70s.
Relying on Brunson’s own archives, the team can also access UNLV’s collection of fantastic WSOP pictures from the 70s, 80s, and later decades. With the wealth of material available, it’s likely we’ll see some rare photos of Brunson throughout the documentary, as he’s likely the most photographed poker player in history.
Doyle the duffer
A former three-sport athlete, Brunson was a star basketball player during his time at Hardin State Univerity in Abeline, Texas. The Minneapolis Lakers showed interest in Brunson before an accident shattered his leg and ended his professional sports career before it started.
When pro basketball was no longer in the cards for the Texas gambler, he turned to golf, where he earned a reputation as a degenerate on the golf course, which was revealed in an Aug. 15, 1977 Sports Illustrated story.
Called a “‘bonafide golf degenerate” by Jack Binion, the story details his outlandish golf losses and his disregard for nose-bleed gambling. From the Edwin Shrake article:
“Since early May, when he picked up $340,000 at the poker tournament, Brunson has lost enough money playing golf to pay the electric bill for a medium-sized nation. Nobody is supposed to have as much cash money as Doyle is said to have lost on the golf course in the last 2½ months … Brunson is a very high player who has the reputation of never flinching from a bet on the golf course or at the poker table. He has won millions at poker in games with the other king players and all challengers in Las Vegas, which is where you have to win at poker to be a king player.”
No date has been set for the documentary’s release, but we do know for sure that Brunson’s penchant for high-stakes gambling — both on and off the poker table — has surely made him a king of Las Vegas.