Las Vegas, NV
Shortly after midnight, with the camera happy blooming Friday night crowd on the rail, the grizzled gunslinger took over the chiplead with 27 players remaining in the $50,000 HORSE World Championship. With his trademarked white Stetson cowboy hat, Doyle Brunson was sitting plush with the biggest stack in the room and welcomed all challengers as he flashed a wry smile.
One hour earlier, the legendary Texas Dolly limped past the press box with the assistance of his crutch. Brunson made his way out into the hallway and was besieged with autograph and picture requests from dozens of rabid fans who wanted a piece of their hero.
Brunson spent 90% of his break fulfilling requests from fans before he slowly returned to the tournament area and took his seat at Orange #1. Brunson looked more like a tired warrior than the once invincible poker player who everyone in their right mind wanted to avoid.
Then word got out the hobbling hero had taken over the chiplead. That's what made the moment even more special. More sweeter. Much more epic. Almost like Jack Nicklaus' victory at the 1986 Masters or Jimmy Connors magical run at the 1991 U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows.
TJ Cloutier was eliminated on Day 1 but stopped by to ogle Brunson's big stack. Cloutier had been dreaming of boxcars all night, yet wanted to wish one of his oldest foes he best of luck.
There's a fine line between luck and misfortune. On one end of the Amazon Ballroom, Eskimo Clark was milling around the cash game area looking for a buy-in while on the other side of the room, a slew of media surrounded Brunson's table. As Brunson raked in a pot during Stud, reporters from four different countries jotted down the hand. Didn't matter if it was in French, German, Swedish, or English... Texas Dolly as the chipleader was big news.
Brunson held the lead for about an hour before he slipped a bit. He remained in the lead pack for the rest of the night as Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstein, and Michael DeMichele were all gunning for the top spot.
Brunson ended Day 3 in the Top 10 in chips. He'll begin Day 4 in good shape to make another final table at the WSOP. Brunson made the first ever final table in HORSE and he's going to try to make another one once cards are in the air on Saturday.
Has Brunson slipped a bit? He'll be 75 in August. It's been three decades since he won back-to-back world championships. Michael DeMichele and Jame Mackey were not even born yet. The fact that Brunson still competes with the best in the world is a testament to his heart, ability, and experience. However, he is nowhere near the player that dominated every single game that he played in.
Since he won his 10th bracelet in 2005, Brunson has only $1.2 million in tournament earnings according to Hendon Mob. His biggest score during that time frame was third place at a Bellagio WPT event at the end of 2005 for roughly half that amount.
Brunson wins his 10th bracelet in 2005
Photo credit: Flipchip
There is no direct way to determine how much money Brunson cleared in various cash games, which should be much higher depending on the source. Although, Brunson admitted in his blog (entry from 6/22/08) that he had been stuck in the middle of a losing streak.
"Summer officially begins and this is the longest day of the year. I'm taking a couple days off from poker, tournaments, and cash games. I'm going to regroup and get ready for the 50k HORSE tournament on Wednesday. If I don't do well in that, I'll be greatly disappointed. For the life of me, I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong at the poker table. Losing 5 sessions in a row at the cash game tells me I'm not playing the way I should."But Doyle Brunson comes from good stock. He might live another two decades. He also wrote...
"My uncle Bill, recently passed at the age of 99. I come from a long line of folks who flirt with 100 years before they die...Brunson is very aware that he's in the winter of his life. That's why I have a gut feeling that if he gets a shot at the final table, then he's going to win it all. Nothing would shut Hellmuth up more than Brunson winning #11 to tie the Poker Brat.
...I am blessed to still have pretty good endurance left, but lets face it... I'll turn 75 this summer so I have to face the fact that I am not a kid and I need to start pacing myself. As much as I would love to win my eleventh bracelet this year, I've got a lot going on so I don't want to wear myself out playing too many tournaments so I am going to be selective about which ones I play. I feel good, so I might knock off a bracelet anyway...
...Someone sent me a longevity test to see how long your life expectancy is. If you reach my age you figure to live until you are 84. After factoring in the answers to the 26 questions about your health, habits and genetics on the test, my life expectancy is 87.4. Good thing us poker players don't have things like stress and money problems huh? Anyway, I've lived 27,310 days and have only 4500 more days left. I've got a few guys I want to beat before I go to that big game in the sky, so I had better get busy..."
Not to mention how many random bracelet prop bets that Brunson might have. He gave Ivey 3-1 that Ivey would not win a bracelet and won another prop when he bet that Negreanu or either of the bald Lees (Watkinson and Markholt) would win a bracelet before Ivey or Allen Cunningham.
There are 26 more players that stand in between Doyle Brunson and his 11th bracelet. If he has to, he'll pick them off one by one.
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