In Memory of Doyle Brunson: Remembering Three Memorable Hands
Last Updated: June 21, 2023
Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson, a legendary figure in the world of poker, passed away on September 1, 2022, leaving behind an indelible legacy in the game.
Known for his exceptional skills, strategic mindset, and remarkable longevity in the poker arena, Brunson's impact on the card-playing community cannot be overstated.
Throughout his illustrious career, he engaged in countless memorable hands that showcased his prowess and cemented his status as one of the greatest players of all time.
In this article, we pay tribute to the late Doyle Brunson by revisiting some of his most remarkable and unforgettable hands.
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The 10-2 Hand (1976 WSOP Main Event)
In what has become an iconic hand, Brunson held 10-2, one of the weakest starting hands in Texas Hold'em, during the final heads-up battle of the 1976 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event.
His opponent, Jesse Alto, held A-Q. With the flop showing 10-10-Q, Brunson flopped a full house, concealing the strength of his hand by checking.
Alto bet, and Brunson just called. The turn came with a 3, and Brunson continued his slow play by checking once more.
Alto, confident in his two pairs, bet again. Finally, the river revealed a deuce, giving Brunson four-of-a-kind. Brunson checked for the third time, luring Alto into betting big.
Brunson, with a dramatic pause, then raised. Alto, convinced he had the superior hand, went all-in. Brunson called, and the crowd erupted in astonishment as he revealed his winning hand.
This hand solidified the mystique of 10-2 as the “Doyle Brunson hand” and demonstrated Brunson's mastery of the game.
The Ace-King Hand (1977 WSOP Main Event)
In another significant WSOP Main Event hand, Brunson held A-K, one of the strongest starting hands in Texas Hold'em, during the heads-up battle against Gary “Bones” Berland in the 1977 edition.
Brunson raised preflop, and Berland called with 10-7 of diamonds. The flop came 10-10-7, giving Berland a full house.
Brunson, undeterred, bet and gambled, and Berland raised, confident in his dominant hand. Brunson called, hoping for an Ace or King on the turn or river. Lo and behold, the turn brought an Ace, giving Brunson a better full house.
He checked, and Berland bet. Brunson, with his trademark poker face, called. The river came with a King, completing Brunson's higher full house.
Doyle then checked once more, enticing Berland to make a final bet, which Brunson promptly raised. Berland, shocked by Brunson's turn of fortune, eventually called and had to lay down his hand when he saw his opponent’s winning combination.
This hand showcased Brunson's ability to turn seemingly dire situations around and capitalize on favorable cards.
The Seven-Deuce Hand (2005 National Heads-Up Poker Championship)
The seven-deuce hand is notorious for being the worst starting hand in Texas Hold'em. However, Brunson managed to turn it into a winning hand in the 2005 National Heads-Up Poker Championship.
In the quarterfinals, Brunson faced off against Sammy Farha. Preflop, Brunson raised with 7-2, and Farha called with A-Q.
The flop brought 2-2-Q, giving Brunson trip deuces. Brunson bet, and Farha called, oblivious to Brunson's trap. The turn came a 6, and Brunson continued to bet, with Farha following suit.
Finally, the river revealed another 2, giving Brunson four-of-a-kind. Brunson bet a substantial amount, and Farha, suspecting a bluff, called, only to be astonished by Brunson's seven-deuce.
This hand perfectly embodied Brunson's ability to seize opportunities and exploit his opponents' expectations.
Undying Legacy of Doyle Brunson
Doyle Brunson's unparalleled success in poker was not solely defined by these three hands.
Throughout his remarkable career, he demonstrated a deep understanding of the game, a keen ability to read his opponents, and an unwavering determination to win.
Brunson's strategic approach and calculated risks earned him an extraordinary ten WSOP bracelets, including back-to-back victories in the WSOP Main Event (1976 and 1977).
His contributions to the game extended beyond his individual achievements, as he also authored influential poker books such as “Super/System,” which became a poker bible for aspiring players.
Beyond the tables, Brunson was known for his friendly demeanor, charismatic personality, and generosity towards his fellow players.
He embodied the true spirit of a poker ambassador, inspiring countless individuals to take up the game and fostering a sense of camaraderie within the poker community.
As we bid farewell to the incomparable Doyle Brunson, we celebrate the unforgettable moments he gifted us through his remarkable hands.
His legacy will forever live on, inspiring future generations of poker enthusiasts to strive for greatness, embrace the art of the game, and remember the brilliance of a true poker icon.
Farewell, Texas Dolly, may your chips forever stack high in the annals of poker history.
You may want to study Brunson’s strategy to get a better understanding of poker and when to gamble for next time you visit a casino.