Doyle Brunson, The Godfather of Poker, Gone at 89

One of the most recognizable names and faces in poker history, Doyle Brunson died Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas.

Lance Bradley
May 14, 2023
Doyle Brunson, the Godfather of Poker, passed away at the age of 89.

Doyle Brunson, the poker icon whose legend spanned the entirety of the modern poker era, died Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas. He was 89 years old.

The Brunson family released a statement Sunday night through his longtime agent, Brian Balsbaugh.

“It is with a heavy heart we announce the passing of our father, Doyle Brunson. He was a beloved Christian man, husband, father and grandfather. We’ll have more to say over the coming days as we honor his legacy. Please keep Doyle and our family in your prayers. May he rest in peace.”

Brunson first rose to mainstream fame in the early 1970s as the World Series of Poker brought the game from backrooms, pool halls, and private clubs into the spotlight. Brunson won the WSOP Main Event in 1976 and 1977, he won a second bracelet each of those years and then added bracelet wins in 1978, 1979, 1991, 1998, 2003, and 2005.

The 2005 win made him just the second player with 10 bracelets, tying the record longtime rival and friend Johnny Chan had set just four days earlier.

Brunson also won a World Poker Tour title, taking down the WPT Legends of Poker at the Bicycle Casino in 2004. Brunson topped the 667-entry field, defeating Lee Watkinson heads-up for the win and a $1,198,290 payday. Brunson became a World Poker Tour ambassador in 2022.

While tournament success put him in the public spotlight, Brunson was most revered for his cash game success in the highest-stakes games available. A regular in Bobby’s Room at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, where Brunson continued to play at the highest stakes until his death. In 1988, Brunson was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame as the 16th honoree.

Brunson was a prolific author as well and his first book, Super/System, published in 1978, rankled some of his fellow professional poker players who felt Brunson was giving away too much information. The book remains a staple for poker players young and old.

His autobiography, The Godfather of Poker, which detailed not only his early life but chronicled his time playing in Texas road games in the 1960s, was released in 2012.

Brunson is survived by his wife, Louise, his children Todd and Pamela. He is predeceased by another daughter, Doyla.