The World Poker Tour® (WPT) has announced that it has signed the legendary Godfather of Poker, Doyle Brunson, as its newest WPT ambassador. For Brunson, who is a member of the WPT® Champions Club in addition to being a member of the Poker Hall of Fame, the deal marks a return to the WPT’s extended family, where he’ll attend WPT event and help the WPT’s online partners with their ongoing promotional efforts, in addition to be featured at fan signings at WPT stops.
Brunson, now 88, cashed in numerous WPT events during the first decade of the traveling televised tour’s existence. He became a WPT Champions Club member in 2004, when at age 71, he took down the WPT’s Legends of Poker main event at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles. Brunson topped a 667-entry field to claim a winner’s prize of $1,198,260, which remains the largest tournament cash of his illustrious career.
Brunson, a one-time college basketball star with NBA aspirations, saw those dreams dashed in a workplace accident that shattered his leg. Soon enough, he was making more money playing poker than at his “regular” job, and he became one of Texas’s legendary road gamblers, before helping to establish poker as a Las Vegas casino game in the 1960s and ’70s. The ten-time WSOP bracelet winner and author of several prominent poker-related books has remained a vital force in the game for more than half a century.
“Doyle has been a part of the World Poker Tour from the very beginning,” said the WPT’s CEO, Adam Pliska. “I was there for his WPT Legends of Poker victory in 2004 when he joined the WPT Champions Club, and to also be here to welcome him to the WPT family after all this time feels surreal.”
Brunson added, “I’ve said this many times before, but it bears repeating: we don’t stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing.”
Debut date as WPT ambassador uncertain
Exactly when Brunson will appear as a WPT representative isn’t yet set. The famed “Texas Dolly” last cashed in a WPT tourney in 2011, around the time he first announced that he would curtail his tournament play due to the fatigue from playing long tournaments that spanned several consecutive days. Brunson, though, has kept returning to occasional events, especially at the WSOP.
The Covid pandemic and its recurring surges of new variants have added to the uncertainty. Months ago, Brunson hinted on social media that he hoped to play a couple of events at the 2022 WSOP. Then the latest pandemic surge occurred, and Brunson, a multiple-times cancer survivor, indicated that he’d probably sit out the series.
In the past couple of weeks, however, Brunson has indicated he’s still on the fence and may yet attend the WSOP in July. On Tuesday, Brunson tweeted, “I probably am going to play the main event, hoping the covid has died down a little.”
Featured image source: Haley Hintze