Doyle Brunson confirms documentary about his life is in the works

Jon Pill
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Posted on 09/09/2021

Doyle Brunson’s life is getting the sports documentary treatment. According to a recent tweet from the Godfather of Poker, there is a documentary about his life in the works, put together by “the same group” that made The Last Dance.

“They are making a documentary about my life now,” Brunson wrote. “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.

From Brunson’s tweet, it isn’t quite clear what constitutes “the same group.”

The Last Dance was a joint production primarily between Netflix and ESPN Films. There were three other production companies involved in the series: Mandalay Sports Media, NBA Entertainment, and Michael Jackson’s media company Jump 23. So there are plenty of parties who could be coming back around for Untitled Doyle Brunson Project.

The WSOP has plenty of history with ESPN. And Doyle Brunson has at least some history as a basketball player. However, an injury early on in his potential athletic career kept him from going pro. It also served, in part, as the railway switch that diverted him into poker. So not even the basketball companies are entirely implausible as being involved.

This is rather better news than the last major poker documentary announcement we received.

The Texas Dolly storytime hour

Doyle is an ideal character for this sort of thing. Not only has he lived the arc of the last half-century of poker, he is a sufficiently unusual character to carry the dramatic arc of a documentary series. On the one hand, Doyle is deeply conservative politically and had his wool dyed in the blood of the lamb. The other hand sits on the butt of a six-shooter, and once dealt the cards as an outlaw road-gambler and rags to riches hustler.

Brunson bridges multiple generations of poker players, from Johnny Moss and Puggy Pearson to Doug Polk and Charlie Carrell. He tells stories of dealing hand after hand in a kind of physical Monte Carlo simulation, and he lived to see poker become a largely digital game in which AIs and solvers drive strategy.

With any luck, Jason Hehir, the director of The Last Dance, will helm the project. His performance in putting together the basketball documentary is best measured by the critical response. 9.1/10 on IMDb, 90/100 on Metacritic, and 97% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. If he can replicate that quality here, this won’t just be a great poker documentary series, but a great documentary series period.

Most importantly for a documentary, Doyle can talk charismatically on camera.

It wasn’t just basketball fans who watched The Last Dance. A series like this can only be good for the game.

Phil Hellmuth is certainly excited. “Yay!!” the poker Brat wrote. “Great stuff @TexDolly!”

Besides, if no one documents Brunson’s story soon, real life is going to deal the audience the ultimate spoiler. The man is 88 years old and has already faced cancer, multiple gunmen, and the opening act of a global pandemic.

We’ve got to be approaching his last hand.

Featured image source: Flickr by Eelke