Doyle Brunson, the godfather of poker, announced his retirement back in 2018. But since hanging up his card protector, he has still occasionally shown up at the Big Game to play with his old friends and the young guns. He also made a point of playing a few events at the 2019 World Series Of Poker, just to keep his hand in. This year he will be repeating his showing at “a few select tournaments.”
It always seemed likely that after half a century playing a notoriously addictive game, Brunson might come back for the occasional fix. But one data point doesn’t make a pattern and the 2020 WSOP might as well not have happened. Doyle has never been fond of playing online, even when he had his own poker site to shill for. And as an 86-year old man with pre-existing conditions, he wisely sat out the live events during the pandemic.
Doyle announced that he will be attending in a quick tweet yesterday. “I’m planning on playing a few select tournaments in the WSOP this year,” he wrote.
It seems likely that he will play the seniors event as he has in the past. Previously, Doyle was shy of hitting up the Main Event, citing the ten-day work week and long daily hours required to run deep in that event. However, he may still find the lure of that elusive Main Event hat trick too much to resist.
But with the U.S. finally on the way out of the pandemic and two shots of Pfizer in his left arm, Doyle’s ready to roll come September.
The poker world reacts
Brunson made his announcement the day after the schedule for the 2021 WSOP dropped.
Doyle is not the only poker player to struggle with retiring. Both Fedor Holz and Doug Polk quit poker around the same time as Doyle. Polk came back to put Negreanu in his place. Holz just seemed to play a bit more chess.
Polk’s buddy Joey Ingram was unsurprised by Doyle’s return. He offered to wear matching cowboy hats with Doyle, referencing Brunson’s habit of hitting the table in a 10-gallon Stetson.
“Let’s play the tag-team event and I’ll wear my cowboy hat,” he wrote.
Brandon Shack-Harris was substantially less demure in his response. “F*ck yeah!” he wrote in response to Doyle’s announcement.
Of course, no one is too surprised by this turn of events. Doyle wanting to play the WSOP is like a duck wanting to swim. But there have been some worries that the WSOP might become a super spreader event. The Rio Flu is a notorious problem every year.
This is only likely to be a risk if we don’t beat COVID sufficiently by September and if the poker community has an unusually low uptake on the vaccines. We seem on track to beat COVID sufficiently by then. On the other hand, many in the poker world still haven’t come round to the 230-year-old technology of vaccines.
If an anti-vaxxer gets Doyle sick, there’s going to be hell to pay, the man is a national treasure.
Featured image source: Twitter