Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson was, put simply, one of the true legends of poker.
Not only did he play the game professionally for over fifty years — he was one of the very first players who actually studied poker.
He mastered the game very quickly and realized he could have a big advantage over his opponents, not just because of technical knowledge but also and most importantly by being a psychologist.
As you’ll read in one of his quotes:
I’ve always been the person that played the person that I was against, more than the new wave of poker, where they’ve got everything figured out mathematically.
In 1979 he wrote and published Super System, one of the very first books about poker strategy.
As shown on the Hendon Mob, as of 2021 his live poker tournament earnings exceed $6 million.
Best Doyle Brunson quotes
Sometimes, all you had was your word. So, we gambled with each other based on trust. That’s what I’m talking about — that real gamblers can be trusted when they give their word.
I can’t believe how much money I lose betting on sports. There’s a sucker born every minute — that’s me!
I know I’m fortunate to have played at this level, and I still win more often than I lose.
To start with, you had to keep from getting arrested by the police. Then, you had to keep from getting cheated in the games. You also had to worry about collecting the money if you won. Then, finally, after all that was said and done — you had to keep from getting hijacked.
When luck shuts the door, you gotta go in through the window.
Through the years I’ve never stopped doing things, thinking about things, and I still think young.
The thought of money and fame and all that is nice to have. But it’s not what’s really important.
There are usually no direct answers to how you play such-and-such a hand when someone raises in front. Every poker situation is different. The only way you can learn is to play.
Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.
We always had to face a lot of dangers back in those days. You might get arrested, you might get robbed, you might get cheated, you might have trouble collecting the money after you’ve won it. It was quite a challenge, quite a bit different than it is today.
These players just take for granted that you can go into a protected environment like a casino, and you don’t have to worry about those things.
I do my best to promote the World Series of Poker. That’s kind of the reason I do what I do — not for personal recognition. It’s to pay my dues back to poker.
There’s no life like the life I’ve lived. You’re free like a cloud floating up in the sky.
Stu Ungar was the best tournament player that I’ve ever played with. He was also one of the worst cash game players that I’ve ever played with. He had his demons, and he just couldn’t control them.
I once went a whole summer without seeing the sun. I would play all night, then sleep all day.
I now see what the really important things in life are, and they don’t relate to what I do for a living.
You don’t stop playing because you get old; you get old because you stop playing.
What took me decades to learn, these kids can get on the internet. What I learned by brute force, they learn on computers. It tends to make for fairly technical players, but they make up for it with aggression — the kind that comes when you learn things fast.
Everyone gets lucky once in a while, but no one is consistently lucky.
A man with money is no match against a man on a mission.
Failure should be our teacher — not our undertaker.
I’ve always been the person that played the person that I was against, more than the new wave of poker, where they’ve got everything figured out mathematically. I try to get inside my opponent’s head and think what he’s thinking, and it’s been working for me.
Other Doyle Brunson quotes
The big game at the time was a one-dollar ante. Remember, this was the 1950s, so a dollar was a lot of money back then.
I still have the mentality of a 19 year old mind.
I saw that I could make more money in one pot than what was in an entire paycheck selling a week of office supplies.
We (poker players) were actually looked upon as second class citizens back in the 1950s and 1960s.
We used to call the flop “turn”. It was the turn, the fourth street, and the fifth street. And then the terminology changed to flop, turn, and river.
It’s not the cards that you have that make you a winner or a loser.
Try to decide how good your hand is at any given moment. Nothing else matters. Nothing.
People today who play in all the big fancy card rooms don’t understand what it was like back in those days to be a poker player with all the problems we had.
Once, we were playing one of those outlaw games on Exchange Avenue in Fort Worth. All of a sudden, the door was busted down, and a guy stormed in with a gun and shot a guy sitting right next to me at the table.
Your opponents dictate how you play.
Show me your eyes and you may as well show me your cards.
In the early World Series of Poker, the fields weren’t that big, but we weren’t really concentrating on trying to win bracelets, we were just trying to bring people out for the cash games.
When I first started, Johnny Moss was the best poker player.
If I had a mentor, it was him. I kind of patterned my game after Johnny Moss.
The key to No Limit is to put a man to a decision for all his chips.
Sailor and I started traveling around together. We were playing in bigger games around Texas, and that’s when we met up with Amarillo Slim. We formed a partnership — the three of us.
Poker is war. People pretend it’s a game.
In order to be a successful gambler, you have to have a complete disregard for money.
I don’t know why I got the hang of it so easily, as opposed to most people. Within a week, I was the best player in all Hold’em games. It was just a natural thing for me.
Some poker players drink at the fountain of knowledge. Others just gargle.
I’m not an entertainer, I’m a poker player. These guys are trying to be entertainers.
Everybody today knows what I learned back then because it’s all in the poker books. But nobody knew the right way to play back in those days.
There’s all these youngsters, they start with money management, and all this mathematical stuff, and when to quit, and when to play. I never did that, I just kind of played by my gut.
I’ve always said a poker player should be a psychologist, and if you can tune in to your opponent, a lot of that other stuff goes away.
Doyle Brunson quotes on Twitter
After he officially retired from his poker career, Doyle was still active on Twitter.
He would tweet about many different topics, not just poker.
Here are a few interesting quotes and stories I saw on his profile a while ago: