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Why Is Doyle Brunson The Godfather Of Poker?

He’s an icon. He’s one of the best to have ever done it, especially if you look at all the years he’s been doing it for. The guy’s been doing it for a very long time at the top level, and he’s still a winning poker player. He just rolls in there and wins the money.” – Phil Ivey

I decided to write this article after I’ve read the book: The Godfather of Poker: The Doyle Brunson Story. The book describes his fascinating life and his adventures, starting from the beginning of poker in the wild west to the mob-run Las Vegas. “ It’s a story of guts and glory, of good luck and bad, of triumph and unspeakable tragedy, of courage and grace. He has survived whippings, gun fights, stabbings, mobsters (the real-life ones portrayed in the movie Casino), murderers, and a death sentence when, riddled with incurable cancer, he was given months to live by doctors who told him his hand was played out. Apparently, fate had never played poker with Brunson—he lived.”

Why I love Doyle Brunson’s life story so much? Because we have something life-changing in common: we both survived cancer. After being diagnosed and becoming a cancer survivor in 2014, I made the decision that I will only do things that I truly love all my life. This is why I became a professional poker player and this is why I started my Instagram page @thepokermindset. Cancer taught me to be thankful for this day, to be grateful for my loving friends and family and to follow my passion.

Photo: PokerCentral

The Godfather of Poker: The Doyle Brunson Story

I highly recommend the book for everybody who loves the game, you won’t learn any new strategies, but you will learn how the mind of a true champion works, you will see why Doyle Brunson’s life is so inspiring and in my opinion this is the best poker history book out there.

In the next part of the article I would like to share some of my favorite quotes from the book. It might be long, but trust me, it’s worth reading it. Enjoy!

  1. “My fledgling poker career was no different than my athletic career or anything else I did. I was addicted, obsessed. I put everything I had, all my energies, into my new vocation(…) I knew my parents wouldn’t approve of this lifestyle. But I reckon I was destined to be a gambler. It just seemed right to me at the time.”
  2. “Anytime there was a lot of money involved, somebody was going to try to get it. Killers, con artists,cheats, and thieves were a fixture of the gambling landscape(…) The foremost threat was getting hijacked, which usually meant getting robbed at gunpoint. You had to worry about winning the money, you had to worry about getting cheated while trying to win it, you had to worry about getting paid after you won it, and you had to worry about getting arrested before, during, and after.”
  3. I just walked out of the hospital thankful that I had survived cancer(…) I knew now life was short and unpredictable, and that it would be a mistake to live it doing something I neither enjoyed nor could commit to. I wanted to be a poker player, a high-stakes poker player. I wanted to make a lot of money.”
  4. Coping with Doyla’s death as I did gave me strength I’d never had before. After spending so long meditating about my poker career and my lifestyle, as well as the concept of Christianity, I concluded that the answers I’d been seeking were hardly clear-cut. But I found the answers I thought best for me. I came to understand that life is short, that we all go sooner or later. My meditations also confirmed my feeling that we should do what we enjoy doing, within reason.”
  5. “Most people assumed that if we were gamblers or poker players, we also had to be underworld figures, or at least involved in some kind of illegal activities such as drugs or prostitution(…) When I moved to Las Vegas, I realized what a wonderful atmosphere the city had. We didn’t have to worry about the adversity and dangers of the Texas Circuit(…) Vegas was poker paradise.”
  6. “When big money is on the line, guys tighten up; they freeze and start playing conservatively, not loose and easy like they normally would. The pressure gets to them.”
  7. “It’s a terrible feeling to know you’re no longer in it[WSOP Main Event 2004]. But as bad as I felt, and I felt awful bad, one of the most gratifying moments I’ve ever had in a poker room occurred right then and there, and I had to do everything I could to stop the tears from coming to my eyes. Spontaneously, as I got out of my chair, the players at my table stood up and began applauding. Pretty soon, all the players in the tournament got up as well and joined in”
  8. “When you have too much going on inside your head, it seems like there isn’t enough room for poker and, consequently, you’re not prepared to play your best game. And you lose.”
  9. “You have to be able to handle adversity without going off the deep end. If you don’t know how to handle losses, you’re in the wrong game.”
  10. “It may sound strange, but to some degree I attribute my overall good health to poker, and my poker longevity to my health.”
  11. “Pretty much all the top poker players have a terrific recall, a poker term that describes the ability to remember hands, situations, or players from the past. It makes the difference between good players and great ones.”
  12. “I can’t tell you that the cards you are dealt will be the ones you want, but whatever they turn out to be, play them wisely, and honestly, and with passion and pleasure. That’s the secret.”

Once I started reading the book I couldn’t put down, Doyle showed me how to live life to the fullest. I hope this quotes made you curious about reading the whole book. Click here now to order a copy from Amazon!

Note: If you want to play like the best, you need to learn to think like the best. Read the Top 30 Poker Mindset Quotes from the legends of this game!