Doyle Brunson

Hollywood and Vegas come together to celebrate Doyle Brunson

Name: Doyle Brunson.

Also Known As: Texas Dolly, the Godfather of Poker.

The Man: Arguably the finest player ever dealt pocket aces (or a 10-2, the hand that bears his name), Doyle Brunson was the first person to win a $1 million poker tournament. In a career spanning over 50 years, Brunson has won ten World Series of Poker bracelets, ranking him second alongside Johnny Chan below Phil Hellmuth (11 bracelets). That includes two WSOP main event titles in 1976 and 1977.

The Bible: Doyle Brunson’s Super System, his own personal guide to playing poker, is universally considered the best poker handbook in history. Originally published in 1979, his long-awaited sequel, Super System 2, was published in 2005. In his introduction to the original Super System, Brunson wrote, I thought playing poker was tough. That was before I started trying to create a poker course.

The Party: On October 17th, 2005, Light Nightclub at the Bellagio hosted the Doyle Brunson Player Appreciation Party. The event was sponsored by and some of Hollywood’s finest came out to pay their respects. Among them were poker pros like Gus Hansen and Jennifer Harman, poker entrepreneur Jack Binion, and Hollywood superstar Leonardo DiCaprio. But Doyle’s favorite guests just might have been the young models courtesy of At 72 years old, Doyle Brunson still had plenty of living (and playing) left to do.

In 2010 five years later, Doyle has not really changed and keep on his busy poker career. Both as a player and as a poker entrepreneur, as he runs Doyle’s Room and Doyle’s Casino. So if you are thinking about retiring, think twice. At 77 Doyle is an example to follow of someone who keeps his intellect intact in his old age.

Doyle Brunson has ten WSOP bracelets but he could surprise us all and win an eleventh one, thus equaling the current record held by Phi Hellmuth. Good luck, Doyle.

Why raising

There are six major reasons to raise. Make sure you know and understand all of them, and practice them. This exercise will improve your game by increasing your aggression, and help you better channel it. If you notice that there is one type of raising you do not do much, then you must practice this particular one, as all are needed in the armory of a good poker player.

  1. Raise because you have the best hand: so that you collect more chips. Power poker consists if betting your strong hands, not slow playing them, so raise with strong hands.
  2. Raise to limit the field: for example raise pre flop with AKs, as you do not want to get called by all the A-rag, who could outflop you; get rid of the weak hands who could outdraw you.
  3. Raise for a free card at the next street: by raising, you induce your opponent to check at the next street, so that you see that next card for free.
  4. Raise your strong draws: some strong draws such as an open ended straight flush draw have great odds and EV, and you must raise to monetize the strength of your hand.
  5. Raise as bluff: you should on occasion raise as a pure bluff; especially if you have a strong image, you may win pots this way with pure bluffs. Do this rarely in order to preserve your image.
  6. Raise with a semi-bluff: this one is more common than the pure bluff, raising with a semi-bluff such as a flush draw give you two ways to win the hand; either now or later with a bigger pot if you hit your draw after getting called; so unlike the pure bluff you may get the stronger hand in the end.

Raising is power poker, don’t be afraid to raise but do it strategically as described above. You will be feared a the table and your bankroll will improve.

A testing decision

Hand History: a good flop from the blind and a testing decision.

This hand was played at a PokerStars $200 NL holdem table. The blinds were $2/$4.

This hand took every bit of hand reading ability that I have. I’m in the BB with T4o. 4 players limp in, the SB completes and I check. We see the flop 6 way in an unraised pot.

The pot is $24 and the flop comes T43 rainbow. The SB checks. Sometimes I would lead out here, but with this many players I figured someone would bet so I check. MP checks, second MP bets $5, it is folded to me and I raise to $20. The first MP calls, and the guy who had bet $5 folds.

OK, this is strange. MP called a bet and a check raise, so maybe he has a set I thought?

The pot is now $69. The turn is a 6. I bet $30 and he immediately goes all in and has me covered. The bet is $172 to me with a pot of $271. Why is he betting $172 into a $100 pot? There’s no way he has a straight and is betting that much. A set? I don’t think so, he would bet less and try to milk me because he has to know I like my hand.

Most people would raise much smaller here with a set or straight. He had overbet some other pots and folded off the opponent so I didn’t see his cards, but because of this, his overbets were very suspicious to me. I really couldn’t put him on a hand here so I hated to call the all in, but the pot was huge and I felt like my 2 pair was pretty well disguised.

I have some guidelines I use when deciding whether or not to call an all in. One of those is that I will call an all in, when the strength of my hand is disguised to the opponent who is putting me all in. I think hes putting me on here AT and is greatly underestimating my hand.

Like I said, I really couldn’t put the opponent on a hand which is normally a recipe for disaster when you’re playing a monster pot, but I was leaning towards thinking he had an overpair, so I called.

He had AA and I won the pot.

Remember this rule when faced with a big all in bet and you’ll be happy you did.