Brunson Poker

Posted : admin On 24.02.2021

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Todd Brunson isn't the most exciting player in poker history, he's not the most accomplished and the fact that his dad is practically the godfather of the game isn't doing Todd any favors as far his popularity is concerned. That being said, Brunson still managed to have a long and successful career with very little help from his more famous father. Todd's accomplishments are also relatively easy to overlook given how he's primarily a live cash game player. Even still, he managed to win one WSOP event and earn more than $4,000,000 in tournament winnings. We can safely assume that his cash game results are far more impressive.

Brunson Poker

According to a 2005 book 'The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King' Brunson won over $13.5 million in a two-day span playing heads-up, $50,000/$100,000 limit hold-em game. Given the nature of poker, every talented youngster can go on a short heater but the ability to fend off variance for decades is what truly deserves our praise and that's why we're going to take a closer look at Todd Brunson's game.

Brunson poker pro

Thin Value For The Win

Todd Brunson has a reputation of being a rather tight player. There's certainly nothing wrong with that. Making sure that your ranges are stronger than the ranges of your opponents in important spots, was always a great strategy for winning at a poker table. When we combine that with increasing the frequency of the spots that we find ourselves with against the recreational players, we have a winning formula on our hands. Playing a solid tight-aggressive poker is also a lot more difficult in tough environments where other players try to punish us for conservative hand selection with frequent steals. Given how Brunson managed to thrive in the context of difficult Vegas cash games it's pretty safe to assume that he has this whole 'tight aggressive' thing figured out.

In the hand presented above Todd combined both of the cornerstones of tight aggressive play - he made a somewhat loose preflop call in order to play a hand against a perceived recreational player and he showed up with the goods at the end of the hand. Cate Hall might not be your garden variety fish in a barrel, she's an accomplished player with more than $1,000,000 in tournament winnings, but a kinder riff on Mike McDermott's idea from Rounders would lead us to believe that there's a recreational player in every game, no matter how tough it is. It's simply a matter of degrees. In any case, Cate Hall certainly did nothing wrong on the first few streets of the hand seeing as both her 3bet with KK and the first two value barrels were pretty standard. Todd made a slightly questionable preflop call and he followed it up with a classic way ahead/way behind the approach, calling twice against an opponent that should have a somewhat polarized range.

The river is where the hand got interesting. Top card pairing the board is often fairly awkward for aggressive player with initiative given how he or she can no longer represent a top pair type hand with the same success. Also, top card pairing the board often means that the top of the range of the aggressor now loses to a passively played top pair. In summary, there are plenty of reasons not to bet on such a card in many spots, and betting again is often very dishonest. Brunson would no doubt fold against a river bet on any other card, but this one both made his hand a whole lot better and allowed him to read Cate's hand for what it was.

Todd made a very smart play check/raising against a player capable of overplaying a top pair in this spot and he got the max value because of it.

Still Waters Run Deep

When you think Todd Brunson, you don't exactly think about huge bluffs. That being said, truly great tight-aggressive players are self-aware and they know that occasional deviation from their core strategy can be massively +EV. In this particular hand against Shaun Deeb, Todd made a fairly standard value 3bet with AJ and followed it up with a value continuation bet with top pair. Brunson checked on the turn to control the size of the pot for a number of reasons. First of all, he was out of position, the board was very wet and lastly, his opponent wasn't exactly someone that Todd could extract a bunch of thin value from.

After Shaun Deeb decided to check behind, Brunson most likely put him on a kind of hand that he has. It made no sense for Shaun to check behind with the top of his range on such a wet board and while he could still have some weaker combo draws that got there on the river, Todd had the mother of all blocker in this spot in for of an Ace of spades and he decided to utilize his image of a very tight player in order to make a massively +EV bluff.

While we obviously shouldn't be results oriented, the fact that he was able to fold out a Qx type hand goes to show how effective this play must be in the long run.

In the second of a 10-part series, the Paul Phua Poker School recalls how 10-2 became the luckiest hand in World Series of Poker history

With the sheer number of hands that have been played during all the successive World Series of Poker (WSOP) tournaments, you would think that anything could happen. But of all the unlikely strokes of fortune over nearly 50 years of the WSOP, there cannot be anything to rival Doyle Brunson taking down the championship two years running – with the very same lucky hand!What does over 1 mean in betting.

Who is Doyle Brunson?

Doyle Brunson, nicknamed “Texas Dolly” or “The Godfather of Poker”, is one of the last of the old poker greats still standing – or at least sitting, since you’ll often see him in a motorised chair these days. He’s 83 years old, and has been plagued for most of that time by the bad knee that ended his youthful dream of becoming a professional basketball player.
Basketball’s loss is poker’s gain. Brunson has won 10 WSOP bracelets, and his poker strategy book Super/System, originally self-published in 1978, became the bible for a whole generation of poker players. In 2006, after Super/System 2 was published, Brunson was voted by Bluff Magazine the most influential force in the world of poker.

1976: Doyle Brunson wins the WSOP Main Event

In the 1976 WSOP Main Event, Doyle Brunson was heads-up with a player called Jesse Alto. Unlike Brunson, Alto was a keen amateur rather than a professional: his day job was as a car dealer. As a result, he had not fully learned to keep cool in tight spots, and Brunson said he was looking to exploit that weakness.
Jesse Alto bet out with A-J, an excellent starting hand when heads-up. Brunson called with 10-2 suited. The flop came A-J-10, giving Alto two pair. Brunson went all-in with the weaker hand, Alto of course called.
The story of the 1976 WSOP could have been about how an amateur car dealer bested the world’s top pros… but the poker gods decided otherwise. In one of the worst bad beats in Main Event history, Brunson caught runner-runner 2s on the turn and river to make a full house!

1977: Doyle Brunson wins the WSOP Main Event again – with the same hand!

They say lightning never strikes twice. Perhaps it does in Texas. The very next year, Doyle Brunson was defending his title heads-up against Gary “Bones” Berland when he looked down at 10-2 – again. Berland was dealt 8-5.
Yet again Brunson found himself behind when the flop of 10-8-5 gave him a pair, and his opponent two pair. Yet again, the 2 hit on the turn to give Brunson two pair, and this time he was ahead. When Berland pushed all-in, Brunson gladly called. Incredibly, Brunson yet again made a full house on the river when a 10 hit, and he was crowned world champion for the second year in a row.

The “Doyle Brunson hand”

There are many colourful names for different poker hands. Aces are nicknamed “bullets” or “pocket rockets”; pocket Kings are nicknamed “cowboys”; J-5 is known as “Jackson Five” or just “Motown”.
To this day, if you show 10-2, another player around the table is likely to nod wisely and say, “Ah, the ‘Doyle Brunson hand’”.

Doyle Brunson

Who is Doyle Brunson? Poker player profile

  • Born in 1933, Doyle Brunson is nicknamed “Texas Dolly” or “the Godfather of Poker”
  • He is second equal in WSOP bracelets, with 10
  • He won back-to-back WSOP Main Events in 1976 and 1977
  • Doyle Brunson is the author of several books on poker including Super/System and Super/System 2

Brunson Poker Room

Read the first blog in our World Series of Poker mini series on how the World Series of Poker was born, and how “the Grand Old Man of Poker” earned his name.

Or come back tomorrow and read abouthow the tournament phrase “a chip and a chair” was born at the WSOP.