People have been trying to figure out if Doyle Brunson is bluffing since before the first ever World Series of Poker in 1970.
On Monday, Brunson took to Twitter to tell the poker world he was headed to the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino to play in the 2018 WSOP $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw Championship. He also suggested it could be the last WSOP tournament he ever plays:
Going to the Rio to play in 2-7 lowball tournament. Probably the last one I'll ever play.
— Doyle Brunson (@TexDolly) June 11, 2018
Is Brunson really retiring?
Eager poker media types hungry for a scoop took this as a retirement announcement. Some even got quotes from Brunson about his plans to hang it up this year.
Poker Central quoted Brunson saying he is planning on retiring after the summer because his wife Louise Brunson is not in good health. He reportedly said he wants to stay with her for the duration of either her life or his.
In fact, Brunson told Poker Central he’s going to stop playing completely, adding that he might change his mind in the future. But for now, he feels like after 57 years of marriage he owes it to his wife to be with her in what could very well be the last time they have to spend together.
Brunson hasn’t played a regular tournament schedule in years. He has preferred the flexibility high-stakes cash game action inside Bobby’s Room at Bellagio Hotel & Casino up the street from the Rio have long provided for him.
Is he ready to give that up too?
Considering the reason, and his advanced age, this could very well be a legitimate retirement announcement from Brunson.
Brunson has bluffed before
However, this isn’t the first time he’s said he’s giving up the game. Yet he’s still here. Plus, the fact he’s still hedging his bets saying he reserves the right to change his mind makes it hard to accept it all on face value.
I didn't mean to make such a fuss over my "retirement". I meant probably no more WSOP tournaments. That isn't written in stone however. When they start the mixed games on high stakes poker, I'll be there. Probably not so much cash games but I appreciate all the nice thoughts.
— Doyle Brunson (@TexDolly) June 13, 2018
Brunson first started making noise about retiring from tournament poker back in 2009.
Brunson traveled to London, England that year. Mostly to take part in a promotional event for the now defunct online poker site that bore his name, Doyles Room, and its Brunson 10 team of sponsored pros. He played in the 2009 WSOP Europe Main Event as well. The legend appeared to prove he still had solid tournament poker chops, finishing 17th of 334 entries.
However, speaking privately about his run in the event, Brunson admitted it was all a rather unfortunate mistake. In fact, he’d played just to say he had, and tried to give away his chips early in the tournament, only to get lucky, build a stack and be forced to play it out.
Publicly, he began admitting the travel and long days tournament poker requires were taking a toll on him. He never used the word retire. But at the time, Brunson said he was going to stop playing tournaments for the most part. He also planned to stay home in Las Vegas going forward.
He stuck to his word in 2010, playing only sparingly, and only in Las Vegas events.
Never say never
However, in 2011, he played seven WSOP events in Las Vegas. Then he returned to London in September, playing in his first ever PokerStars European Poker Tour event. Despite removing a tumor from one of his arms in March of that year.
Brunson registered for only four tournaments at the 2012 WSOP. Later that year he revealed he was fighting cancer again, for the fourth time in his life.
As a result, it came as no surprise that as the 2013 WSOP kicked off, Brunson told Twitter he planned on sitting it out:
“Afraid I am finally gonna give in to Father Time and pass on tournament play at WSOP. #toomanyhours” — Doyle Brunson (@TexDolly)
Then he turned up in the 2013 WSOP Main Event, finishing in 409th-place for $28,063.
Clearly, the back-to-back WSOP Main Event Champion and ten-time WSOP bracelet winner has a history of crying wolf.
So, one can be forgiven for thinking it’s another Brunson bluff and poker hasn’t seen the last of Texas Dolly.
One can hope, anyway. Brunson is a true legend who is still sharp enough to compete well into his 80s.
He certainly proved that, finishing sixth in the 2018 WSOP Lowball Championship event he claimed will likely be his last on Tuesday.
So, if this is truly the end for one of the game’s greatest ambassadors, it’s definitely poker’s loss.