Brunson has one of the most recognizable last
names in the poker business, but thanks to his
success in this year's World Series of Poker and
his appearances on television, poker fans are
realizing there is much more to Todd than being
"Doyle Brunson's son". Todd used to
eschew tournament poker, preferring the big money
allure of the highest cash games in the world.
However, the recent poker boom has changed his
philosophy somewhat, increased his visibility
in the poker world and his bankroll. At the 2005
World Series of Poker (WSOP) Todd won his first
bracelet in the $2,500 buy-in Omaha Hi/Lo event
and made two other final tables winning approximately
$400,000. Not to be outdone, Todd's father won
a later event making Todd and Doyle the first
father/son team to ever win bracelets at the same
PokerLizard sat down with Todd to discuss
the poker boom, what winning that first bracelet
has meant to him, and what it's like to play in
the biggest cash game in the world.
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PokerLizard: How did you first become interested
in Poker? When did you first become serious about
Todd: I started playing when I went to Australia
with my Father for a poker tournament. I had just
graduated high school and this was just a vacation
for me. However, there was little for me to do
at night as everyone else on the trip was playing
poker. Naturally I started too and here I am today.
PokerLizard: You've played in the biggest game
in the world against billionaire banker Andy Beal,
how do you put the size of those blinds out of
your thoughts and play your best?
Todd: To me in poker, a bet is a bet. Be it $5
or $500,000. People are often surprised to see
me play hard when I play $2-$4 but I am a competitor
and I play to win. A $2 bet is still a bet and
I treat it as such. By the same token a $200,000
is still just a bet, nothing more nothing less.
If you say to yourself "well this bet is
just $4, I'll call with no pair and no draw"
you will lose in the long run. It's the same at
the other end of the spectrum. If someone bets
$100,000 and you say to yourself "Well...I
have a flush and I'm pretty sure it's good and
I know I'm supposed to call but the bet is $100,000
and that's just too much" you will also lose.
Worry about the dollar amounts before and after
you play. In the game. Bets are just units.
PokerLizard: Obviously, based on your success
in the game above, playing very high limits doesn't
faze you, does anything make you nervous?
Todd: Yes, doing interviews
PokerLizard: What attracts the very successful
cash game players to play in tournaments?
Todd: I started off the first few years of my
poker career playing quiet a few tournaments a
year. After a while I noticed all the poker players
with a lot of money were cash players and even
the most successful tournament players were constantly
broke borrowing money or trying to get staked.
Tournaments require a great deal of travel, a
lot of money and are extremely frustrating to
say the least. After a few years of this I said
"who needs this" and basically left
them behind. Even though I was doing pretty well
with them, I saw the upside to cash games.
Now, close to ten years later, poker tournaments
have gone thru the roof thanks to the Internet
and televised tournaments that expose player's
hole cards. Cash game players, including myself,
have been drawn back into the tournament arena
by the huge prize pools and large numbers of novice
players looking for instant glory.
Also, with television brings fame which can be
translated into monetary gain in the form of books
and instructional videos. The poker world is bigger
than ever and many want to buy anything worth
reading. Improving ones game is more important
now than ever with the increasing number of educated
opponents out there.
PokerLizard: What do you enjoy most about the
poker lifestyle? How about the least?
Todd: My three favorite things about poker are
money, money and money. After that I would have
to say being my own boss. I have always had a
problem with authority and can't stand to be told
what to do. If it weren't for poker I would probably
be in prison by now, guilty of murdering the poor
sap who wound up in charge of me.
My least favorite thing about poker is also one
of my favorites strangely enough; traveling. It
can be fun but it's now a pain in the ass with
all the security, layovers, and long flights.
PokerLizard: Congratulations on your first WSOP
win, which came one week after another final table
appearance. The pros seem to be doing much better
at the world series this year compared to last
year, how have you and other pros adjusted to
the online players and large fields?
Todd: I think most all of us made a decision
to play more events this year. I don't really
know of any adjustments anyone has made per say.
PokerLizard: Has anyone ever expressed any reservations
about playing at the same table as you and your
Todd: Never. Quite the contrary, several times
when it has gotten short handed in a game with
both my Father and I, I have tried to quit only
to be told I was being silly and to sit back down.
Even so I try to avoid this as much as possible.
I'm nocturnal and my Dad is an early riser, so
I often wait for him to quit the game before going
down to the Bellagio to play.
PokerLizard: Do you play online much? If so,
what do you enjoy about the online game?
Todd: Yes I do. I like the convenience and the
fast action. DoylesRoom.com
has tournaments starting every few minutes and
a fast action 50-100 hold 'em game I enjoy. I
also like the no limit heads up sit and go's.
It's fun to play with players from all over the
country as well as the world.
PokerLizard: Was it flattering to have your father
ask you to write the Stud Hi/Lo section of Super
System 2? Did you learn anything about yourself
or the game during the writing process?
Todd: Yes, it was great to be included in Super
System 2 as it was such a historic book. I
actually picked the game I wrote as it was one
we had trouble finding anyone else qualified and
available to write it. Writing about poker was
and is a difficult endeavor. Many plays I do in
poker I don't remember why I do them, I just know
it's the correct play. Some I just kind of learned
trial and error and some I thought thru but no
longer remember the thought process I went through
ten or more years ago. It's tough to have to explain
why one play is correct and another wrong when
I don't even remember why anymore.
I have to go back over everything and explain
it out in longhand. It's very tedious and time
consuming. I love to write but would much prefer
something like poker stories to poker instruction.
Why don't I write a book on poker stories??? They
are coming. My publisher asked me to put them
on the back burner and write about nlh (No-Limit
Hold’em) tournaments while they are hot.
PokerLizard: Some players have complained that
isn't the same anymore with all the Internet qualifiers
and huge fields, what are your thoughts?
Todd: Mo playas = mo money
PokerLizard: You're currently seen on the show,
Poker Superstars Invitational, do you enjoy the
made for TV events? What do you think about the
unique structure of the show? Do the bigger name
players have any side bets to make tournament
more interesting since the payout is “relatively”
Todd: I love poker Superstars!!! In the real
world I get recognized 4 or 5 times a day. Before
poker stars I would hear " Look, that's Doyle
Brunson's son". They saw me enough to know
who I was but not my name. I have only heard that
once or twice since poker superstars aired. Now
everyone seems to know my name and it's one more
step out of my Fathers long shadow.
Sometimes we do make side bets on tournaments,
especially if they are small, but considering
someone walked away from poker superstars with
$735,000 I wouldn't say this fit the bill.
PokerLizard: What is the most interesting “prop”
bet you've ever been involved with?
Todd: I got paid $10,000 to cut off my ponytail.
Five years later I turned down $20,000
PokerLizard: What is are some of the stranger
things you've seen occur at the poker table?
Todd: Seeing someone die at the table is the
first thing that comes to mind but I don't want
to talk about that. The funniest thing was in
a $1000-$2000 game about seven years ago. This
was an absolutely huge game at the time. A guy
named Farha took a big mouth full of water and
thought of something funny. He did a massive spit
take like in the movies only it went directly
into the faces of Chau Giang and Annie Duke who
were involved in a giant pot against each other.
The game was high low regular and it was new
to all of us, so they were both concentrating
so hard neither of them flinched at all. Water
dripped down their faces as they continued to
raise and reraise an amazing number of times till
the pot finally ended. Chau scooped Annie and
as soon as he saw her hand he screamed loudly,
but not because he won, he wanted to know who
had spit all over him 45 seconds ago.
I was laughing so hard tears rolled down my face
and I almost blacked out several times. Annie
was so mad she never budged. She sat still staring
forward, not even bothering to wipe the water
and spit off her face. I tried to stop laughing
when I saw how mad she was but to no avail, it
was just too funny. She got madder and madder
but I could not control myself. Finally, after
an hour or so, she left and the whole table burst
out and had a good laugh.
PokerLizard: To some players, winning a WSOP
bracelet is validation, how do you feel after
winning your first one?
Todd: It was more of a relief than anything.
I'm so tired of the question “How many bracelets
do you have?" I say none and many people
argue with me. They remember me winning tournaments
at the hall of fame which was also held at the
Horseshoe casino. I was once on a talk show with
'loud mouth' Mike Matosow and we disagreed on
the play of a hand. He had the nerve to ask me
how many bracelets I had!!! I had a good reply
though; I said none, how many millions do you
PokerLizard: Congratulations on your success
and thanks for your time.
You can play poker with Todd and "Todd Brunson's
Father" at DoylesRoom.com.
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