There's nothing like the feeling of the moment when Doyle Brunson surprises all and makes an appearance at the World Series of Poker. Before the start of the 2013 WSOP, Brunson tweeted that he wasn't going to play this year as a result of the tournaments just being too grueling of an effort. The living legend held true to his tweet until Event 55, the $50,000 Poker Players' Championship, when he headed down to the Rio with a goal of honoring his friend, the late Chip Reese, with a victory. Brunson failed to make the money, but immediately after his effort, rumors began to swirl of a main event appearance.
Doyle Brunson surprised many with an appearance at the main event.
On Sunday, the rumors were confirmed as Brunson entered the Rio, flanked by fans looking to get a picture or autograph from the living legend. He smiled and obliged as he headed into the Brasilia Room where he sat on stage for an introduction by the WSOP's executive director Ty Stewart and the unveiling of something truly special. Stewart revealed a bronze bust of Brunson, the first of what I'm assuming will be many, that will be kept at the Rio to honor one of poker's greats. He was also presented with a seat into the main event, which he accepted, before starting the day's action with the customary "Shuffle up and deal."
"Doyle Brunson is like having 40 years of tradition wrapped up in one legend," said tournament director Jack Effel. "He represents the last 44 years of what's become the greatest poker event in the world. He's synonymous with the WSOP. The godfather."
After posing for a few photos with his bust and pausing for a moment to reflect on the honor, Brunson headed into the Amazon Room to a warm ovation and took his seat at the feature table that attracted a rail three deep.
"[It's] kind of cliche but the word 'honor' comes to mind," said professional poker player Andrew Brokos, who is seated with Brunson. Brokos has cashed in the main event five times since 2006.
Heading into the first break, Brunson has approximately 30,000 in chips.
For however long it lasts, this main event appearance will always remind players about the history and passion that one man has brought to the game. He survived the times when poker was far from acceptable and thrived when it boomed in front of the masses. Brunson didn't need a bronze bust to cement a legacy. All he wants to do is play the game he loves and at the Rio on Sunday, he'll have that opportunity once again.
Best of luck Doyle. With a nearly 2,000-player field featuring some of the stars of today's game, all eyes are on you.
Small Blinds: 2012 WSOP main event runner-up Jesse Sylvia was eliminated 45 minutes into Level 1 action. Sylvia moved all-in with a set after the turn and was called by his opponent's straight. Sylvia wished his table luck and quickly exited the Brasilia Room. ... The UFC's Georges St-Pierre is playing today and hoping to last longer than his appearance last year. ... Ray Romano and Brad Garrett are playing in the main event today. ... The first elimination of the day came just 20 minutes in as Terry Fleischer's AA held over his opponents Q-Q as all the chips went in postflop. ... Three bracelets will be awarded today in the $1,111 Little One for One Drop, $10,000 pot-limit Omaha and $1,500 no-limit hold 'em events. ... Chris Moneymaker is in today's field and will perform the "Shuffle up and Deal" on Day 1C. ... ESPN.com poker columnist Bernard Lee ran into two big hands to exit late in Level 1. ... Loni Harwood is seated directly in front of me at the 10-handed final table in Event 60. If she's able to last one more elimination, it will be her third final table of the 2013 WSOP. ... Last year's 10th-place finisher Gaelle Baumann is playing today. Elisabeth Hille advanced on Day 1A.