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The World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event is sort of like a huge dish with a variety of staple ingredients.

First, you have a hefty dose of amateurs and budding poker professionals mixed in with a small, but generous serving of seasoned, high level poker pros. Also thrown in is an even smaller serving of celebrities who add to the surreal aura of it all. Of course, you also need Las Vegas, perhaps the most important staple of all in the WSOP.

There is something missing from that list though – Doyle Brunson.

Yes, the legend known as Texas Dolly does come under the banner of high level poker pro, but it seems kind of odd to group him with people half his age who are still cementing their status in the game.

The 50 plus year veteran of poker is in a group of his own, something that is hard to do in a game that has become as globally popular as poker. He hung up his poker chips for good in April, or so we all thought, in what would have been the end of an era in our much beloved game.

But that did not last long. After debating whether or not he should come back for a run at the 44th annual WSOP, Doyle Brunson took a seat at the Main Event, and it doesn’t look like he will be leaving it anytime soon.

It’s certainly added to the interest in this year’s Main Event, with most poker news outlets reserving at least a paragraph on their tournament recaps to Texas Dolly’s progress. That comes as no surprise After all; this is a man who played in the first WSOP Main Event back in 1970, one of only seven to have done so.

This is also a man who won his first WSOP Gold Bracelet in 1976…that is 37 years ago. That is longer than every WSOP Main Event winner since 2008 has lived. 2003 WSOP Main Event winner Chris Moneymaker, the man whose win sparked the surge of interest in the game, was just one year old when Brunson won his first Main Event Gold Bracelet.

Only two days of the seven day Main Event have been played so far, but it has already proven that Brunson’s decision to come back from retirement was a good one. The energy levels may not be like they once were, it may not be as a easy to move like it once was, but, judging by Texas Dolly’s play so far, the poker skill is as good as it has ever been.

The ten-time WSOP Gold Bracelet winner finished Day 2a/2b with a stack of 224,000 chips to his name, good enough for 25th on the chip ladder out of those who turned out for that starting flight. He won a few big hands, one of which bumped his stack by over 115,000 chips, a sign that he is still one of the players to watch out for.

Brunson will turn 80 in less than one month, and has played poker for well over half of that time. He has the accolades and achievements to show for it too. Besides the ten WSOP Gold Bracelets, he has also taken out a World Poker Tour title and has authored a number of books on poker as well as his life and poker career. To top it all, the Godfather of Poker is also a member of the Poker Hall of Fame.

It’s all well-deserved for the poker legend, who has been seen the game of poker change from being an underground, sneered upon way to make a living to the mainstream popular game it is today.

With his performance at the 2013 WSOP Main Event thus far, though, it looks like the best just may be yet to come.

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Bruno de Paiva

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