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Todd Brunson alias "Darkhorse"

Last Update: 10. April 2014
“When I was 18, I thought 2 pair beat 3 of a kind,” he says. “I had no clue of anything about it.”
El Paso, Texas
Las Vegas
left Texas Tech University for poker
teaches poker in the World Poker Tour boot camp
playing darts, playing volleyball, hanging out with friends
after high school
Omaha 8/b - 7 Card Stud 8/b - Stud Hi/Lo
Jennifer Harman, Daniel Negreanu, his father
One of the best cash games pros there is

The road to professional poker

William Hill
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Born in EL Paso, TX in August 7, 1969 Todd Brunson wasn’t quick to learn playing the game that bought his father, Doyle, so much fame and fortune. In fact, the first time Todd played poker was when he went to Australia with his father for a tournament. He had just graduated high school and the trip Down Under was a deserved vacation; however, there was little for him to do at night as everyone else was playing poker, so he decided to give it a go too. Brunson’s teen years were everything a boy could dream of. Todd and his two sisters were given a lot of freedom and they often had fun across the border in Juarez, Mexico. Growing up, his family moved between cities, and this perhaps was the only uncomfortable aspect of his adolescence. When his parents relocated to Las Vegas once more, Todd remained in Texas to attend Tech College in Lubbock.

He was on his way to receive a law degree, but after finishing his third year of university he decided to concentrate solely on poker. At that time, this decision was met with caution by his family, but it proved to be one of the best he’s ever made.

First taste of success

Todd won his maiden major prize at the age of 21 when he came on top in the $200,000 Diamond Jim Brady tournament at the Bicycle Club. Todd continued his impressive run of results at various international poker tournaments, grinding his way to the elite events where big money and big players are involved. In August 2001 he came first at the Bellagio Pot-Limit Hold'Em tournament, and claimed $27,280. In 2004 he won the title in the Festa al Lago II, No-Limit Hold'em event and took home the cash prize of $158,861. The pinnacle of his tournaments’ career came in 2005 when he took part in in the 36th Annual World Series of Poker and outlasted all the competitors in Event 21 - WSOP Limit Omaha Hi/Lo. The win brought him his first WSOP bracelet and $255,945 in prize money. Todd Brunson and Doyle Brunson became the only father and son duo to win WSOP championship in the same year.

The biggest game in the world

Todd Brunson has stated on numerous occasions that he prefers high roller cash games to tournament entries, but when millions of dollars are at stake, even the most cold-blooded prosmay fall under pressure. That was not the case with Brunson as he showed remarkable calm and composure when playing Texas Billionaire Andy Beal. When Beal wanted to go head to head against real pros, a group of top Vegas players created “The Corporation”. Under the guidance of Doyle Brunson and later Phil Ivey, players faced Beal heads-up with an agreement to share their winnings or loses. Todd played a pivotal role in helping his team come away with a whopping $16.6 million in one of the meetings. Asked in an interview with how he coped with the astronomical stakes, Burns replied in his characteristic fashion:” 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.”


The $ 2 Million Bad Beat

Bad beats are not a rare occurrence in poker, but sometimes they can be extremely cruel. Todd Brunson was at the end of one of the sickest bad beat you’ll ever see in the game. It was a hand in which the flop came 2-3-10 and he had 4-6. The next card 5 gave him the nut straight and he and his opponent went all in. The opponent had only 5-10 for top two pairs, and Todd was only one card away from winning $ 2,000,000. Unfortunately for Brunson a 10 completed the board and his opponent claimed the huge prize with a full house. It was a tough lose to take but, it didn’t’ affect Todd’s fortunes by any means, as according to himself he has won about $25 million dollars on live poker.

Becoming a writer and a teacher

You can find Todd not only at busy poker tables but also in one of the best books on poker. He wrote the he Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo section for Super/System 2, the sequel to his father's iconic book, Super/System.

While he still enjoys the excitement of high-stakes play, Todd found a new poker home at Aria, where according to him the game is a lot less serious and more sociable. When he is not playing poker, Todd is passing his poker wisdom to students at the WPT Boot Camp, an experience that helps him play better as well. He’s primary goal is to help new players become winners, that’s why he focuses on discipline and the right poker mindset.In an interview given at one of the boot camps, Todd emphasizes the importance of working hard. “I really like seeing students work hard and learn how to play better,” he says. “I know they’ll have a lot more fun if they’re winning—and I want to help them win.”

Todd Brunson has been in the shadow of his legendary father for more than a decade, but through sheer determination and right attitude he has managed to establish himself as a genuine poker star. Long gone are the days when the only way people used to call him was “Brunson’s son”. Today he’s a regular guest at various TV shows and poker events. He may seem dull at the tables, but he’s a real winner and a very rich one too. This quote taken from he’s famous interview describes Todd Brunson in a nutshell. ” 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.”

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