WSOP 2012: Chasing Dolly

wsop-130x100.pngA Chicago Cubs game without Haray Caray. New Year's Eve without Dick Clark. The World Series of Poker without Doyle Brunson. Unthinkable, but inevitable. Institutions, even the most stalwart, won't defeat time. Brunson made the decision to not fight the fight this year. Poker's godfather said he wasn't playing the WSOP Main Event. Too tired from playing cash games. He was sorry, he said, but he just couldn't swing it.

Brunson had said as much in years past, but he always showed. This year, it looked like he was serious. Day 1A went by. Day 1B passed. Day 1C started and Brunson was nowhere to be seen.

And then with one hour left to register, the crowded halls of the Rio Convention Center parted like the Red Sea, and Brunson's scooter appeared. ESPN's Andrew Feldman and Bluff magazine senior writer Tim Fiorvanti were the first to spot Texas Dolly. They staked out the cage as Brunson rolled in.

What happened next was both what you would expect and what would never happen for any other player in poker. It is...

The Godfather Treatment.

Within seconds of Brunson's arrival, ESPN cameras and producers rushed to the cage to record the buy-in from beginning to end. Every available suit in Caesar's poker management was marshaled to make sure the process went both smoothly and efficiently. Fans--only two of whom were distracted by the appearance of Dario Minieri--swarmed the registration room doors to get photos. Reporters and photographers began to congeal in a pack, unsure of what they were going to do, but sure they were in exactly the right place.

Then, like a flock of quail from the bush, Brunson's scooter shot from the registration room into the hallway. Jack Effel, now 100 pounds slimmer than he was last year, paced Brunson as the scooter cut in and out of the holes in the crowd. Five steps behind them were Feldman, Fiorvanti, and the rest of the assembled media, all of us still unsure of exactly what we were doing.

The scooter is fast and Brunson wasted no time. Effel kept up and directed Brunson to the farthest reaches of the tournament area, deep in the yellow section of the Pavilion Room. They parked the scooter on the rail, and Effel promised someone would keep an eye on it.

One arm draped over his familiar crutch, Brunson walked to his table. There a floorman assured Brunson someone would also be assigned to keep watch on the crutch. Brunson sat, said hello to his friend Chuck, and ripped open a package of beef jerky. Fiorvanti jotted down notes, and Feldman took a Brunson quote. "Hope I remember how to win a pot," he said.

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Doyle Brunson at the 2012 WSOP (photo by Joe Giron)

Brunson is literally the only person in the world who could change a poker event by not playing in it. Though he's been playing ten to twelve hours a day making cash, he somehow summoned the energy at age 78 to come play in the tournament he helped make famous.

Bluff editor Lance Bradley summed it up best: "Welcome to your house, sir."

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TWEET OF THE HOUR

Jason Mercier: "Theyre really making me work for it! Won my first significant pot of the day. Had to call a guy down on KKT42 with 99 ... 17k #boombee"

TEAM ONLINE UPDATE OF THE HOUR

Team Online member Randy Lew is up to 62,000 after flopping top teo pair with king-jack against ace-king.

EARLY BUST-OUT OF THE HOUR

Fatima Moreira De Melo, who lost most of her chips in an ugly set under set debacle.

QUOTE OF THE HOUR

Australian player Andrew Scott: "This is the only World Series event I play. I have to pay 30 per cent tax on all winnings. It's enough to make me want to be a Pom*."

*A "pom" is an Australian term of endearment for an Englishman.