Poker Star Brunson Remembers Jerry Buss

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Jerry Buss, who owned the Lakers for more than 30 years, died on Monday. (Damian Dovarganes/AP)
Jerry Buss, who owned the Lakers for more than 30 years, died on Monday. (Damian Dovarganes/AP)

On Thursday, Los Angeles said goodbye to Jerry Buss who for more than 30 years owned the Lakers. Buss died on Monday at the age of 80. But it’s not just the basketball world that’s mourning. Dr. Buss was such a strong influence in high-stakes poker that the World Series of Poker is considering naming a championship tournament after him. Doyle "Texas-Dolly" Brunson has won a record 10 World Series of Poker bracelets, and he considered the late Dr. Buss a friend. Brunson joined Bill Littlefield to remember Dr. Buss.

BL: Your personal history overlaps with Lakers history. You were a Minneapolis Lakers prospect before you shattered your leg, and I understand you once asked Dr. Buss if he could find any old film of you from your playing days. What was his response?

DB: He says, “No Doyle, we throw those away after 50 years.”

BL: Now I understand that you shared that story with many people on Twitter. You shared another about a particularly bad night Dr. Buss had at the tables. Could you tell us about that?

DB: It wasn’t in a casino. It was at a home game. Jerry, like I said, he had a bad night. He lost $50,000 in the game. I was leaving and everything, I said, “Well, Jerry, I’m sorry that you lost so much.” He said, “That’s all right, Doyle.” He said, “I could do that every day for 100 years and still be rich.”

BL: So you invited him immediately to sit down and play some more, I’m sure.

DB: Really a class act, Jerry was. Never heard anybody say a bad word about him.

BL: Well you weren’t the only poker great to react to Jerry Buss’s passing. If the internet is to be believed, he was nearly universally loved throughout the poker world, and I assume this was not because he lost $50,000 every time he sat down.

DB: No, Jerry was a competitive amateur. True, if he had played with professionals over a long period of time he would have lost. But you know that’s the beauty of poker. There’s so much luck involved that anybody can beat anybody on a certain night, and that’s what Jerry did. You know, he won sometimes, and he probably lost more than he won. But, he enjoyed it, you know, he could afford it, and he developed a relationship with a lot of the players. Everybody liked him and he liked people, you know. It was just a good fit.

BL: Tell me what you will most miss about Jerry Buss.

DB: You know, he was so humble, and he didn’t forget where he came from. That seems to be the problem with a lot of people that get ahold of a lot of money or get famous. You know, he still realized, you know, that he was Jerry Buss, and, you know, he was fortunate enough to make a lot of money in the real-estate business in California and he never developed a giant ego that a lot of people get. He was always just a humble guy that, you know, enjoyed people. And I’ll just miss the conversation with him.

This segment aired on February 23, 2013.


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