Pamela Brunson Interview
High Roller Radio has interviewed some of the greatest gamblers, casino insiders, sports bettors, authors and poker players. Here, our interview with Pamela Brunson, daughter of Poker Hall of Fame inductee, 10-time WSOP bracelet winner and 2-time world champion, Doyle Brunson. She talks about her life in poker, Las Vegas & her famous card playing father.
The audio for this interviewHERE
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Pamela Brunson Interview
Q: What’s it like being the daughter of a legend, one of the greatest poker players ever?
PB: It’s pretty awesome. It’s the only thing I’ver ever known so when people ask me that, I don’t know, it’s pretty cool. We get a lot of interesting opportunities and my dad’s an awesome man, we’re a very close knit family, so I have to say it’s pretty good.
Q: I know you’re a pretty skilled player in your own right. Did you’re dad ever sit you down and go through the do’s and dont's of this game or did you have to learn it on your own?
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PB: I was forced to learn it on my own, he didn’t want me playing. Back when I first started playing, 20 years ago, it was only men, it was a rough game, a lot of cussing, and things you really wouldn’t want your daughter to be around. My parents didn’t really want me playing, of course, I played anyway and I learned on my own. He did sit me down and teach me Chinese poker, the one game he did teach me to play.
Q: I know you worked a 9-to-5 job, helping people in your previous profession, what made you decide to take up this game seriously?
PB: Well actually I graduated college out in San Antonio, Texas, and I moved back to California, where my parents were at the time. I started playing with my dad and Chip (Reese). A guy by the name of Lynn Miller had a poker club in Oceanside and I started going there with my brother. That’s where we both kind of started. I guess the poker started in San Antonio but when Todd came to California he started going there and I would go along and play with him. So, believe it or not, we were playing the same game, the same levels, at the same time. I loved it, got really into it, and I was playing every day. As any poker player knows, you just crave it. I think my record is playing 68 hours straight. We used to pull all-nighters, play 48 hours straight all the time. That’s where I learned how to play.
Q: Sixty-eight hours? What were those last 10 hours like?
PB: Pretty much hell! I was living off coffee. I don’t know why I used to do that? In hindsight that was so stupid. You’re kind of trying to beat your own record to see how long you can play. Boy, I had stamina back in those days.
Q: Were you competitive with Todd growing up?
PB: Our whole family was pretty competitive. My mom still won’t play Monopoly with me because when I was a kid it was pretty cutthroat.
Q: We hear a lot about your dad but not your mom. What’s her name and what is she like?
PB: Her name is Louise and she’s the complete opposite of my dad. She’s five-foot tall, a sweet southern lady, an awesome person and really strong Christian. My dad is a Christian also but she is just the sweetest thing ever. Anybody who meets her falls in love with her. She doesn’t cuss, she does't drink, she doesn’t smoke, she’s just never done any of that stuff. A lot of my dad’s friends might not like her around because she’s not to much fun in that sense but as soon as something happens she’s the first person everybody calls to pray. She’s just a motherly-type of mother. She does everything for her family. God comes first, then her family. She’s the rock.
Q: What was it like for you being a kid growing up in Las Vegas?
PB: At the time it was pretty awesome. We moved here in 1973 and it was a really small town back then. I loved it. We never went around the casinos unless we were eating at the brunches. We just never hung out at casinos. After church, on Sundays, my mom would take us to a casino brunch and that’s really the only time we were in casinos. It was a lot of fun. We’d walk everywhere. I love Vegas and it was torture when I had to move away for college. I did not want to move. I love Texas and I love Vegas.
Q: How would you describe yourself as a poker player?
PB: I’m definitely not at the level of my dad or my brother. I do love the game, I’m solid aggressive and I’m definitely a student of the game. I don’t really consider myself a pro, although people call me a pro. I just love the game and love to play cards. I haven’t played too much in the past four years but I’m going to get back into it. I’ll probably play a few events this year and then maybe start grinding.
Q: In 2007 you had a deep run in the main event, which must have been so exciting for you?
PB: It was because, at the time, my dad wouldn’t put me in the main event. He told me it was too much of a crapshoot. So my brother took half of me, I took the other half, and then I made the run. That’s when my dad started believing in me as far as being a poker player goes. I just took it day by day, you know just tried to get through. It’s such a long grind that you can’t get too far ahead of yourself because it can be overwhelming. You just have to slow down and take it step by step, day by day. I busted at the end of Day 3, the last level, only had an hour to go before Day 3 was over. Yeah, pocket queens, usually my best hand. That’s what I lost with, pocket queens. He had ace-five and got there. Pocket queens are usually good to me but you gotta play them.
Q: During the breaks would you be getting advice from Todd or your father?
PB: No, the person I usually got advice from was Hoyt Corkins. He and I are really good friends. I would call him to talk over some things, some hands, and he’d give me really good advice. He was probably my biggest tutor.
Q: You’re a Christian who plays poker. There’s a stereotype with poker, especially back in the day, shady, dark lit rooms, shady characters. How does a Christian justify playing poker in a gambling hall like a casino?
PB: Well, God comes first and you can’t let the poker, the gambling, control you. A lot of poker players are gamblers. There’s a big difference between a poker player and a gambler. A gambler wagers on all kids of things, gets obsessed with it, and kind of gets consumed by it. A poker player can make it a regular job. You have to make sure you make room for other things in your life, like God and family, and be sure to not let it consume you. I think when it consumes you, which happens to a lot of players, you lose balance. I’ve had to work hard at that. I’ve learned a lot through the years. Moderation, balance, I think they're key for poker players or anybody in life.
Pamela Brunson Thank-you!