Doyle Brunson Biopic Coming, Famed Poker Player’s Life Story Headed for Big Screen

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Doyle Brunson Biopic Coming, Famed Poker Player’s Life Story Headed for Big Screen

The life story of Doyle Brunson, one of only five players to win the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event more than once, is set for the big screen.

Doyle Brunson poker movie WSOP Main Event
Doyle Brunson poker movie WSOP Main Event
Poker legend Doyle Brunson in 2018 shows off the 10-2 pocket cards that won him the World Series of Poker Main Event in both 1976 and 1977. Brunson’s life story is being made into a feature-length movie. (Image: USA TODAY)

Deadline reported this week that Radar Pictures has acquired the movie rights for Doyle’s biography. The 88-year-old retired from professional poker in 2018 following a more than 50-year career.

Radar Pictures is an independent production company that finances and produces its own feature-length motion pictures. The studio is behind such titles as Jumanji and Riddick — respectively starring The Rock and Vin Diesel — as well as The Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise. Radar has produced 80 films since 1984, with its box office revenue exceeding $9 billion in sales.

Radar’s Justin Smith will be tasked with producing Brunson’s life story for the big screen. A poker player himself, Smith is eager for the opportunity.

There have been many gambling and poker scripts sent to me. None of them has intrigued me as much as Doyle’s story,” Smith told Deadline.

“Having played the biggest poker games with Doyle myself, I’m extremely honored to be in a unique position to be able to help tell his story and capture the environment accurately from an inside perspective,” Smith added.

Nearly Unprecedented Career

Doyle Brunson was the last man standing in the 1976 and 1977 WSOP Main Events. Only three others have won the world’s most prestigious poker tournament in back-to-back years, the others being Johnny Chan, Johnny Moss, and Stu Ungar.

Along with his two WSOP Main Event titles, Brunson’s illustrious career includes eight additional WSOP bracelets. The Texas native, who has long called Las Vegas home, was inducted into the World Series of Poker Hall of Fame in 1988.

Brunson’s life hasn’t been without controversy. The poker great was the subject of an SEC investigation in late 2005 after Brunson announced publicly his intent to purchase the World Poker Tour, a publicly traded company at the time. The Brunson takeover news resulted in WPT shares skyrocketing. But when the deal fell through, Brunson and his investors went quiet when the SEC inquired about the true intent of their offer. Though the case dragged on for two years, the SEC eventually dropped the probe in 2007.

High-Stakes Flicks

The Doyle Brunson forthcoming biopic will be yet another feature-length film focused on the game of poker. But with the untitled film likely at least a year or two out from its premiere, here are some other poker-focused movies for one’s viewing pleasure.    

  • Rounders (1988) — Often cited as the best poker picture ever, the star-studded movie with Matt Damon, Edward Norton, and John Malkovich tells the story of a high-stakes underground poker game.
  • The Cincinnati Kid (1965) — The oldest poker flick on our list, The Cincinnati Kid features Steve McQueen in the titular role of Eric “The Kid” Stoner, a Depression-era poker player who stakes his reputation as the best newcomer in the game against Lancey “The Man” Howard.
  • Molly’s Game (2017) — A more recent movie to hit theaters, Molly’s Game tells the true story of Molly Bloom, the infamous “Poker Queen” who organized high-stakes games for Hollywood celebrities.

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