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Pamela Brunson: “I was always proud of my Dad”

Monday, 3 August 2015

Our magazine has succeeded to achieve an extraordinary interview exclusively with Pamela Brunson – daughter of the famous Doyle Brunson, one of the most important personality in poker in the world. We invite you to read this material-event to find out what it meant for Pamela to be the daughter of a poker player so emblematic, what means poker for Brunson family and how divides his life, this strong woman,  between poker, family and different activities to help people.

Brunson represents a big name in poker worldwide. I think the poker is present in your life from an early age. How was your life with poker all around you?

There is NEVER a dull moment in my family. Always something going on. We used to say……most people “spice up” a story when they tell it. We have to “tone it down”. When I was growing up, poker was frowned upon as a profession. Mom would tell us to say Dad was in the “oil business”. I never cared what people thought. I’ve ALWAYS been proud of my Dad. So I would hold my head up high and say “My Dad is a poker player”! My Dad graduated from Hardin Simmons University with a double Masters in business and education. He was an all-star athlete in track and basketball. He was the 2nd fastest runner in Texas and was going to be drafted into the Minniapolis Lakers…when a wall fell on him, crushed his leg and changed his destiny. He began to play poker for a living. All his classmates were inducted into the Hardin Simmons Hall of Fame. They didn’t induct Dad because he was a “gambler”. That really hurt him. Finally…when the “poker boom” came, poker was accepted and they inducted Dad into the Hall of Fame. I know it meant alot to him to be accepted. I am THANKFUL he got to see poker become accepted by society. Now the public knows what a GREAT MAN I have as a Dad!!!

It was difficult to be Doyle Brunson’s daughter?

I was always proud of my Dad. Sometimes people looked down on “gamblers” and “poker players”. I honestly didn’t let that bother me……which is interesting because I’m EXTREMELY sensitive. Dad was gone alot. When we lived in Texas, we went weeks at a time not seeing him. He’d either be driving thru Texas playing poker or going to Vegas. Right before I turned 9 years old, we moved to Vegas. It was interesting growing up here. Things stayed open all night and we could go to casinos to eat. Dad played LONG hours. I used to hear him coming in at 4 or 5 am. We would have to be quite while he slept. That wasn’t always easy with a house full of kids!!! It’s pretty cool these days. EVERYONE knows who Dad is…..even in other countries. It’s sooooo awesome to see how much people admire and respect him. I am proud of him. He has been thru ALOT in his lifetime. I’ve really become close to him over the last few years. He’s let me in…and opened up about alot of things. There is not a person I admire more in this world than my Dad…well…I’d have to put my Mom right up there with him. I am BLESSED to have such AMAZING parents. They are both in their 80’s now. I try to spend alot of time with them and help where I can. They are getting older. Both are VERY mentally alert. Physically they are having some issues. I’m happy to help them as they have always been there for me. I am TREASURING every minute!!!

When did you start playing poker and how?

I started playing poker in 1989. I graduated college in Texas and moved to Southern California. At the time my parents had a house there and Todd was also there. Dad, Chip Reese and a man named Lynn Miller had a poker room in Oceanside called “Oceanside Card Club”. There was also a place called “Jerry’s place”. Those 2 poker rooms are where I learned to play poker. Todd and I started playing poker around the same time. It was so FUN going there and playing. Most the games were Limit Holdem back then. They also played Omaha high and high/low. I would play 4 or 5 days a week…many times in 24 hour sessions. I once played for 68 hours. All the Brunsons had incredible stamina when we were younger. Oh how I wish I still did!!! I played for a few years, mainly cash games…6/12 limit poker with a Kill button. Not many girls played poker back then. It wasn’t the best environment. Dad didn’t want me playing. I ended up getting a job and the retirement industry and put poker on the back burner. I played a few times a year but I didn’t start back up playing regularly until 2006 or so. I only played regularly until 2010. I have other priorities these days. Hoping to get to play more soon. Poker has changed ALOT!!! Many more women playing now. There are more rules about cussing, smoking, etc which make for a better playing environment. Also…….now most people play “no-limit” holdem and poker tournaments these days. I LOVE both so looking forward to have more time in the future to grind again!!!

Which kind of poker do you prefer, live or online, tournaments or cash games?

I enjoy playing tournaments the most. Unfortunately, it’s tough to make money only playing tourneys so I see more cash games in my future. I’ll probably do a mixture of both.

What does poker mean for you?

I LOVE poker. It’s fun, exciting, you can make money at it and also meet people! It’s also a game of skill so I’m constantly trying to study, learn and improve my game. I’d say that’s a GREAT combo for anything you do in life!!!

How much time do you invest in poker?

I don’t spend much time playing poker these days. I’m hoping to play more in the future. Everyone is learning and growing as players. I feel like it’s all passing me by…so I need to get back into the game!!!

You won in 2007 the Legends of Poker ladies tournament. How was it?

It was AMAZING!!! We were down to 3 players. I was the short stack. The other 2 ladies started making a deal to chop 1st and 2nd place…right IN FRONT of me at the table!!! They were SO SURE I was the next to bust. I told them they better be making a deal for 2nd and 3rd place because I was going to win. They laughed. I “changed gears”, picked my spots, got aggressive and WON!!! It was a GREAT feeling! Especially after them talking “smack”.

Which was the most exciting hand in poker for you?

I honestly couldn’t say my most exciting poker hand. I usually remember the “bad plays” and “mistakes” I make more than the great hands. I try to play back and reflect on the hands in hopes of learning from them…so the next time I come across a similar situation…I don’t make the same mistake.

The fact that you got a bachelor degree in sociology helped you in your poker activities?

I think sociology and especially the psychology classes I took in college helped in my abilities to “read” poker players. You gotta be able to figure out your opponents by watching and observing them. Psychology is a HUGE part of the game!!! Alot of poker players make the mistake of not paying attention when they aren’t in a hand. BIG MISTAKE! Ya gotta ALWAYS be watching and observing EVERYTHING that goes on around you in a poker game. If you don’t, you are missing out on TONS of free information. It could easily make the difference on whether you win or lose at poker.

You are recognized by the name “Queen Kitty”. From where you got this nickname?

“Queen Kitty” is my online poker name. I LOVE cats!!! I’ve been a “cat” on Halloween a few times. One Halloween, I was getting ready and didn’t have much of a costume together. I started brain storming. I didn’t want to be a cat AGAIN…and didn’t have much time to get ready. I remembered I had a “Queen’s cape and crown” from a previous Halloween and combined the “Kiity” and the “Queen”…and “Queen Kitty” was born!!!

Why do you think that poker has become a phenomenon in the world, including Romania?

I think putting poker on TV and allowing the viewing audience to see the “hole cards” has helped put poker on the map. It’s given everyone a peek into poker in general and allowed the wonderful “characters” of poker aka “poker players” to be exposed to the world. Also, poker tournaments like the WSOP, WPT , etc expose people to poker and gives the “average” person a “shot” at winning a lot of money. Who doesn’t like the idea of winning money???? I’d say that’s one thing we all have in common!

What do you do except poker? I know that you are implicated in different activities to help people.

After I graduated UTSA ( University of Texas at San Antonio) with a BA in Sociology, I decided to move to California. I’ ve always had a passion for working with people and helping others. I also LOVE the elderly. I decided to go into the Retirement Industry. I joined a WONDERFUL company that ran “Assisted Living Retirement Communities” in Southern California. I worked my way “UP” doing a number of jobs…from “receptionist” to “accounting assistant” to “Accountant” to “Marketing Coordinator” and finally to the “Executive Director” of one of the most premier communities around. I am very proud of my career. I worked hard and did whatever it took to make it to the next level in my industry. Lots of long hours, continuing education classes, getting the proper training and licensing, etc. It was an AWESOME industry and I LOVED working with the elderly. In 2000 I decided I needed to move back to Las Vegas to be close to my family. These days, my parents are in their 80s, I spend most my time helping them. I also enjoy getting involved with the local community charities either by donating or helping to raise money. Lots of times it’s thru attending and participating in “charity poker tournaments”. It’s a great way to give back to the community and have some fun at the same time!

What are your future plans regarding poker?

I’m hoping to start playing more poker in the near future. I keep saying that…and it doesn’t happen. We’ve had LOTS going on in my family. Both my parents had health scares this year. They are my priority before poker or anything else. They are getting older and need me…so…fingers crossed…y’all see me at the tables SOON!

Which are your hobbies?

I enjoy socializing, country dancing, poker (it’s more of a hobby than my profession), spending time with family and friends and I ADORE animals!!! And COWBOYS!!!

What would you advice a young people who want to start playing poker?

I’d tell anyone interested in playing poker to do a combination of things. Getting good at poker requires lots of work, disipline and training. Read some poker books. Super System 1 and 2 are a great start! Watching poker videos can be helpful but many people get the wrong idea about poker only watching it on TV. TV only shows a VERY condensed version of poker…only the “interesting” hands. There are LOTS of hands and time in between. Practice being patient. Having patience is a huge part of the game. There are lots of training seminars and DVDs these days to take advantage of. Nothing prepares you more for poker than GRINDING at the tables. I recommend playing online and live to get a feel for both. Each have their advantages and disadvantages. Get in there, grind and learn. Also, when you are at a poker table, observe, observe,observe!!! It’s extremely important to PAY ATTENTION. It’s also as important to avoid losing a hand as it is to win a hand. Remember the old song by Kenny Rogers “The Gambler”? “YA GOTTA KNOW WHEN TO HOLD EM, KNOW WHEN TO FOLD EM, KNOW WHEN TO WALK AWAY. KNOW WHEN TO RUN”!!! It’s TRUE!!!

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