Never meet your heroes, they say. But how about playing poker with them? Cole South freely admitted in the exclusive Director’s Cut edition of Poker After Dark that he was playing a poker legend who had indirectly helped teach him the game. Hell, as recently as last year, South’s inherent respect for Brunson was evidenced on Twitter.

“I bought his Super System book when I was a sophomore in college and it really helped me get on the right track,” South said during the breakdown of the hand.

You can watch hundreds of these episodes, each with their own processes explained, with our on-demand service. I’m loving it – it’s like going back to poker school.

Commentator Ali Nejad put the clash of master and protégé into some context:

“Doyle wrote Super System and won both of his world championships many years before Cole South was even born.”

Brunson, from the get-go, was after table image. He was on a roll and looking to sew up a reputation for domination. That meant going on the attack no matter what his hole-cards.

“I’d won a few pots and thought ‘I’m going to try to take control of the game’.’

Now at this stage, if I’m Cole South, I’m in a world of pain. There’s a famous psychological condition called Oedipal conflict. A battle for superiority between an aging father and growing son, traditionally, the moment of that the younger man usurps the elder can be traumatic. If it was during this classic Throwback Hand, Cole South didn’t show it.

Brunson is bluffing from pre-flop and Cole South is going nowhere with ace-queen, even less so when he flops one. But a king on the turn then a second six pairing the board on the river gives him pause. At this point, I’d be paralyzed. There are four eventualities:

  • Call and you’re wrong. Doyle has proved he’s the master, and you’re no more a protégé than a golf caddie. Face facts guy-who-gets-to-walk-round-freeways-with-Tiger-Woods-all-day.
  • Call and you’re right. You’ve eclipsed the Grandaddy of poker and feel guilty about having done so. Eaten up with remorse, you spew back thousands of dollars and eBay an antique blunderbuss for Doyle’s Thanksgiving present.
  • Fold and you’re wrong. Texas Dolly has owned you like so many rifles and you shrink back into your seat like the proverbial snail who’s crawled into the salt cellar.
  • Fold and you’re right – Brunson’s top hand doesn’t get paid, and he immediately retires from cash games, claiming that you ended his career. You’re then sued by the poker media for loss of content and memes plague you until your dying day.

Faced with these impossible choices, South would, if he’d been me, simply got up from the table, shaken everyone’s hand then jumped clean out of the window, which likely was a backdrop used for the show and therefore would lead to an even more embarrassing exit via the back stairs of the set. Ten years ago – when this episode was filmed – that was at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. No more Nuggs for me.

As it happened, South went up in stakes shortly after the series and would enjoy frequent days online of winning over $1 million in a single day (as well as losing every so often too). He’s now into crypto, would you believe. Doyle Brunson? Well, he retired from the World Series in the summer, but he’s bound to want to get back amongst it for when Poker After Dark next returns to PokerGO. Stay tuned for those live shows from the PokerGO Studio and more life lessons from the man in the hat.

I wouldn’t miss it for all the crypto in the world.

Doyle Brunson, throwback hands, Cole South