Doyle Brunson Comments on Michael Phelps Marijuana Incident

In his most recent blog post, ten time World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner Doyle Brunson spoke out about the pictures that surfaced showing U.S. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps using a bong at a party in South Carolina in November. Phelps had been the darling of the poker world following his record-breaking performance in Beijing in 2008.

Brunson shared his views on the pictures, which originally surfaced in a British newspaper: “Michael Phelps is getting a lot of flak about his picture smoking dope. It’s too bad. He is a nice kid, but he has to realize his every move is scrutinized and he can’t make mistakes like that.” In August, just weeks after Phelps won eight gold medals for the United States in the summer Olympics, the Asian Poker Tour invited the star to play in its Macau event. Phelps, who was a short plane ride away from the gambling Mecca, did not publicly respond to the invitation.

The poker world’s fascination with Phelps began when he told the Baltimore Sun newspaper, his hometown periodical, “I think it would be cool to play in the World Series of Poker. My game is a little off right now, so I’ll have to start improving it a little bit. But I think that would be cool, and it would be cool to meet some of those poker guys.” This prompted a tidal wave of Phelps-related poker press. In September, Betfair, the presenting sponsor of the World Series of Poker Europe in London, invited Phelps to play in its £10,000 buy-in Main Event free of charge. However, Phelps once again was a no show.

During the same month, it was revealed that Brunson had dinner with Phelps and a few of his friends along with poker pros Hoyt Corkins, Jennifer Harman, Marco Traniello, and Todd Brunson. The Brunson father/son team and Corkins are pros that can regularly be found playing on the Cake Poker Network site Doyle’s Room, which led many to believe that Phelps was on the verge of signing with the online poker room. However, no such agreement took place between Phelps and any site.

In October, rumors were swirling around the World Poker Tour’s Festa al Lago event that Phelps would enter it. On Day 1A of the tournament, he was paraded around by Ultimate Bet pro Phil Hellmuth, who introduced the swimming star to major personalities in the poker world. Phelps was in town allegedly to attend the opening of the Real Deal poker stage show at The Venetian. However, Phelps was nowhere to be found at its premiere. Instead, he was competing at the Caesars Classic a few doors down. The Real Deal shut its doors in December.

Poker and Phelps were once again linked in November. On the same night that the CBS News program “60 Minutes” aired a segment about the online poker cheating scandals on Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker, a feature on Phelps also hit the airwaves as the final story of the night. The show aired on the Sunday of Thanksgiving Day weekend. The segment on the online poker incidents questioned why WSOP Main Event Champion Russ Hamilton was not prosecuted despite being named as the mastermind behind the Ultimate Bet wrongdoings. Hamilton recently ducked a Raw Vegas reporter’s questions outside of a Las Vegas golf course. Layne Flack was with Hamilton at the time of the incident.

Phelps has lost numerous endorsements as a result of his alleged marijuana use, including Kellogg’s. Brunson commented, “He has lost lots of money because he has lost some major endorsement deals. I think Michael will get back on track. Remember, he is a 23 year-old kid.” According to the Sun, Phelps has not decided whether he will compete in the 2012 Olympics, which will be held in London. He is in the midst of serving a three month ban from competitive swimming for his actions.

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