Wednesday, April 29, 1998 | 11:37 a.m.
Legendary poker player Doyle Brunson may have pulled off the bluff of his life this weekend while being robbed at gunpoint at his Las Vegas Country Club home.
The 64-year-old Brunson said today he faked a heart attack on his doorstep late Saturday as two men, dressed in black and wearing ski masks, pulled a handgun on him and dragged him inside his house.
The robbers, he said, got away with about $4,000 in cash and $80,000 in chips he had been carrying. The chips were part of a $93,000 prize he had won earlier in the week at the Horseshoe Club's World Series of Poker.
Before they left Brunson's home and the well-guarded country club, the suspects put Brunson and his wife, Louise, through a frightening ordeal.
Brunson, a two-time World Series of Poker champion, said he was beaten above his right eye with the weapon and handcuffed to his wife while the robbers pressed him for money in his safe.
The suspects, he said, repeatedly threatened to kill the couple if they didn't cooperate.
"They told me, 'you're going to die' about four times," he said.
Brunson said he told the robbers, who appeared calm and athletic, that he doesn't keep any money in his home.
He said he faked the heart attack to confuse his captors.
"I just knew that if I didn't have any money here to give them, they'd be awfully mad," Brunson said.
Brunson, who won back-to-back World Series of Poker titles in 1976 and 1977, said the suspects eventually left without taking anything else of value.
While handcuffed to his wife, Brunson said, he was able to dial 911 on his cellular phone, but was put on hold.
Eventually, he was able to reach police, but they arrived at his house long after the robbers had fled, he said.
The Metro Police Robbery Detail now is investigating.
Robbery Lt. John Alamshaw said today Brunson was surprised by two white men, believed to be 20-25 years old and 6-feet tall, about 11:50 p.m. Saturday as he was putting his key in his front door.
Brunson indicated he had just left a tournament at the World Series of Poker in which he had finished in 10th place.
"I was really mad that I had gotten knocked out of the tournament, and maybe I wasn't as careful on the way home," he said.
Two nights earlier, Brunson had won $93,000 in another world series tournament at the Horseshoe.
Brunson said he's convinced that someone watching him at the Horseshoe tipped off the robbers that he was heading home.
He said the suspects will have a tough time cashing his chips.
"If they call me, I'll buy them back at half price," he said.
Brunson said he has taken new security precautions in the wake of the robbery and will be ready if anyone tries to accost him again.
He said the Horseshoe is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspects.
Brunson, a member of the Poker Hall of Fame, is considered one of the best no-limit Texas hold'em players in history.
He spends a great deal of his time in high-stakes poker games at the Horseshoe Club, where he is good friends with Horseshoe President Jack Binion.
Brunson was very close to Horseshoe founder Benny Binion before the gaming pioneer's death in 1989.