Outplayed by a chess master, beat up by Ramdin, and still running well

teampro-thumb.JPGI spent the last month playing poker pretty close to where I live in the Los Angeles area. First there was the month-long tournament at the Commerce and I can't remember doing much of anything in the tournaments. I played the Chinese Poker Tournament and came in third out of 30-some players. Then I played the Celebrity Invitational, which I won a few years ago. I got pretty deep and got out-played by a Russian woman who was a chess master. She looked Asian, so I think she had me mesmerized. You'd have thought she would have been nicer to me, but she bluffed me and another player out of a big pot. I ended up going out not that far before the final table. And then I played the main event, the WPT at the Commerce, and I can't remember much except I went reasonably far, but didn't quite make it. I played in cash games every day at the Commerce and I did okay there. That's the time of the year when the cash games are big around here and then we continued on playing cash games as we went into what they called the Big Event at the Bicycle Club Casino. The Bike, as it's called, is the second biggest card room in the area, and is about ten minutes away from the Commerce. I played two events there. I played in the Main Event and I can't even remember how I went out of that, except I remember I played cash games through the night before going to play on day one and day two.

And then I played the Bounty Shootout, and I remember what happened there. First of all, the Main Event was won by PokerStars pro, Victor Ramdin, a good friend of mine, and he was at my shootout table. I was certainly rooting for Victor to win the Main Event. And how did he pay me back? Well, of course by three betting me with every small pair he had, flopping some sets, and then when I flopped a set of fives against his overpair of kings, he checked the flop and just called a bet on the turn and the river. I won the minimum off him on that hand. And then on a critical hand, when we got four-handed, for about half the chips in play at our table, I flopped top pair, Victor flopped second pair, and he made trips on the river to win the key pot and go on to win our table. So that's what happened in the tournaments, but it still was a good month for me in the cash games, so overall, a positive month of poker.

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I've been looking over at my e-mails and seeing other things that are going on, I was pleasantly surprised by PokerStars donations to Children Incorporated, which is a child sponsorship organization that I'm involved with. What Poker Stars has done in South America, is they have decided to help Children Incorporated in areas wherever they're doing Latin American Poker Tour stops. They made a big initial donation to help out, and they're also sponsoring 100 children. It reminds me of the way the Professional Golf Association became so big. They started doing these different tour stops, and at each tour stop, they would generate money from their Pro Ams and help out in the community. In that way each community helped support the different tour stops. And l always think there's a good tie-in between poker and charity. So, PokerStars has taken the lead there and that makes me proud to be a PokerStars Team Pro and obviously makes me happy that they've chosen as their charity the one where I'm on the Board of Directors. And another thing that they're doing at these events is they're encouraging some of the players to donate a small percentage of their winnings, if they happen to be so lucky as to cash in the tournament.

Actually, I guess one of the things I forgot to mention that I did within the last month; I also played in the NBC Head's Up Event. I don't know how many years they've had it, but I've won my first match every year. Sometimes it's been because I've had a good match-up with the person I played but mostly it's because it's seems like I've run pretty well in those first matches; I've had better cards than my opponent. In the second round this year, we got to a late stage, I made a questionable play when I had a pretty good chip lead, and I doubled my opponent up. I was playing against Ayaz Mahmood, last year's 10k WSOP Heads Up Champion. Anyway, one misstep from me, he got the chip lead and I didn't recover. So, that was no fun. But, there's more poker to be played, and one of the things that I'm looking forward to outside of the live tournaments are the SCOOP events that will be coming up online in May. Those are some great events that PokerStars has. And then after that, of course, the biggest live tournament starts at the end of May: the World Series of Poker.

Barry Greenstein
@PokerStars in Barry Greenstein