PCA 2015: On the up-and-up
PokerStars players, whether playing live at the PCA or online in one of many countries around the world, know that the integrity of the game at PokerStars is absolutely paramount. That's why the dealers and floor staff here at Atlantis have to be the very best in the business, just as the technology used to operate online has to be as flawless as it can be.
Players know the game is square and on the level, that funds are safe and the deal is random - there's simply too much on the line for it to be any other way. But of course, it's not always been so straightforward. For a few stories about the game's more insalubrious days, we caught up with a true poker legend, Team PokerStars Pro Barry Greenstein.
"I went out to Las Vegas in 1974. I was already a professional poker player. In those days you'd get cheated by the house, the floor bringing in a cold deck, all sorts of stuff. I told them, I'm never going to play poker in Las Vegas again if it's just all cheaters.
They all had agreements not to play against each other. To give you an idea, the first time I ever did play in the WSOP, the flop came Q-9-9 and it went check-check, check-check, $100 bet and call. The hands were queens full, and four nines. The guy with the queens full said 'Why did you bet?' The guy with the four nines said, 'Why did you call?'"
And it wasn't just the players who were 'protecting their interests', so to speak, as we heard in another story about one infamous casino owner who liked to play poker in his own establishment.
"He had a peephole looking at the other guy's cards, and a wire running up his leg, and he'd get signals letting him know when to bet, and when to fold. One night he was playing hold'em and got two kings, and they gave him the signal to fold, but he still raised and ended up getting it all-in against two aces. Afterwards his people said, 'Didn't you get the signal?' He replied, 'I can't throw two kings away!'"
Of course, plenty has changed over the past 40 or so years, even in Las Vegas. Greenstein remembers the 'first honest card room' to open in Sin City, at what was known as the Silverbird.
"Doyle Brunson became one of the best players in the world, and he and Eric Drache thought one day, 'wouldn't it be nice to go play a good honest game of poker?' There were a lot of known cheats around, but even they were welcome to play as long as there was no cheating, no marked cards, no peepholes.
Eric had to go and get his licence from the Gaming Commission. The old guy on the panel said 'There's only thing I need to ask you: will there be any check-raising in your card room? That's broken up more friendships than anything I've ever seen'. Eric just said, 'I'll look into it'".
Greenstein played Day 1B of the PCA Main Event, though unfortunately won't be back for Day 2. But while his stack may have headed south, at least he knows the game was on the up-and-up.
Follow all the action from the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure on PokerStars Blog. Everything from the Main Event is on the Main Event page, while the LAPT event has reached its final table. Full coverage is on the LAPT Bahamas page and on EPT Live.
Adam Hampton is a copywriter for PokerStars.