Scenes from a Hospitality Suite

Barry Greenstein just came into the PokerStars suite to grab a snack. I waved hello to him, and he came over to talk for a minute. I don't think he's been to sleep since the last time I saw him.

"Long night," I said.

"Oh, I've plenty of long nights playing poker," he said.

"Ask a question for the blog! Ask a question for the blog!" I could hear Otis in my head.

"I was asleep when you guys were nearing the end last night -- uh, I mean, this morning, so I only know what I've read online . . . were you shortstacked for a while before you went out?"

If the Otis in my head had a commentary on my from-the-hip inquiry, he kept quiet about it. I wasn't too sure, myself, but it was out there, and I waited for an answer.

"Well, I was doing great once we neared and passed the bubble, but I ran two huge hands into Doyle, and . . ." he trailed off, and shrugged. What more needs to be said? That's poker.

Two asides: I looked up what I think was one of the hands. It looks like Doyle took a 180K pot off Barry with jacks underneath in stud. Ouch.

I also just realized, in the recalling of our conversation, that Barry talks to me like I'm a fellow poker player. I guess that's technically true, but let's not kid anyone: Barry is a major league all-star, and I'm a guy who plays stickball in the alley.

"Well, I was really sorry to hear you went out," I said. "You were my horse in this one."

D'oh! Stupid unintentional pun! Crap. Did he notice?

"Oh really?" He smiled. "Thank you."

Whew. If he noticed, he was kind enough to not say anything.

"If you had to pick someone from the remaining nine, who would it be?"

Barry answered instantly, as if I had asked him the name of the planet we're standing on: "Ivey."

I wasn't surprised to hear this. Ask any pro player and they will tell you that Phil Ivey is unquestionably the best no limit hold'em player in the world right now. (In fact, Phil reportedly took sixteen million dollars from Andy Beal over three days earlier this year. After they were finished, Andy announced that he was retired from poker.)

"I mean, Chip [Reese] is no dummy, but he's a stronger limit player," Barry said, "and of course Doyle is the sentimental favorite, but . . . yeah, Ivey."

Aside: Humberto Brenes and Alex Brenes are currently sitting about six feet to my left, talking poker strategy. Well, at least that's what I think they're talking about. I only have one year of Spanish from high school, and I'm doing my best not to eavesdrop. Wait -- okay, I know they're talking about poker, because Humberto just said suerte.

When the final table begins, Chip will have 1.7 million, and Doyle will sit behind a stack of 1.2 million. Ivey, with 885,000 is still favored by the man who plays with them all, and is certainly qualified to make a prediction. Maybe I'll get Pauly to give me action on a final table prop bet, and I can get my dollar back sometime in the next twenty-four hours.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker