WSOP Event #300 Pot-Limit Omaha with Rebuys: A conversation with Barry Greenstein, and Jim McManus, plus the Legendary Pasta Salad

"How are you doing in there?" I asked Barry Greenstein, as he filled a plate with this really outstanding pasta salad we have in the suite today.

"I had two pair, jacks and tens," he said, "and the flop came ten five three. Greg Raymer goes all-in, Scott Fischman goes all-in, and I call with top set. Greg's got ace eight of clubs for the nut flush draw, Scott's got the jack seven of clubs for a flush draw that's no good but he also has six four for the wrap. The turn is a three, and the ten comes on the end to give me quads."

"Dems quads, beeetches! I thought, a reference to a WPBT joke.

"So you're doing really well, right?" I said.

"Well, I was," Barry said, "until there was this table of Europeans behind me where they were going all-in in the dark, and Tony G won a pot with a pair of nines."

"What?!" I said.

Barry ate a bit and said, "He stacked his chips, and didn't play a pot until after the rebuy period. Doesn't that seem like some sort of collusion to you?"

"Uh, yeah." I said. "Did anyone do anything about it?"

"Well, even if it was wrong, which I'm not sure about, Harrah's has no incentive to do anything about it. They're taking a cut from the buy-ins, a cut from the rebuys, and a cut from the prize pool, so the more money that goes in, the better it is for them."

"So other than those shenanigans, how's the event for you?" I said, as Jim McManus walked in.

"I have a very tough table," he said. "Robert Williamson, Greg Raymer, Scott Fischman and," he added a player whose name I can't decipher from my notes. (Sorry!)

Jim came over and sat on the chair next to the couch.

A little earlier today, I'd come back into the suite with a ham and cheese sandwich, and Jim came in looking for something to eat. The food for our players hadn't arrived, yet, and I knew he had to get into the Amazon room for the start of the PLO event, so I offered him half of my sandwich:

"Are you sure?" He said.

"Yeah," I said. "You don't have time to track down some food, and I'm just here writing, so I'll take half and wait for them to bring the food in here.

I took my half off the plate and gave it to him. "Please," I said, "take it."

He thanked me many times, and took it.

"Good luck, sir." I said, as he walked out of the suite.

"Thank you!" He said.


He began to eat, and I said, "It looks like you rode my sandwich to the top of the leaderboard. Good job, sir."

He nodded and said, "Well, I was there for a minute, but then these professional poker players with piles of money rebuy, and suddenly I'm back at the bottom."

Barry rejoined us.

"Man, this pasta salad is great," Jim said.

"Isn't it?" Barry said.

"Hey, what happened to Ivey?" Jim said to Barry.

"He wasn't interested in this one," Barry said.

"Is he in that juicy game at Bellagio?" Jim said.

That juicy game at Bellagio. He said it like I'd say, "They're shooting Leathal Weapon 23 on the backlot today." For the brazillionth time this week, I felt like I was totally out of my element, and equally excited to be in whatever element I am.

"Yeah," Barry said. "I left that game to come over here, but once Phil didn't get enough chips to really play seriously, he went back over there."

Barry then told us this great story that I've heard before, about how Phil Ivey didn't show up for the beginning of a big buy-in PLO event last year, and Barry spent close to five minutes on the phone with him, convincing him to come out and play.

"I told him , 'It's your best event, man, you have to come play in this,' and I can usually get Phil to listen to me -- because he's the same age as my kids -- so he came down, and of course he won the bracelet."

"Did he give you a shiny gold watch, or a fruit basket as a thank you?" I said.

Barry laughed, Jim laughed (okay, that was really cool) and he said, "No. Phil is the same age as my kids, so whenever I talk him into doing something he doesn't want to do, I get, 'Thanks, Dad.'"

Now we were all sort of conversing as fellow parents, and I was able to finally grok something we've talked about.

(Aside: An older fellow with a thick Brooklyn accent and white hair beneath a straw hat just walked up to me and said, "This pasta salad gets five aces." He thought for a second and added, "that's the best you can get, isn't it? I mean, with a crooked deck." I think I'll send him to ask Andy Bloch about that.)

"So Cardplayer has you at twelve thousand now. Is that right?" I said.

"No, that's wrong," Barry said. "I had six thousand, and I took a rebuy and an add-on to get up near nine thousand."

"Cool. I'll update it right now," I said. "Oh, and Barry? I'm getting really great feedback from people who are reading the blog; it really means a lot to me and the people who are reading my stuff that you're coming in here to give us updates, and let us see the World Series through your eyes."

"Well, I appreciate that," he said. "You're doing a great job writing it up."

I almost didn't add that to this entry, but holy crap did it feel good when he told me that. With Jim McManus -- the whole reason I write about poker in the first place -- sitting next to us, no less.

"Good luck," I said, as he left.

"Yep. Thanks. I'll let you know how I do," he said.

Jim McManus said, "Have you had this pasta salad?"

I pointed to the plate on my left that was empty, except for one red bell pepper.

"Oh yeah. It's the best, isn't it?" I said.

"Yeah, this is incredible." He said. Then he glanced at his watch and said, "Oh shit. I have to get back in there!"

"Good luck, sir," I said. "Have fun."

"Thank you," he said as he stood up and walked toward the door. About halfway across the room, he called back, "Stop calling me sir!"

I began to turn my notes into, well, this.

About thirty or forty minutes later, Barry came back in.

"Uh-oh," I said.

"Yeah," he nodded. "I'm out."

"Ugh." I said. "Sorry."

"I had a wrap against Fischman's aces when all the money went in," he said. "It was pretty even."

I wrote, Wrap vs. Fischman's pair of aces. It was pretty even.

"Do you want the hands?" He said.

"Yeah, that'd be really cool," I said, amazed that this man, who just busted out of a World Series bracelet event came back into the suite, specifically to share with me -- with all of you reading this -- how he was eliminated, and it wasn't to tell one of the legion of annoying bad beat stories I hear people shouting into their cell phones or grumbling to their friends every ten feet in the hallways, either.

"I had king of diamonds, jack ten of hears, and the nine of clubs," Barry said. "Scott had the ace of spades, the ace of clubs, the jack of spades, and the three of diamonds."

I wrote all of this down.

"The flop came queen of clubs, eight of spades, six of clubs, and I have twelve direct outs: two jacks, three tens, three nines four sevens. He bet at it, and since there was already a lot of money in, I called. I was essentially a race, and he won the race."

While I wrote this down, I watched Barry look away and to the roof, and I could see that he was seeing the cards in his memory. I thought that was cool, because it's something we all do, too.

I said, "I gotta ask you, how do you remember it all so clearly? I mean, I can see the cards on he felt and everything when you describe it." I realized the answer to my own stupid question and added, "I know it's what you do but . . ."

Barry said, "Well, not only is it what I do, and not only can I see the cards there, but by the time I get in here to tell you about it, I've already written it down in the book that I signed."

"You signed a book for Fischman?!" This cracked me up.

"Yes," he said with a slow nod, "yes, I did." His response cracked me up even harder. I know I can't convey it; you really had to be there to enjoy the maximum funny.

He headed out of the room before I could ask him if he was going back to the big game at Bellagio, but I'm pretty sure that's where he'll end up before the end of his day.

Humberto Brenes just sat down with some of the soon-to-be-legendary pasta salad, on a break from the other pot-limit Omaha event. He says that he doesnt have too many chips, but they're near the money. To me, that means he can tighten up and cash, but to him, that means he can pick on guys like me to make it past the bubble with a nice stack in front of him. (Late note: Humberto did, indeed, increase his stack and pass the bubble. Duh.)

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker