WSOP Main Event: Poker Ambassadors-- Greenstein, Duthie, Thater, and Brenes

By Dr. Pauly

Poker is now an international game thanks to several ambassadors of poker. Take a look at the players from Team PokerStars in Day 2A of the WSOP championship for example. Barry Greenstein, John Duthie, Katja Thater, and Humberto Brenes represent four different nations and in each of their own unique ways, they have made venerable contributions the poker community.

John Duthie from England was the first player to win 1 million British Pounds on a televised poker tournament. He parlayed his winnings, fame, and experience as an acclaimed producer and director to create the European Poker Tour. Duthie directed British TV programs Hollyoaks and Silent Witness and used his contacts in the entertainment industry to make his vision of the EPT a reality. He wanted to create a version of the WPT in Europe featuring Europe's finest and elegant casinos, with the final event to take place in Monte Carlo.

Since Duthie was both a skilled poker player and involved in the entertainment business, he was in a unique position to make the EPT happen. In less than two years, Duthie helped ignite the poker boom in Europe as his venture has became widely successful. The EPT is player-friendly because it was created by a player. He worked out the logistics of dealing with different gaming laws in several nations and eventually hammered out a schedule that took TV viewers to various places in Europe such as Spain, France, Ireland, Denmark, and England. He's looking to expand to several Scandinavian countries and Italy after negotiations with their governments.

Katja Thater from Germany represents the boom for both women and Germans. After an appearance on a televised poker tournament in England, many poker enthusiasts in Germany became familiar with Katja. She had been playing for five years and started out with cash games. She's turned her eyes towards tournament poker. At the 2006 WSOP, she cashed twice.

She helped inspire other females to partake in poker in Germany and all over Europe. They look at her as an example and inspiration.

"In Germany, the people see a woman playing poker on television and they start to think that maybe poker is not a bad thing," she said.

Humberto Brenes is the Godfather of poker in Costa Rica and is considered the best poker player from Central America. He's become an ambassador of poker to every Spanish speaking country. In his personal life, the jovial and charming Brenes is a successful businessmen in his home country. He owns an Univision television station, a construction company, several restaurants, and used to be involved in the export business of chocolate, nuts, fruits and vegetables.

Humberto Brenes started playing poker with his father in 1958 when he was seven years old. When he was in his 30s, at the suggestion of a friend, he started playing poker tournaments. Brenes applied his business savvy and ability to make excellent decisions to his poker game. Brenes eventually evolved into an excellent all around poker player who has won almost $4 million in his career on the tournament circuit. He always stressed the importance of concentration during tournaments.

"Talent is something that you are born with, but concentration is something that you must teach yourself. I am hoping to have the discipline, skills, and the concentration to win," Brenes once commented about his game.

The always amicable Brenes loves music and he also enjoys singing. He brings music with him to the poker table because it soothes him during tough situations. He even sings to his fellow players at the table.

Brenes is part of the "CRC" otherwise known as the Costa Rica Connection that features his fellow countrymen Jose Rosenkrantz and his brothers Alex and Erick, who are both poker players.

Barry Greenstein has been nicknamed the "Robin Hood of Poker," due to his big heart. He donates all of his tournament winnings to charity. He's raised almost $2 million for Children Incorporated, which is a charity that provides food, clothing, medical and school supplies for children all over the world. He also donates a portion of his prize money to Guyana Watch, a charity that sends medical supplies to Guyana.

What makes Greenstein an admirable person is that he's truly humble and doesn't see himself as a hero. He's just doing what he thinks is the right thing to do.

"It's very easy to do a good deed," he once told me about his gracious actions.

Geenstein is dangerous at the tables and he's considered one of the best cash games and tournament players in the world. He's just not limited to playing NL Hold'em. He regularly plays rotation games in the "Big Game" against legends like Doyle Brunson, Chip Reese, Bobby Baldwin, and Phil Ivey.

Barry Greenstein, Humberto Brenes, Katja Thater, and John Duthie are players who represent what's amazing and good about poker. From Greenstein's charitable donations to Duthie's vision of a European Poker Tour, all of their collective actions, helped bring poker to a wider audience as they spread the positive aspects of poker all over the world.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker