2008 World Series: A chat with Barry Greenstein

When most people win a World Series bracelet, the post-game schedule is pretty clear. It starts with photos and interviews, continues to a bar, and then ends with a great night's sleep.

Team PokerStars Pro Barry Greenstein is not most people.

It's not been twelve hours since Greenstein won his third World Series bracelet. His victory in the $1,500 Razz event was followed by the obligatory winner's photo and then a quick sprint across the room to the $10,000 Limit Hold'em Championship that had been in progress all day. Over the course of the evening, Greenstein had been spending his Razz breaks tending to his stack in the Limit Championship. His entry into the $10,000 event was a calculated one.

"I have side bets on bracelets, so there is incentive on me to play," he said. "I didn't expect the Razz final table to last as long as it did."

It's pure Greenstein. He never seems to stop. He was able to keep his stack above zero in the Limit Event and will play Day 2 today. He still had a few hours to reflect on his third bracelet.

"Even though I was more experienced than my opponents, I could have easily gotten knocked out anywhere along the road," he said of his final table run in the Razz event.

Because of that possibility and the side bracelet bets, Greenstein hedged and entered the $10,000 Limit event. If he got knocked out early, he would have a seat in the Limit event. And if he didn't, well there was the matter of winning a bracelet. Somehow, as is often the case in Greenstein's world, he ended up with the best of both worlds.

It's only been a few days since Greenstein came tantalizingly close to winning the No-Limit 2-7 Draw bracelet for a second time.

"The 2-7 No-Limit looked like a very easy win for me," he said, noting the small field and his vast experience in the game. To his disappointment, he ended up finishing third. "I got a pat ten and Jeff [Lisandro] drew out on it and that ended up being my undoing."

And so he moved on to the Razz event, where he never looked to be in serious trouble. Razz is just one of the games Greenstein plays well. In a side game, he is hard to match. Razz tournaments, however, are a different beast. "It's not like side games where you get to sit patiently," he said.

Still, the skill was there and took him to the final table, where nuance went out the window. Experience and a friendly deck pushed him all the way to the bracelet. "It's kind of hard to rate how I played compared to my opponents, but I got the best cards. I went on a sick run," he said.

Anyone who follows Greenstein's accomplishments will likely note he seems just a little different his year. It's for good reason.

In years past, it was not uncommon to see Barry Greenstein awake...always. Never one to pass up value, Greenstein's MO in the past several World Series was to play tournaments all day and side games all night. If he slept, it was in the few hours he could catch when the side games broke or tournaments had dinner breaks.

"Normally I play all night and start a tournament on no sleep," he said. "This year, the side games are not as good."

So, Greenstein is taking the extra time to catch a few z's and spend time with his kids. While five hours in bed a night is not enough to support most humans, for Greenstein it is a luxury that is bearing valuable fruit. He is one of several pros who have big time side bets on who will win World Series bracelets.

"Getting some sleep and playing these things, it means I am going to make some final tables," he said.

He's already done it twice this year and looks to do it some more. With just a couple of weeks until the main event, Greenstein has a full schedule in the meantime. His calendar is already marked for the events where he feels he has the best chance to win a bracelet: $5,000 Omaha 8/b , $10,000 PLO Championship, and $50,000 HORSE.

The poker media have already dubbed 2008 as the Year of the Pro. For Greenstein, that is a distinction that doesn't mean a great deal. His confidence and experience mean whether it is Year of the Pro or Year of the Little League, he will be playing as hard as he can to win another bracelet.

And this year, he's doing it with a good night's rest and another bracelet to his name.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker