World Series memories: Barry Greenstein's multi-tabling
"There are people counting on me."
I remember Barry Greenstein saying that to me a few years back. It was so antithetical to the well-established poker mindset, it was hard to fit in my head. If you ask most poker players to go out of their way during the most important month of the year to help someone else they might very well laugh you out onto Las Vegas Boulevard.
But that's what Greenstein was saying, and he meant it. He was busting his ass and playing in as many tournaments as he could during the WSOP because people had picked him in fantasy leagues. He knew people had money on him and the last thing he was going to do was get some rest--even if he'd been awake for several days and needed a nap.
It didn't always work out 100% the way it was supposed to. The human body can only take so much. One night in 2006, Greenstein called me to explain his absence in his tournament seat. Turned out, he'd taken a nap at a dinner break and his alarm hadn't gone off. Next thing he knew, his phone was ringing off the hook. He made it back down to the tournament in room to see his last chips blinded off. Greenstein signed his book for the man who won the pot and went off to play elsewhere.
That was an exception, though. The other 99% of the time, Greenstein was seated peacefully at the table. He may have been working on no sleep, but he was working better than most of his other opponents.
Of all the Team PokerStars Pros, Greenstein is among the top two or three most accessible. Despite being one of the world's biggest poker celebrities, he's been very kind to us. He lets us follow him around and is very patient with our endless questions. One of the best moments came in 2007 when Greenstein let us tag along as he played two tournaments at the very same time.
As I wrote in Seventeen Steps with Barry Greenstein...
Barry Greenstein is wearing a comfortable pair of rubber-soled black slip-ons. In a juking running back-style gait, it is 17 of his steps from Table 34 to Table 58. Like Ladanian Tomlinson, his eyes are never set short. He's looking 30 feet away at his next move...
Barry is on the move and wearing a seventeen-step path in the Amazon Room carpet.
Read the whole thing if you want a taste of what it's like to be Barry Greenstein for a day. And if you want to really feel it, remove sleep from your daily schedule and play two WSOP events at the very same time.
It is still one of the most fun moments I've had as a poker tournament reporter.