For Barry Greenstein to win today, it was going to take more than just his exceptional poker skill. It was going to take getting a little lucky, and, frankly, not getting unlucky.
Beginning with the second-shortest stack at the table, Barry was still nauseous after losing more than half his stack in the final two rounds of play last night.
“I’m still sick about yesterday,” he said just before he sat down to play.
Still, there was a smell in the air just like before a Midwestern thunderstorm. There was electricity in the air and there was a chance Barry could just pull off a comeback worthy of his reputation.
The one thing Barry didn’t have to worry about was outlasting Thor Hansen. On the very first hand, Hansen was all-in for his final 40,000 chips. I wondered how sick a feeling it was for Hansen to begin this event with 100,000 and start the final table of the richest event yet this year with less than half of that. PokerStars’ Swedish blogger, Lina, has arrived in Vegas and told me Thor had been playing in today’s $5,000 short-handed no-limit event that started at noon.
Hansen’s time at the table here didn’t last as long as it took the Tournament Director to introduce the players. It’s was a Stud-8 round and Hansen departed in eighth place.
Barry actually caught a good break by picking up the button on the first hand of the Hold’em round. With 30,000/60,000 blinds with 60,000/120,000 betting limits, Barry’s 750,000 stack was vulnerable to the blinds alone.
He folded the first several hands before finally raising under the gun. He got a call from Amnon in the big blind. The flop came 7sJc7d. Amnon checked, Barry bet out, Amnon mucked. It was a quick 150,000 chip pick-up that gave hope to Barry’s sweaters on the rail.
Now in the big blind, Barry folded his 60,000 forced bet after David Singer came in for a raise. However, once in the small blind, Barry refused to give up when Amnon raised from the button. The flop came down Kc6c8c. Barry checked, Amnon bet out, and Barry raised. I’d seen him check-raise a lot yesterday but had yet to see him show one of the hands down. This time, Amnon called. The turn was the ace of spades. Barry surrendered, check-folding to Amnon’s bet.
It’s was mid-afternoon Thursday, the time when the crowds have left on Wednesday but not yet arrived for the weekend. Still, there was a buzz around the packed TV stage. I hoped it would be a buzz that led Barry to picking up some chips pretty fast.
After calling John Hanson’s raise in the big blind , Barry check-folded on a QdQc3d flop. That hand left him with around 300,000 in chips, barely enough to get through one hand. He lost half of that after raising from the button and then calling Kenny Tran’s small blind re-raise. Kenny bet in the dark and Barry folded quickly on a 7dAcTh flop.
Now, I though, there were only two stories left. Either Barry would be out soon or we we’re about to see the greatest comeback in poker history.
When the game switched to Omaha, Barry ended up in the big blind. When Bruno Fitoussi came in for a raise, Barry put in his last 140,000 Barry held AhKs8s4s to Bruno’s AdJcTh6c. By the end of the hand, Bruno had made aces full, but Barry had an eight-low and survived to chop up the small blind.
After folding his small blind on the next hand, Barry put in all his chips from the button. It was a three-way pot with John and Amnon.
The flop came down 9h9sQh. On the turn, 9d, Amnon bet John out of the pot. Amnon held AsQdJs6h to Barry’s AhTc4s5h. Barry needed a heart on the river.
Barry seemed to sense what was coming. He grabbed his copy of “Ace on the River” and pulled out his marker to sign it.
“Put away the book!” Freddy Deeb implored.
In response, Barry pulled out the lucky chip Chris Reslock gave him last night and sat it on the rail.
The river…was the four of clubs.
The TD bid him goodbye with a clever, “Let’s give a big hand for Joey Sebok’s dad!”
Greenstein signed his book for Amnon and headed for the cage. His seventh place finish earned him $259,296. This was his second final table of this year’s World Series.
Congratulations, Barry, on another great run.