2007 World Series: Why the long face?

June 28, 2007

With the bubble now a twinkling sprinkle in the air, the work of making the final table in the $50,000 HORSE World Championship began. Sixteen players, most all of them easily-recognized pros. ESPN, ever watching for a good story, switched up the TV table. Team PokerStars Barry Greenstein found his way to the eight seat.

I’ve watched Barry play more hands than I can count in this World Series. Unlike some players who wear their emotions like holographic tattoos–Mike Matusow comes to mind–Barry Greenstein’s expression rarely changes. He looks sour, dry, and unaffected by anything.

In the Razz round, Barry didn’t appear inactive. Rather, he appeared measured, perhaps like he didn’t care to get involved in big hands in such a gut-cutting game. Still, while looking ever the sour puss during the Razz round, by 5:30 pm local time, I can see the hints of a smile when he’s not in a hand.

The smile foretells something else. From an outsider’s perspective, it’s like Seven Card Stud is favorite season in five part year of the HORSE. When this round began, either two things were happening. He either slipped easily into a great rush of cards or stomped hard on the aggression button. For a while, it seemed like he was completing the bet on 75% of the hands and taking most of them down. Only Bruno Fitoussi (who yesterday told Phil Hellmuth he didn’t give a diddly squat about the money) had the stones to call Barry down on on a hand (and that was after Barry gave up on fifth street.

When the bust-outs where coming as regular as desert wind gusts, most people were predicting Day 4 would be a short one. As we entered the Stud-8 round, I started to think the opposite. Although there are only 14 players remaining in this event, getting rid of final six before the final table will be a challenge.

Greenstein’s son, Joe Sebok, appeared on stage for a moment and beckoned his dad into the shadows. I tired to make out what they were talking about. Was Sebok asking for advice or was it something else? ESPN was curious, too, and a boom mic appeared. That was when the conversation was cut short. Some things, obviously, are best left between a father and son.

As the Stud-8 round drew to a close, the Rio’s emergency alert system went off with strobe lights and sirens.

With millions of dollars still at stake, no one stopped playing.

At the break, Greenstein sat third in chips with more than 1.3 million. Greg Raymer still has work to do. He sits in tenth place with 600,000.

The fire alarm has ended. Now, it’s time for the levels to go up and start playing some hold’em.


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