The second-best thing in life

January 22, 2014

People know I’m not much of a whiner when I get knocked out of a tournament or take a bad beat in a given hand. I’ve always joked about how the last time I ever complained about losing was when I was 17 years old.

I lost a pot and was griping afterwards. That’s when an old road gambler said to me, “Son, what are you complaining about? You’re doing the second-best thing in life — playing poker and losing.”

Ever since then I’ve taken the point of view that if I can go around and play poker, it’s still kind of a good life. So I never complained about it when I lost. Indeed, last year I was occasionally writing about how I was trying to enjoy myself as I traveled — that even if I got knocked out of tournaments, I was still going to appreciate the places I was able to visit and have a good quality of life.

Well, last year I did maybe too much of that second-best thing. So this year I’m looking forward to doing the best thing — which is, of course, playing poker and winning.

I’m like most people in that I always think at the start of a new year it’s going to be better than the year before. For those of us who play tournaments we begin with the PCA, then the Aussie Millions, and then go to the Commerce.


Like everyone else who played the PCA Main Event, I was hoping to make a deep run. But I faced a problem early on in the tournament where an opponent played a hand kind of oddly and made kind of a strange either defensive bet or value bet against me, and I’m still disappointed I didn’t just move in over the top of him on the river.

The fact is in tournaments you don’t have to be right all of the time when you make a speculative aggressive play. As a matter of fact, you probably don’t even have to be right more than half of the time because you’re usually going to win more than you risk. But if you are right slightly more than half the time, you can build a big stack.

This year, then, I plan on either busting out early or building big stacks more than I have in previous years. I screwed up my opportunity at the PCA, but I’ve got the Aussie Millions and the Commerce coming up, so look for me either to be knocked out the first day in those events or to be among the chip leaders.

That’s my goal this year — we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully it works out, and after spending last year enjoying doing the second-best thing in life, this year I’ll be enjoying the best thing.

Barry Greenstein is a member of Team PokerStars Pro


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