Saturday, July 16, 2005

Barry Greenstein Part II

When I left off, I'd just gotten to know Barry a little more personally at Foxwoods. He'd given me the Stud tournament tip of a lifetime; give yourself a chance to win.

After Foxwoods, Barry and I talked a bit here and there, mostly via Two Plus Two (Blogger won't accept the plus key, for whatever reason).

In late January, I had a horrible run at Commerce. It was so bad that I knew I needed to revamp my entire game, both cash games and tourneys.

I came home from the LAPC as angry as I've ever been. Angry at myself, no one else.

I wrote to a few of the best players and/or teachers that I know. Barry was one of them. Barry said that he didn't have the time to mentor me, but he did give me his honest opinion on my play. I thanked him for his candor.

Not long afterwards, he wrote me back, saying he felt bad that he couldn't help me more, and wanted to send me a draft of his book, to see if that could get me out of my rut. He asked me not to tell anyone that he was sending it to me, not to talk about it at all, until he gave me the word. I kept that promise, and didn't discuss the book with anyone, although I really wanted to, because of the treasures hidden in the text.

I was expecting the book in about a week or so, but to my surprise he paid extra to have it delivered overnight. The ironic thing is that it couldn't have come at a better time. I'd just gotten his book and read the first 40 pages or so, when the doctor called to tell me I had cancer. What a shocker! In fact, Barry had just written to me asking about the book and my opinion. I sent it off, and within five minutes of sending it, telling him the doctor had just reassured me that I most certainly did NOT have cancer, he called back to say I DID!

Anyway, Barry wrote back and was completely supportive, although I was in shock, and alone, and he probably realized I needed someone to talk to.

Barry thought that the funniest thing to come out of the whole debacle was that when I was in shock, I wrote him saying, "So I suppose I'll be having surgery in a few days, but this will give me time to finish your book."

He wrote back with, "I can tell you'll be OK because of your attitude. Not many people could be diagnosed with cancer and point out that there is one good thing: "this will give me time to finish your book."

Since that time, Barry has told this story again and again. I wasn't even trying to be funny, or brave, or anything. I think I was just in shock and didn't know what to say!

I finished reading the book in just a day or so. I thought it was fantastic, myself, but immediately realized that there would be a segment of serious poker players who wouldn't get as much out of it as I did.

When I read about people bashing Dr. Al's book, it usually has to do with players who don't understand psychology in poker, or don't believe in it. There have been many posters at Two Plus Two over the years who have just flat-out stated "there is no psychology in poker." So for that group, they are obviously not going to be fully supportive of a poker psychology book.

Barry's book is highly psychological, IMO. I had a feeling it would be, because of things he has written and said in the past. It is like Dr. Al's book taken to a completely different level.

Barry's book also deals with hands that he feels he misplayed. He gives examples of a hand, the proper play based on many different interpretations of the situation and mathematical conclusions, and then how he played, or misplayed the hand in the end. Not many poker experts are willing to put themselves out like that. Many of them would have you believe they play perfectly all of the time. Many of them would also have you believe that perfect play has to do solely with numbers.

A "general strategy" poker player, who truly believes that poker is like 21, and there is a basic, general strategy that is correct in almost every situation, every time, I doubt will be singing the praises of Barry's book. Barry assumes that you know the correct mathematical play, but that you have to make advanced decisions when you don't have that crutch to lean on. His book isn't for beginners. He will also make you take a hard, long look at yourself. Why you play poker, what kind of personality you are. Like Dr. Al's book, if you don't like what you see reflected in those pages, you most likely will not like the book, nor will you get much from it, condemning it as a pop-psychology book which has no place in poker.

If you truly want to see poker from every angle; the good, the bad, the ugly, and are completely open and honest with yourself, this book will teach you things you have never considered before. I learned a lot of things about myself. Why there are certain aspects of my make-up which will prevent me from playing the highest limits. Why there are other aspects in my personality which will allow me to be a small winner at most levels in cash games.

While it was a disappointment to be shown my own image so clearly, it was also a relief. It was the perfect complement to Dr. Al's book. It will allow me to be the best poker player I could ever be, should I wish to advance that far, but it also stripped away any illusions I had to achieve being a future "Barry."

Fortunately, there are many players who truly believe I could beat games as high at 400/800. While 400/800 might not be 4/8k, it is high enough for me! So I got a really good look at myself, while reading Barry's book, and in my mind, that is what it takes to call a book a big hit!

In closing, Barry kept in touch with me even after I'd finished his book. He asked me to keep him informed of how things are going, what is happening with my treatment.

I am the type of person who respects this kind of request immensely. Most people pay lip service and simply act like they care, when they couldn't care less. To be singled out and specifically asked to keep someone up-to-date on my condition, is a huge honor. Not because Barry is a high limit poker player, but because Barry is a human being. Barry is a human being who CARES. He is not a fair-weather friend, he is true blue and there for all seasons.

Felicia :)