Saturday, July 23, 2005

Barry Greenstein Part III, Conclusion

Please read Part One and Part Two before this post.

After chatting back and forth a few times via e-mail, I finally saw Barry again at the Bellagio, during the opening days of the series. I was there for the $1500 Stud event, trying to earn my buy-in playing 20/40 and 40/80 Stud.

Barry was in Bobby's room with his son and girlfriend. I'd met his girlfriend before, but only knew about his son via the recent Cardplayer article.

Barry smiled his face splitting grin, and gave me a big hug. I'm not the touchy-feely type, but since my brush with cancer, and meeting the nicest people in the universe, I've become much more tolerable of big hugs and other displays of affection. Players I never would have touched before I'm suddenly finding myself giving a squeeze on the arm.

I met Joe, his son, whose introduction ended up to be a big, revolving joke by the time the series was coming to an end. Barry forgot he introduced me to Joe the second time we met, so he introduced me again. We all laughed about it, and then it became a custom for Barry to keep introducing me to Joe, over and over again. Eventually Joe and I would just shake hands and say, "Pleased to meet you" every time we saw each other, and all of us would get a laugh out of it. I know, little things amuse stupid people like me ;)

I couldn't play the $1500 Stud event. I had worn myself out trying to do too much in Vegas that first trip up to the Rio. Oh, well.

The next trip was when I realized that Charlie wasn't going to make it. Oh, the hurt that spread throughout my body was overwhelming.

Fortunately, I had found a mission, and that took up my time, instead of dwelling on such a depressing turn of events. Jason, Charlie's best friend, had the idea that if Charlie could hear from Marcel Luske, it would make his day, his week. I copycatted the idea, thinking that if hearing from one pro was a good idea, hearing from a dozen was many times as good. So I went back to Rio with that mission, and no other goal in mind, not even caring if I ever played a hand of poker.

I was so happy to see Max Pescatori deep into the money. Barry had already busted out of the day's event (5k NLHE), but we played together the next day in the 1k Stud 8.

I was busted out early, but Barry was probably the chip lead right before the dinner break. I asked him about calling Charlie, and he immediately agreed to do so. While he was eating dinner, I left Charlie's home number, and his mother's cell phone. I was feeling too weak to stick around the Rio, so Glenn and I went back to our hotel room.

True to his word, Barry called Charlie the next day, as promised. He said he was really worried that Charlie wouldn't make it the 2-3 weeks that the doctor had given him. He said Charlie sounded very ill. Right off the bat, Barry promised to send Charlie a copy of his book, and on top of that, the first book off of the press.

I was so impressed with many people at the Rio, and Barry remained one of them.

Unfortunately, I had to go home that day. I'd let myself get too weak again.

On Sunday, June 19th, I was sitting at home reading the series coverage. Sharla was covering the PLO event. There were about 100 players or so left. I told Sharla to go over and tell Barry to hurry up and win this one for Charlie. I was just joking around, as if Barry could magically eliminate 99 players in a rush and instantly win the thing.

That is exactly what he did, and by the time I made it back up to Rio on Monday Barry was heads-up. It didn't take him too long to win it, and I was there for the last hand. Barry immediately asked for the microphone and dedicated his win to Charlie. Barry's family and I were looking at him, so overwhelmed. I think all of us had tears in our eyes.

Barry kept insisting he needed to get back to the PLHE tourney he was playing. He still had chips, letting himself get blinded down while he was playing the PLO final table. He didn't want a whole bunch of pics and interviews, he just wanted to walk away. Although he said he wanted to play the other tourney, I think most of us knew that he was pretty overwhelmed by the whole thing, and that he simply didn't want to talk about it.

I kept running back and forth between sweating Barry, and telling some of the media people about the Charlie story. I urged them to write it up, to spread the good will, not to try to make it into some sensationalistic drama. Many of them took me up on it, and I was cheered by their willingness to "share" a scoop.

On Tuesday I told Barry that Charlie was unable to talk on the phone any longer, but had a laptop and was able to be propped up during the good parts of his day, and was chatting a bit online. I also kept thanking him for his kindness, and saying that because of him and so many others, Charlie's days were filled with joy. Barry kept brushing me off, telling me it was nothing, because that is how Barry sees his part in things.

Wednesday was a hard day. I had to inform Barry and many other players that Charlie had passed on. I felt obligated to do so, but it was one of the hardest trips I've ever made around a poker room. Barry was saddened, but knew that many people had done their best to make things as good as possible. He was glad to hear that Charlie had read Nolan Dalla's article before he died, and that it was so special for him.

Here are some of the stories that were written about Charlie, and Barry's outpouring of kindness to strangers:
True to his word, Barry did send the first copy of his book to Charlie. The inscription read, "This is the first book off the press. It was promised to Charlie Tuttle, the poker blogger who inspired me to win a World Series of Poker tournament."

I wrote to Barry thanking him for everything that he did. I got a trademark reply that is so typical of Barry, and pretty much sums up everything he is about, "People always give me loads of credit for small things I do."

The last time I saw Barry, his son Joe had just made another final table! I watched Joe as he busted out in 5th place. Barry was definitely a proud parent, although he tried to brush it off saying something like, "Thank God, I've had to pee for hours!"

As Joe cashed out of the event, and they were all leaving the Rio, I told Barry that I probably wouldn't see him for a few months, but that I would definitely keep in touch via e-mail. We said our goodbyes, and his family left for the evening.

A few minutes later, I was talking to a friend in the tournament area and Barry came rushing back in. He said something like, "I didn't want to leave until I gave you a 'real' copy of my book, instead of the draft I sent you in March."

He suddenly gave me a big hug and wished me the best. Then he left.

That is so much like Barry. Always thinking of others. I knew he really wanted to get out of the Rio, but instead he made a special trip back in, just to give me another copy of his book.

Later, I read the inscription. That is something I'll keep to myself, but one thing that touched me is that he was glad I kept him advised of "the important things."

To Barry, the important things are others. His friends, his family, not how much money he can make off of other players. The goodness in his heart and spirit will last a lifetime. Like he has said before:

"It's very easy to do a good deed."

Felicia :)