Sunday, July 03, 2005

Barry Greenstein

This post is going to be a work in progress, as my ever deepening friendship with Barry is also a work in progress.

Sometimes I realize that I give off the wrong vibes while talking about my friendships with the top players. I tend to repeat the same things time and again when I'm in shock. Maybe it comes off as bragging, I don't know. I do know that several readers have looked me up on my constant referral to some of the top players. The reason I mention them so much is because I'm simply shocked that they are decent human beings, lol.

I think I'm also stunned that I actually fit in with them. I'm used to being an outcast, someone who isn't really accepted in any form of society, even a subculture like poker.

But enough with the apologetics. I'm always doing that, and many have complained (not that I give a crap, but I do realize that I tend to ramble on and on trying to provide some stupid disclaimer).

I met Barry last April at the series. It was my first event, the $1500 Stud event. I'd won a satellite for my seat, and it was the biggest tourney I'd ever played in to date. I was nervous has heck, although I had long passed the trembling stage, in any game. I played so tight that if I had kings and an ace raised up front, I quit the hand. I must have played 10 hands in 9 hours, lol.

For a full write-up of this event, please see this entry.

I was turned off and turned on at the same time by Barry's play. On the one side, he amazed me by pulling the old Johnny Moss trick, looking like he was asleep, then raising when "woken up" and told it was on him. He later told me most of the time he really was dozing off during hands, due to playing high stakes cash games all night.

He seemed to have very little emotional investment in any tourney. I supposed that was because he gives his winnings away. Although he definitely wants to win, for charity, he doesn't knock himself over the head if he loses a hand, or gets eliminated. He just gets up and goes, with no whining or accusations.

Most of my regular readers know about my utter confusion regarding top players and their distaste at looking at their hole cards when the bring-in is on them. That is how Barry was crippled by me, and soon after eliminated. I felt he had a good chance of cashing until that hand, and it baffled me for six months, until I got to talk to Barry about it.

Nothing is ever as simple as it seems, although I'd like to think so. I make assumptions which are sometimes so off base, only to find out later that I was wrong all along.

I didn't see Barry again until Foxwoods, although I'd "talked" to him a few times on Two Plus Two. We chatted a bit during breaks at FW events, then were seated together in the main, 2k Stud event. I wasn't really happy to be seated next to Barry (at least I was on his left), but this gave us a chance to talk, at any rate.

During a break he told me more about my incorrect assumption that WCP don't look at their hole cards when they are the bring-in because they feel they can outplay anyone later in the hand. He corrected me by saying that in a Stud tourney, many chances must be taken in order to win. One of the chances a player takes is that he might actually have a hand when he is the bring-in. He memorizes the doorcards, chucks in his BI, and then watches the action unfold. When the action returns to him, he checks his hole cards, and if he has a hand, he limp-reraises.

Sure, sometimes his lack of checking first costs him a pot, but more often it builds him a bigger pot, and gives him a chance to actually win a tourney, instead of just surviving for another hour, while raking in the antes. That is where I went wrong. I won little pots, never putting myself out on the line to win.

Barry said that although there is always a small chance that you will be outdrawn by "playing to win," most of the time you will put yourself in the position to win a Stud event. And if you never take a chance, you can never win.

Boy, did he have me pegged. I've never taken a chance, and I've never won, never even cashed in a big Stud event.

So with that five minute lesson, Barry taught me an important Stud tournament concept. One I'll never forget.

Felicia :)