Barry Greenstein is a Play Money Champ
“Barry Greenstein spotted at the play money tables. Is he busto?”
This is something that would not be all that weird to think is someone saw him playing online lately, but don’t worry about Mr. Greenstein. He is doing just fine. In a recent interview with PokerListings.com, Greenstein talked about how and why he has become a prolific play money internet poker player.
Greenstein, while not really making poker headlines nowadays, is one of the most accomplished poker players in the world. He has two World Poker tour titles, three World Series of Poker bracelets, numerous other deep runs in tourneys, and made loads of appearances on televised events back when TV poker was a thing in the United States. He is best known as the “Robin Hood of Poker,” has for most of his poker career, he donated his tournament winnings to charitable causes, while earning his own income from cash games. In 2006, though, he adjusted that system slightly, deciding to donate only his net earnings from tourneys. He explained his decision, telling PokerListings at the time, “Until now, I was donating the pay-off each time I cashed but I can’t afford to continue doing that. I didn’t anticipate the growth and expense of tournament poker.”
It seems odd that someone as successful as Greenstein would frequent play money tables for any other reason than just to mess around, but he has a reason for doing it. He has to.
As he told PokerListings at the 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, as a sponsored PokerStars pro, he has an obligation to make appearances at their tables. Problem is, he lives in Los Angeles, so he cannot play for real money on the site. He can, though, compete at the play money tables, so he and Stars agreed that spending three to five hours per week on those tables would be a reasonable way to be seen by PokerStars customers. Chris Moneymaker, who also lives in the United States, does the same thing.
Greenstein didn’t fancy spending his hours online in the play money cash games, so he began entering tournaments. As it so happened, he found a lot of success in those play money tourneys.
….I started playing in play-money tournaments and I played the one with a 1m buy-in, which corresponds roughly to $5 if you wanted to buy that much play money.
I also started to play the Sunday Billion, which is the play-money equivalent of the Sunday Million except player fields are about 800 to 900 players. And before you know it, I won one, and only a couple of weeks later I won it again.
He explained that his motivation in the tournaments was simply to last a long time, as there was no financial incentive. “But then what happens if you last long enough in a tournament you want to reach the final table. And within a relatively short time I had two wins and two seconds,” he said.
Greenstein said that his view of play money poker isn’t really any different than it was before he gave it a shot, but he added that there are plenty of play money players who are quite good, especially as the stakes get higher. “….it keeps my game fresh,” he said.
He also noted that when there is no money at stake, players tend to be nicer to each other.
When he is not trying to win billions of fake chips, Greenstein makes living at the cash game tables at Los Angeles-area card rooms.
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