PokerUpdate.com contributor Robbie Strazynski caught up with PokerStars Pro and Poker Hall of Famer Barry Greenstein at the 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas and talked about a wide variety of topics including what is “pokertainment” and the only thing that beats live streaming on Twitch on Sundays! Check it out for yourself!
And be sure to stick with PokerUpdate here and on Twitter @PokerUpdate to get all the updates at the 2016 PCA!
Hi everybody, this is Robbie Strazynski and we’re here at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure 2016. I’m here with Barry Greenstein. How are you doing, Barry?
I’m doing fine. Good to meet you.
Very good. Likewise, sir. Thank you very much for your time. Barry is a Poker Hall Of Famer, and you don’t meet many of those around. It’s a very exclusive club, and obviously, as someone who’s been around at least since the Moneymaker Boom, right? No, since a little before.
A little bit before that.
Just a little bit.
A little bit before, not the Moneymaker Boom, but the Moneymaker birth. I was playing poker before that, I’m sure.
As someone with obviously a very unique perspective, we’ll try to pick the brain of Barry Greenstein and see how our recreational poker audience – guys just like me – can learn from someone who’s been in the trenches, been to the top, and knows what it’s like to experience poker success. So, away we go. Do you feel that perhaps some of the tournaments here at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure are a little too gimmicky? Are gimmick tournaments good for poker? Is that something that’s going to attract new people to the game?
I hope people enjoy it. I think the way you can tell if something is too gimmicky is if they don’t get many entrants. The buyers really determine the market. I’m not sure if Neil Johnson is the one who put together this one, but he does the stuff in Europe a lot.
Tournament Director, right?
Yeah, Tournament Director for PokerStars. I remember one year he had something that he liked which was 5 different triple draw games or something like that, but maybe they only got one table’s worth of entries. So, even though he liked it and it sounded like a good concept, they didn’t get enough people. One of the things that makes it hard to measure here is that they try to squeeze, what, a 100 events?
That’s in 10 days?
So that’s so many, and they overlap. Some people will want to play in something but they’d rather play in something else. So it’s hard for us to measure, but what PokerStars is doing, is trying to find out what people do like. So it’s not just that we’re forcing it on the players, we’re taking a real survey in a funny way if you look at it.
Oh right, so it’s a little experiment?
It’s always experimental. That’s just how it’s done and I think PokerStars should be doing that. So I agree with the concept, and the ones that don’t get many people in, then you throw them out and try something else.
It’s not just a $100,000 super high roller. They’ve got these $120 events that anyone can play in.
Well, that’s the other thing, at first people say: “Well, 100 events, that’s ridiculous,” but there’s something that SCOOP taught us. SCOOP was such a great invention.
Right, the Spring Championship Of Online Poker.
When someone came up with that, as opposed the WCOOP – which was the flagship group of tournaments – where you had tournaments with three different buy-in levels. I remember when they came up with that I said: “I wish I would have thought of that idea because I was kind of involved at that point.” It was such a great idea to have tournaments at different price points. Well, that’s what’s going on here too. We have very many different price points. There’s $120 buy-ins up to $100,000, so we have many different levels.
Yeah, I was about to register for the $100,000 but they said: “That’s it, registration is over.” I would have been right there in the winner’s circle.
I hate when that happens.
Barry gets it!
Anyways, there are many different levels for different bankrolls. So it’s not really 100 tournaments, if you think about it, for a guy who’s got a lot of money there are probably only 5-6 events, and for a guy with a little bit of money there’s probably fewer than 10 events that he might buy into.
But they’re all relevant. It’s all the different variants.
That’s right, so if you sort it out that way it’s not as absurd as it initially sounds.
I hear that. Well, that’s good, there’s something for everyone here at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. Well, let’s shift gears for a second. Let’s talk about poker entertainment. You and Joe Sebok, your son, co-founded PokerRoad back in the day. It was a one-stop shop for poker entertainment.
Wait, wait, wait. You’ve got to say Pokertainment!
Because that was the word.
That’s right. Joe Stapleton and others are all debating who came up with the word ‘pokertainment.’
We’re looking at him.
It wasn’t me, but PokerRoad was the hub for pokertainment.
Okay! So, having done that in your past, my question is: What is your view of recent trends in pokertainment – live streaming, Twitch, that sort of thing? That’s the type of thing that people seem to be really interested in, and also, we do other little web shows, and interviews like these. There’s a lot more content out there. What is your view on this kind of poker entertainment that’s starting to see the light of day?
Well, I was on Twitch myself, and I did it many weeks in a row. Because I was in the United States I could only play the ‘play money’ events, so I played what they call the Sunday Billion.
Not the lottery that they’re doing right now?
Right, that’s the other Sunday Billion.
Or maybe that will be the Wednesday Billion. Anyway, I had a decent following of people who had a good time and had a lot of fun. They don’t even know the reason I haven’t been doing it.
Alright, what’s the reason?
Outside of laziness – which is always there – I think I stopped after the WSOP, and there was football on Sundays.
I didn’t want to be doing the thing on Twitch and also looking at my TV and stuff like that, and I enjoy watching football.
You’re from Chicago, right? The Bear?
I’m from Chicago, yeah.
Yeah, who I bet over six and a half wins and found a way to end up at six and lose several close games.
It’s like a needle. They probably knew that Barry made the bets.
Right, but anyway, I didn’t want to do a bad job and that’s what it comes down to. I want to give people my undivided attention.
So you’re saying that we can expect you, at some point in the future, to get back on the Twitch horse?
I will definitely get back on the Twitch horse when we get real money poker back in the States.
Because people who are playing for real money are outcompeting me in the Twitch Universe. One guy that comes to mind is of course Jason Somerville – who I guess is the Twitch Master.
Jason Somerville! Yes, he peaks on Twitch, that’s right.
That’s right, so I want to give him a run for his money, but I think that people would rather watch real money play, than play money play. When I twitch my play money tournament, the question I get asked the most is: “What the heck are you doing playing for play money?” I get that question in the stream over and over again. They don’t realize that I’m in the United States and that’s what I have to do.
That makes sense.
I even have a guy, and I anointed him my spokesman, where for the questions they always ask – that being the main one – he would answer for me so I wouldn’t have to keep answering them.
Aha, I see, he’s got Power of Greenstein-Attorney there. Well, you must have seen the questions because that was one of my next questions – PokerStars has received a license to operate in New Jersey, so I imagine over the coming year or so – or whenever PokerStars is ready – they will enter the US market for real money gaming, do you see yourself taking part in promoting that? Or, to quote Jason Somerville, maybe Twitching from a dirty basement somewhere?
I feel like I’ve been on hold. I don’t know if you follow American Sports, but there was a lockout in the NBA years ago.
Sure, of course.
Basically in the United States we’ve had a lockout. I’m fortunate that PokerStars is still paying me some money during the lockout, and it was an understanding that when we came back in, I would be in the middle of the American scene again. I’m one of the few American pros that we have on Team Pro. I was even at the point where I was ready to move to New Jersey when we had the last debacle where PokerStars was going to buy a casino, because you had to have a brick-and-mortar in place.
That’s quite a sacrifice – having to move to New Jersey! I’m just kidding. We love New Jersey.
I was, at that time, planning to move out to New Jersey and then that whole thing fell through. Now we have a thing with New Jersey again, where we haven’t started up yet but we’ve been approved, but it’s not associated with a poker room. If there was a live part of it, then there’s a chance that I would go out there and be a part of it.
Well, in the meantime you’re obviously continuing to do a tremendous job promoting the game and doing interviews like these.
Well, not so much.
In that case, this is a rare Barry Greenstein interview.
That’s right. I do some interviews, I wear a patch, but I don’t travel to tournaments that much anymore. We keep thinking that the big market in the United States, the big domino really, is California.
As California goes!
California is the most popular State.
That’s why I’m from there. I decided to call myself ‘from California’ because of that.
That’s right. So, I’m hoping that I can still live in California and that we get into California. I play at the Commerce.
Biggest poker room in the world!
Exactly! The other thing is that The Commerce is in partnership with PokerStars. So, they are partners and I’m kind of liaison between the two. So it’s natural that I would be involved. We keep thinking it’s going to get here, and it will, but the question is: When?
You have to use your “One Time!”
That’s right. I thought it would get here before my hair was this gray and I was wrong. Now I’m just hoping that I still have hair when it gets here, but if and when it does, and if I can wheel myself up to a poker table, I’ll be involved.
Very cool! Well, I do have to ask you one last question, and then we’ll go off script for one last question after that. You’re in the Poker Hall of Fame, you know your accolades, and everyone out there knows your accolades – what you’ve accomplished, the bracelets, the money, the championships. As a legend of the game, what sort of goals do you still have as a player, to accomplish at the felt? I’m sure there are people out there who’ve got similar things. What else are your ambitions? What are you looking forward to?
Well, I think for any poker player, winning the WSOP Main Event used to be the thing, now making the Final Table of the WSOP Main Event is as much as you could hope for.
Aaah! November Niner Barry Greenstein.
Not only that. In the early years that I played I had some good runs, but the fields weren’t as deep. I came in 22nd my first time, and then 45th. The year Moneymaker won, I was the chip leader after the first day.
Nobody else can say that, though! There was only one chip leader that day!
Since then I’ve really performed poorly, and part of it is bad play. Part of it is that I have flopped set under set or had KK vs QQ where I had the bigger pair going all in and the guy spiked his card, more times than I deserve.
No one likes hearing the bad beat stories, Barry. I’m sorry.
One of these years, I’m going to have a deep run. So, if not the final table, if not winning it, at least a deep run.
Speaking of deep runs, and nothing at all connected to that, we’re going to ask you a question from a hat. Would you kindly choose one and read it to our audience here at PokerUpdate.com? We’d love to hear your answer.
This seems fixed.
They’re not all the same question.
No, but this one was a lot bigger than all the other ones. Okay, “What is the most overused word in your vocabulary?”
If you’d like, we’ll give you one more question. Up to you.
Let me think. I would hope that it would be a positive word, as opposed to the most overused negative word which is probably ‘ridiculous,’ but the most overused positive word is…You know, I don’t have enough positive words. I think I need a new question. I can’t think of one word. I try to have a diverse vocabulary. I try not to overuse even my adjectives. So I don’t know what the most overused word is. It’s not ‘unlucky’ because I feel I’m a very lucky person.
Well, so am I. I feel that it has been really great to sit with you, Barry, and thank you all for tuning in to this ridiculous interview at PokerUpdate.com.
It’s a pretty ridiculous question you asked me there, Robbie. I don’t know what the heck you’re doing. You gave me the big paper and all of the small ones.
We’ll ask you another one off camera. Thanks everybody for tuning in.
Okay, bye bye!