Poker legend Barry Greenstein joined Poker Life Podcast host Joey Ingram for a 4-hour conversation recently to discuss a broad gamut of topics.

Following are 20 Little Known Facts about Barry Greenstein, along with fellow players and industry representatives that were discussed on the March 25th, 2018 program.

Barry Greenstein Poker Life Podcast Facts (March 25th, 2018)



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1. Barry sold a good deal of his long-held Amazon stock (that he acquired in the 1990s, when Amazon only sold books) to cover remodeling expenses after Black Friday. If he had not sold, his $1 million worth of stock would now be worth about $1 billion. (6:45)

2. Live poker is currently Barry’s main source of income. He plays about 30 hours (or 5 days) per week. He typically plays live games in California at Gardens or Commerce — $60/$120 & $100/$200 Mixed Games. (9:15) (26:00)

3. When Poker After Dark shifted from $50k-$100k buy-in games to $500k, this affected the entertainment quality of the game. Barry suggests Guy Laliberté was one of the only players properly bankrolled for those PAD shows. (16:40)

4. Barry Greenstein was once a poker mentor to Phil Ivey. Barry and Phil once got into a heated poker strategy argument which prompted Ivey to briefly stop talking to his friend. (21:00)

5. Barry says Phil Ivey has become cautious about communicating important information over the phone, and prefers to talk about sensitive topics only in-person. Phil Ivey also became aware of mobile phone surveillance capabilities before most. (24:30)

6. Barry wrote Ace on The River in two years’ time. He would play poker, and then record his thoughts after each session. (48:20)

7. Barry says that the WSOP has been equally responsible for blocking PokerStars’ entry into statewide markets as some tribal gaming interests such as the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. He argues that blocking PokerStars isn’t the best move for competitors because their revenue would be more in a Stars-friendly market even if they would get a smaller overall share of the market. (51:30)

8. Barry believes PokerStars’ iGaming competitors will “go bankrupt” fighting the company’s entry into regulated markets. Barry holds Stars’ competitors more responsible than the site itself for lack of US statewide regulated poker progress. (52:50)

9. Due to a lack of regulated poker in California, Barry Greenstein is currently limited to “play money” games on PokerStars, and has to repeatedly answer fan questions related to why he’s competing for “play money.” (54:30)

10. Barry does not agree with the PokerStars rake changes and calls it “problematic for me.” Barry’s original deal with PokerStars allowed him to implement new games on the site (such as “Triple Draw”). Barry had a deal with former PokerStars owner Isai Scheinberg that the rake wouldn’t be increased above the rates of competitors. (55:40)

Isai Scheinberg Barry Greenstein Facts

Isai Scheinberg: Former PokerStars Owner

11. Barry Greenstein argued against the elimination of the PokerStars VIP Club rewards program, but admits that he no longer has the influence within PokerStars that he once did. (58:00)

12. Barry has now adapted his stance to accept that PokerStars/WSOP rake increases haven’t resulted in fewer customers. He also suggests that poker operators (both live and online) should continue to consult with actual poker players before making “poker related” decisions. (59:30)

13. Barry still believes that “professional” poker players are more valuable to cardrooms as game starters than some industry representatives believe. Isai Scheinberg used to lurk the TwoPlusTwo forums to get user feedback. Barry no longer has the power within PokerStars that he once had, and typically has to take concerns to VP of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser, who then takes the concern higher-up before it gets dismissed. (1:01:00)

14. Barry once had to get a “regular job” and stop playing poker full-time in order to win custody of his step children. (1:04:50)

15. Barry once received a 3:00am call from Isai Scheinberg asking for clarification on a hand Phil Ivey played during the WCOOP. Isai frequently observed online poker action due to his love for the game. (1:06:50)

16. Barry Greenstein spent $500,000 USD out of his own pocket to lobby for online poker on both a federal and statewide (California) level. He also argues that regulatory costs take so much money out of the industry that players suffer significant financial consequences as a result. (1:08:20)

17. Barry believes that “beatable games” isn’t a binary argument. He then points out that roughly 5% of poker players were long-term winners years ago, but now that figure has decreased. (1:09:10)

18. Barry thinks Daniel Negreanu is “more afraid” to “not defend PokerStars” than other Team Pros. Barry also relays that he can no longer afford to donate significant sums of his poker earnings to charity because — unlike Negreanu — he does not make a comfortable living from PokerStars sponsorship money. Barry has an understanding with PokerStars that he “will advocate more for the players.” (1:11:40)

19. Barry thinks PokerStars’ recent communications regarding micro MTT rake increases came off as “trying to pacify” certain players. However, Barry insists that PokerStars personnel does “listen” to players. (1:15:35)

20. One way that PokerStars was able to detect bots was because the software “clicked on the same pixel” for every action. Barry acknowledges that poker bots have gotten a lot smarter now, and goes on to explain how PokerStars once historically hired legitimate experts within the industry, even if they were critical of the site (such as Michael Josem and Serge Ravitch). (1:18:20)

Watch More Archived Poker Life Podcast Episodes

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Vivian Saliba Poker Life Podcast Recap (Nov 25, 2017)
Jason Mo Poker Life Podcast Recap (Mar 20, 2018)
Sam Simmons Poker Life Podcast Recap (Mar 15, 2018)

SOCIAL MEDIA CONSIDERATION (TWITTER): @barrygreenstein, @joeingram1