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Barry Greenstein – The Robin Hood of Poker

Barry Greenstein, a poker superstar, said he would answer some questions from PokerMoments!!

Barry has a ton of things going on in his life, so don’t expect the interview right away. But rest assured, if Barry says he’ll do something, he’ll do it.

You see, Barry is known as a real mensch, ethical, humble, unassuming, gracious, generous, and compassionate. These virtues might explain why he donates ALL his tournament profits to charity – around 3 million so far – and is known as The Robin Hood of Poker.

Barry is not considered just a good person. He’s also known as being very intelligent. In his younger days he was called the Perfessor by some of his fellow players, because at the time he was teaching math at the University of Illinois while he was doing graduate work in the field (I’m curious to know what his Ph.D. thesis was, but I won’t waste a question on that). He designed an award winning piece of software for the company Symantec. He speaks Vietnamese. Barry has also written a poker book, Ace on the River: An Advanced Poker Guide. untitled.bmp

I did some reading up on Barry, because I want to ask him questions that he hasn’t answered elsewhere. So I read a few interviews (see here and here and here), and I also read most of his book. I didn’t read the last part that deals with poker strategy, because I’m not an advanced player, and therefore I don’t have the poker skills or patience to appreciate it.

The first thing you’ll notice as you thumb through the book are the glossy photos of famous poker sites and players and other poker-related things. I’ve never seen a poker book like this – it would make your coffee table proud. Some of the photos are really striking. I would have liked the places and people in the photos to be identified, but perhaps this would have detracted from the visual aesthetics.

The photos definitely made the reading of the material much more enjoyable for me. But even if there were no photos, the writing is very easy to digest. Barry keeps the chapters short, writes clearly and succinctly, and tells interesting stories and anecdotes about his own poker life as well as the poker lives of others. You can easily finish most of the book in a few hours.

Throughout the book, Barry gives a lot of advice about how to be a good poker player. Some of this advice has to do with psychology. For example, he describes 25 psychological characteristic traits that he thinks good poker players possess. One of these is being attentive to detail. After reading about this, I realized that I’ll never be a good player. Kind of sobering.

One of my favorite features of the the book are the quotations, many of which are located in the beginning of each chapter. Barry has lots of them, and many made me laugh out loud (that’s LOL for those who don’t speak English). Here’s one from Homer Simpson on the front page of chapter titled “Holding on to Money”: “A fool and his money are soon parted. I would pay anyone a lot of money to explain that to me.” In discussing the callousness of people in the gambling world, Greenstein tells the story of what Cheryl Davis said to her boyfriend Pugsy Pearson when he asked her if she would still love him if he was broke. “Of course I’d still love you. I’d miss you too.”

The fact that Barry agreed to answer some questions for Poker Moments is the reason I read most of his book. However, it isn’t the reason why I’ve said positive things about it. I really enjoyed it. If you’re looking for an entertaining poker guide, then look no farther than Barry Greenstein’s Ace on the River: An Advanced Poker Guide. Maybe after you read it, you’ll move one step closer to the point where you too can take from the rich and give to the poor.

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