Thursday, July 10, 2008

Barry Greenstein Talks About Cheating In CardPlayer Interview!

In an interview with Cardplayer Magazine, noted poker pro Barry Greenstein talks about cheating.


Despite successfully surviving into day two of the 2008 World Series of Poker main event, Barry Greenstein has been nursing a short stack since the day's official "shuffle up and deal" announcement. However, Greenstein's long career of tournament experience is bound to weigh heavily in his favor when evaluating his chances of navigating his way through short-stack play.

Card Player caught up with Greenstein during the dinner break of day 2A to discuss his strategy for avoiding elimination.

Alex Porter: Last time we talked your circumstances were quite different. It was during event No. 39, $1,500 no limit hold'em, and you were among the chip leaders. During our conversation you gave me a sort of Greenstein primer to large stack tournament approach. At this point of the main event, your situation is almost the complete opposite. How does Barry Greenstein play a short stack?

Barry Greenstein: Well, I've been staying out of the way. I've had 10 times the big blind basically the entire day, which is short-stacked. Everyone at my table currently has 100,000 or more. I'm actually at my high point for the day, 22,000, so I've luckily gotten up to 20 times the big blind. It's still not breathing room because if anyone raises in I'm still in a move-in-or-fold mode. I don't have to open for all my chips if I am the initial raiser.

I'm trying not to play pots where there's no fold equity. I just made a questionable fold in the big blind with ace-queen. There were two strong European players to my right. One raised and the other reraised. They both had a lot of chips, so I gave them credit and laid down ace-queen. Instead of playing that pot, I raised on the button when no one else came into the pot and I also raised one to the right of the button.

So mostly what I've done the whole day is pick up the blinds when I'm in late position. I've just survived. I haven't really had many good hands. I got lucky the one time where I was all in with an ace-seven against a king-jack. By staying out of people's way, I haven't been able to play hands like small pairs, mid-range suited connectors, and suited aces in early position. I consider those drawing hands. I'm hoping to get ace-kings, ace-queens, and big pairs, but I've only gotten a couple of those the whole day.

AP: I did notice that there were occasions when you still open for a standard raise despite your short stack where a lot of inexperienced players may have elected to shove it all it. What were your thought processes with that play?

BG: I'm not sure if you noticed, but it's been a function of how much I have in front of me. When I'm 10-times the big blind or less, that's usually the barometer I use. I have been putting in my whole stack, but the times I've only been making a normal raise are because I've had a little more than that. I've been fortunate to have pretty passive players to my left the whole day who have let me get away with picking up their blinds. That's allowed me to survive.

AP: I did notice a span of three consecutive hands where you raised a standard amount and received a call from a player in a blind who check-folded to a single bet of yours on the flop.

BG: I've just been lucky in those situations. A couple of times I was unlucky earlier, and that was how I got short. This last time I was lucky that I raised in and they called and blanked on the flop. Frankly I didn't have much of anything either, but betting will give you a shot to win the pot if nobody hits anything.

AP: Right now you're seated at a table in the edge of the Amazon Room's green section, making you right up against the rail. I've noticed that several of the pros sometimes consider the crowds they attract to be a distraction. Do you agree?

BG: The spectators don't bother me because frankly they're always nice to me. However, one of the problems as I've gotten older is the way I have to hold my cards to see them. I'm nearsighted, so I can see them up close. So people on the rail can often see my cards. Although I've never had any reason to suspect anyone of cheating or anything like that, if I have a flush draw and hit it someone behind me might raise their hands and cheer! Most of the people on the rail are actually rooting for me because spectators tend to root for the players they know.

AP: But so far no messy situations?

BG: No. It's not like there's ever been anyone on the rail who has been mean to me. They're always friendly. It's more that generally you want to be the only one seeing your cards. I have no reason to suspect that anything's ever happened against me.

There is one exception that could easily happen. There are other players at the table and I'm sure they often have their friends watching. If they have one of their friends behind me I don't anticipate that they're going to cheat, but maybe at the break they'll say, "Barry had such-and-such a hand." It might help them out where they would otherwise not know what I was doing.

AP: Like the ace-queen fold you mentioned earlier.

BG: Yeah, exactly. Someone might see that and then say, "Hey, you can push him around still. He's not going to commit his chips unless he really has the goods." With the stack I have, I'm generally not going to be a caller. I'm going to be the one with the lead either moving in or as the initial raiser.