Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Live Poker is so Rigged

This week on High Stakes Poker (on the Game Show Network - if you're not watching it: START!), the players are dealt what has already been advertised as the last hand of the night. Not the last hand of the hour long show, but the last hand before the game breaks for the night. This is a high stakes cash game, with Danny Negreanu, Jen Harman, Eli Elezra, Barry Greenstein, Todd " Sean Sheikhan is an idiot and he'll probably lose all his chips" Brunson, Sean Sheikhan, Sammy Farha and Jerry Buss.

So Greenstein wakes up to AA. Blinds are $300-$600 with a $100 ante, and he raises to $2500. Farha, in the BB, looks down at pocket kings, and re-raises to $12,500. Barry makes it $62,500 to go, and Farha starts to think. He can't believe this is happening: he knows Barry isn't just fucking around - but can he really be running into rockets on the last hand? Now, in a tournament, Barry can make this play with a range of hands. He had $190,000 to start the hand, and barely had Sammy covered. However, one of the most interesting things about this high stakes cash game is how quickly you realize that when big money goes into the pot, people have big hands. Barry has AA, KK, QQ or maybe AK.

Farha thinks for a long time, and finally moves all-in; about $120k or so more for Barry, who calls. First of all, I started thinking: can Sammy just call here? he knows he's either way ahead (vs queens) or way behind (vs. aces) - but maybe he's just in good shape vs AK - in which case a re-raise is mandatory to shut Barry out. I guess he'd rather get the money in now, unless he has every intention of folding to a flopped ace - which, if Barry had QQ would be a disaster, and if Barry had A-K would also be a disaster to let him catch.

Anyway, Barry calls of course, and Sammy knows he's up against aces. Sammy offers to deal 2 five card boards, but Barry declines. The flop comes king high, and Barry, to his credit, never flinches, even though there is over $360,000 in the pot. Now Sammy again offers to deal the turn and river twice, but Barry declines. The turn and river blank off (Barry had a backdoor flush draw on the flop), and Sammy rakes a monster pot.

un-fuckin'-real. Barry Greenstein, true professional, doesn't make a peep. One other interesting thing about Barry: the WSOP and WPT broadcasts lead the viewer to believe that, like Paul "Dotcom" Phillips - Barry is an internet millionaire who plays poker now that he's loaded, and thus can afford to donate all his winnings to charity. Well, Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King - the story of the super high stakes cash game played in Vegas by a syndicate of pros vs. businessman Andy Beal tells a different story. Barry did NOT get rich at Symantec - and made/makes his money playing poker. He DOES give a ton of money, including most of his tourney winnings to charity - but this is out of the goodness of his heart - not because he's so loaded that he doesn't need the cash.

Kudos to Barry.



Anonymous said...

In Barry's book, he says he was a "key employee" at symtantec, but that he actually made less money there than he had made playing poker full time. He was a pro poker player before he took the symantec job, but he wanted to do his part to help his wife maintain custody of her children/his stepchildren, and "poker player" does not look good when attempting to convince a court that your home is a good environment for children. So he got a tech job.

After the kids were older, he left Symantec to return to poker full time.

Joe said...

Barry is a class act.

You also gotta give it up to Daniel N. for making some monster laydowns against Farha.
Lesson on playing a maniac: When he gets quiet, likely holding a monster.