Nicknamed ‘The Robin Hood of Poker’, Barry Greenstein has been racking up million-dollar cash game wins for years
I would have loved to have become a doctor.
After I got my PhD in mathematics I considering applying to medical school, but then my kids were born and so I decided against it. Once you have a family all you can think about is how to make money to support them. I knew I could make better money faster by playing poker.
I don’t mind being called the ‘Robin Hood of Poker’.
There is a lot of money being thrown around in the game. I hope that when people hear this name it makes them realise that some of this money can be used to do something positive. The most I ever gave in one go was $440,000 to my favourite charity, Children Incorporated. I’ve heard people say I’m only doing it to make myself feel better, but how can there be any downsides to helping poor children? I’m not judgemental at all if people don’t give to charity. Most poker players need their winnings in order to play and support their families. It’s only when you’ve made enough money to look after yourself and your extended family that you can really think about giving it away.
I’m a glass-half-full person.
I think you have to have an optimistic outlook to play poker. You have to assume that if you do the right things and you plan correctly, then you will be successful. Of course, poker will beat you down at times, but if you can’t overcome adversity then you simply won’t be successful at this game.
I don’t feel so confident about cash games nowadays because stamina is so important.
In my younger years, I was a good athlete and that always carried me through. But, as I have gotten older, I have noticed things are different for me now. I don’t have a careful diet anymore and don’t work out. It’s tough, but these days I have to make sure I don’t play for 24 hours straight.
I’ve considered quitting during the bad times.
When you’re losing, you become convinced poker is all down to the luck factor, but when you’re winning, you’re convinced it’s all down to skill. When I’m winning it feels like everyone just wants to give me their money. Then, I’ve had periods in my life when I’m losing and it feels like my advantage isn’t big enough. I’ll say to myself: ‘How can anyone make a living doing this?’
I expect to win. As a consequence I never get as high from winning as I get low from losing.
Losing makes me feel terrible and I’ll spend hours alone thinking about what I could have done differently before I can get it out of my system. Fortunately, my girlfriend and my son are both poker players so they understand. Of course, there are two different ways to lose. The easiest way is when you play okay, but get unlucky. The one that hurts the most is when you lose because you play badly. It’s tougher when you’ve got yourself to blame.
I don’t get tense playing poker.
Ever since I first played in a big televised event I realised that because I’m so laid back, if anything’s affecting me then it’s affecting my opponents more. Once I realised that, my tension just disappeared.
If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to a young Barry Greenstein, I’m not sure he’d even listen.
I was a very confident young man and I think we have to experience the ups and downs of life in order to come to our own conclusions.
I normally advise people who want to be a poker professional to put their energy into something more productive.
I explain that I have played cards since I was a young child. I am a mathematician. I am well-versed in psychology. I am very easy going, yet very competitive. In short, I believe I have the essential qualities to be a good poker player. But even with that, it has not always been easy. Even if you’re successful at poker you could be missing out on something else. I always advise the younger crowd to get an education first, but it’s a hard one to sell. There are so many young kids making money in poker that it prevents them from pursuing other careers.
I see poker as a positive factor in world peace.
People are getting together all round the world and even though they are competing against each other, they are still getting along.
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