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Barry Greenstein - Let Them Play
He's one of the most recognizable faces in the game today. So it's no wonder Barry Greenstein was one of a group of pro poker players who marched on Washington this month in an attempt to convince the U.S. government to reverse its stance on online poker.
Since Barry is having such a good run here in Niagara Falls (above the average chip stack for most of Day 3), we figured it would be a good time to ask him a little about his game and discuss the trip to the U.S. capital and his new audio blog on Victor Ramdin, Andy Bloch, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson and myself. We met between 30 and 50 politicians - I don't know how many because we split up.
But we met with senators and congressmen and we just laid out why we think most people play poker and why they should be allowed to do that. I was trying to make a point that it's a mathematical, psychological game and intelligent people play this game for entertainment and for a living. It's not all underage people and compulsive gamblers. They are a very small percentage.
Your typical guy at home, that's what he does for recreation, he plays poker. When he gets off from work he doesn't play 12 hours straight. He plays a couple hours, goes to bed and it's the same as say, watching a movie. The typical guy has a few hundred in his account. To deny him that personal freedom - frankly the country is based on that. That's why there is an America, so we can have those personal freedoms - [so] to deny him that because someone may abuse that, it just makes no sense.
And the congressmen and senators you met with seemed receptive?
One thing that we got a really clear idea about, talking to staffers and talking to congress people, and I don't think many people realize this, is that us coming to Washington was a good thing, but they were really clear that the more they hear from their constituents, the more they will move in our direction.
So, if people write letters to their congressperson, and honestly, I've never written to my congressperson or anybody else that much for that matter, but they kind of have a thing where if they get a few hundred letters from their constituents who say they want to play poker in their own home then [legalizing online poker] is a done deal.
I think it's a done deal anyway, but that means votes to them. It's clearly the right thing to legalize poker. I'm not a real pro-gambling advocate, believe it or not, but it's clear that is the way it should be. Let people do what they want in the privacy of their own homes.
Sounds like you are convinced we could see the U.S. back online fairly soon?
I've said six months. I'm not that knowledgeable about how fast things move through Congress, but we met with [Congressman] Barney Frank and he said you get enough people to vote that way - and we met with over 30 members of Congress who said they would - and he'll put it up.
I also understand you've become involved with a new Web site pokerroad.com. What's that all about?
We call it pokertainment. We don't feel like we are competing against anyone. Even you with PokerListings; the things you put up and do well, whether it be live updates, chip counts, news or blogs, we don't want to compete with that.
We just want to add to it. We have a lot of entertaining stuff. I've got an audio blog where I talk about what's going on. Gavin (Smith) and my son Joe (Sebok) have their radio show...There's a lot of fun stuff.
Speaking of the Internet, can people still find you playing online at PokerStars?
I represent PokerStars and usually at PokerStars I play the tournaments on Sunday if I'm at home or the nightly $100 or $65 tournaments. I don't usually play the cash games all that much, but I will get on there sometimes and talk to people.
I seem to like the sit-and-go's and the tournaments more, because to me, tournaments are fun even if they're not for that much [cash] because you can hit a big score and let's face it, whatever you want to say about PokerStars compared to other sites, PokerStars is tournament central. They have the best tournaments and I don't think anyone disagrees with that.
I'm certainly not going to disagree with Barry. Sounds like he's got friends in high places in Washington and if his predictions are correct, it won't be long before every poker player in the United States has as well.