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Sam Greenwood Skips Most Of WSOP, Makes Deep Run In Main Event

Canada’s No. 2 On All-Time Money List Says Main Event “Not As Stressful” As High Rollers

by Julio Rodriguez |  Published: Aug 28, 2019

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Everyone knows that Daniel Negreanu sits atop Canada’s all-time live tournament money list, but the no. 2 occupant might surprise those who haven’t been following the high roller scene over the last year.

Sam Greenwood is in the middle of a monster year on the circuit with $5.6 million in earnings, enough to see him jump from the no. 6 spot to no. 2 over 2010 World Series of Poker main event champion Jonathan Duhamel. The 30-year-old Greenwood has been a staple of the high roller tournament community, having recorded at least $2 million in cashes every year for five years.

The Toronto native’s 2018 was particularly successful, with a win at the MILLIONS Grand Final Barcelona for $1,240,000, and at EPT Monte Carlo for another $1,839,200. He then closed things off with a fourth-place showing at the Triton Jeju series for $1,471,421.

So far in 2019, Greenwood is determined to top his 2018 campaign. His trip to the Bahamas for the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January resulted in a massive win for $1,775,460. He then returned to Triton Jeju for a runner-up finish worth $1,040,000. A third-place score at EPT Monte Carlo was good for another $819,314. He then closed out May with three more final tables at Triton Montenegro, cashing for a combined $1,983,150.

Greenwood, whose brothers Max and Luc are also seven-figure winners on the tournament circuit, now has more than $18.7 million in career live tournament earnings.

After taking most of the summer off, Greenwood made a deep run in the World Series of Poker main event and was arguably the best player remaining when a bad beat sent him to the rail in 45th place.

Card Player caught up with Greenwood to talk about his year so far, why he skipped most of the WSOP, and how his approach changes between high roller and smaller buy-in events.

Julio Rodriguez: You were among a handful of high roller players who seemed to pass on most of the events this summer at the Rio. Was this a planned break?

Sam Greenwood: I got [to Vegas] on [July] 1, and the $5,000 six-max was the first event I entered. There’s just so much poker now. I worked it out. I think from the first day of Monaco, through Montenegro, through SCOOP/Montreal, I think I played poker the entire time. I honestly don’t think I had a day off. So, while everyone else was getting pumped up about the WSOP, I kind of felt like I had already been through the summer [grind].

The other issue is that Canadians have to deal with the withholding tax, which is a headache. Sure, I can come out here for the big tournaments, and deal with it for $25ks and $50ks, but why bother with a $1,500 no-limit event? I could just stay home and fire up a few $1k tournaments online and not have to deal with the taxes.

JR: The time off doesn’t seem to have hurt you too much, with a deep run in the $10,000 buy-in main event. How do you approach a tournament like the main event differently than a high roller?

SG: I think in the [lower buy-in] tournaments, you are less concerned about being balanced, and more concerned about finding exploits in people’s games and going after them.

For example, if you think someone is c-betting (continuation betting) too wide in a Triton event, and you just start check-raising everything, the real smart players, the good players… even the businessmen, they will start adjusting. They’ll start c-betting less, or they’ll start three-betting flops.

But in a tournament like the WSOP main event, you’ve never played with these people before, and you’ll probably never play with them again, so you might as well do whatever you think works best in the moment and get as many chips as you possibly can in that situation.

JR: Does that mean that a tournament like the main event is a nice mental break from your usual grind?

SG: It’s not as taxing. It’s definitely not as stressful. As you get deeper in the event… sure, it might get more difficult, but it doesn’t compare to most high roller tournaments. The only real stress I might feel is if I come across an unfamiliar spot and I’m not quite sure what to do.

I mean, when there are 9,000 people, you play your best game and hope for the best. There are no expectations, so it’s a much more casual game. In a high roller, you are constantly on guard, and completely locked in. All of the little things in a high roller are so important. You are constantly worried about what you are giving off when you have guys such as Ike [Haxton] and [Scott] Seiver at your table. You make a mistake there and it could cost you a blind, and it’s a disaster. But in a smaller buy-in event, it’s not as big of a deal. You can just get it back.

JR: Do you find it more difficult to lock in for smaller buy-in tournaments?

SG: I might not be as locked in, but I think players with strong fundamentals can keep their floor quite high. I’m never to the point where I get bored and decide to raise 7-2 offsuit from under-the-gun just for the fun of it. I can still stay disciplined, even when the stakes aren’t as high as I’ve become used to over the years.

JR: You passed Duhamel for the no. 2 spot on Canada’s all-time money list in May, and are no. 25 overall. Is that something you pay attention to?

SG: I do pay attention to those things. (laughs) The two things I will say… It’s a little disappointing because Daniel [lives in the U.S.] now, and he’s quite a bit ahead of me. But I’ll have a shot given how the money list has been trending. There’s going to be a lot of movement with all of the high rollers, and leads that once looked insurmountable can be caught with just a year or two run, like we’ve seen. And that’s not to say that it will be me, either. You look at a guy like Tim Adams. If I go on a downswing for a couple months, and he just plays his normal game, he will pass me. It’s nice to be no. 2, for the moment, but I also know I can’t get too caught up in it. ♠