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Barry Greenstein Talks Staking as Poker Stars’ Big Game Premieres

PokerStars Pro Talks About the Details of Televised Cash Games


A promo video for The Big GameTonight, the eagerly anticipated Big Game will finally premiere. Card Player caught up with PokerStars pro Barry Greenstein at the World Series of Poker to talk a little bit about the new show, and just how much staking goes on at these televised cash games.

“I personally have never been backed or sold a piece of myself,” said Greenstein, speaking about High Stakes Poker and the new PokerStars show, which airs tonight at 2 a.m. on FOX in most locations. “The ones who do sell pieces are usually the young guys; they have a network. The older players are used to being on their own.”

The The Big Game will not be available to all American viewers unfortunately; it depends on whether your FOX affiliate decided to carry the show. Click here to find out if and when the show will air in your area.

Unlike High Stakes Poker, which aired new episodes once a week, The Big Game will be a daily show with new episodes debuting each week night, similar to NBC’s Poker After Dark.

“Cash games are what poker is,” said Greenstein, explaining why cash games on TV seem to be especially popular amongst the hardcore poker fans. “That’s how [most poker pros] make their living.”

Ever since Chris Moneymaker won the 2003 WSOP main event on ESPN, there has been an explosion of poker-related programming on TV over a variety of channels, including the ESPN family, NBC, FOX, FSN, GSN, and BRAVO.

However, most of the content revolved around premiere poker events such as the World Series of Poker, World Poker Tour, U.S. Poker Championship, or Aussie Millions, or tourney-style sit-and-gos with pros and celebrities. High Stakes Poker, on the Game Show Network, was the notable exception — featuring some of the best pros in the world competing in a high-stakes, high-action cash game.

Barry GreensteinThe Big Game is adding an amateur element to a high-stakes cash game, allowing a freeroll winner from its site to participate in a six-handed high stakes cash game with five of the biggest names in the game. PokerStars will give the amateur $100,000 to play with; any profit the amateur makes, he or she gets to keep.

While the amateur gets to play with house money, the pros on the show have to make other arrangements. Often, a player will receive an appearance fee for competing on the show, but that usually represents just a fraction of a buy-in for these cash games.

It is unclear how much (if any) compensation a site likes PokerStars or Full Tilt gives to its pros for competing on these high-stakes cash games. On High Stakes Poker, players are prevented from wearing poker site logos. That restriction is not in place for The Big Game.

Greenstein says that some players, mostly the younger ones, sell pieces of themselves to other pros so that they don’t have so much on the line personally for every single hand. He admits that he might even be at a disadvantage for not selling pieces of himself, but says he has no problem with other people doing it.

“With the economy as it, sometimes [not selling any of myself] can put me at a disadvantage and affect my play,” Greenstein admitted. “But there’s no problem with players doing that as long as it’s not to someone else at the table.”

Anticipation has grown for the new poker show ever since a hand between Phil Hellmuth and the amateur at the table was leaked to the public last week (spoiler ahead).

You can watch the hand below, or read about it after the jump.

In the hand, Hellmuth gets his money in good against the amateur, as an 85%-15% favorite, when he hits trips against his opponent’s lonely over-pair. Hellmuth lets the player know that he can run it more than once to hope to win some of his money back, and they decide to run it four times. The amateur loses the first run but, improbably, he wins it in each of the three final runs.

What makes the hand even more riveting (and controversial) is the visible glee and celebration of Phil Laak, Tony G, and Daniel Negreanu as Hellmuth loses the massive pot. The players also accuse Hellmuth of slow-rolling the amateur, which Hellmuth denies.

While he wasn’t asked about those players’ specific actions, Greenstein told Card Player that these televised cash games are just simply unlike any others. He admitted playing differently because the cameras were on, while not always factoring in “the TV effect.”

He references the classic hand during High Stakes Poker, in which he got “posterized” by Tom Dwan, as Greenstein has said.

Dwan wound up bluffing Greenstein off pocket aces and Peter Eastgate off trips to win with the third-best hand on that episode of HSP. Greenstein says his failure to take into account the TV effect and what that might make Dwan try to pull off was the reason he lost that hand.

“I think I definitely screwed up on that big hand against durrrr, when he bluffed me off of aces and bluffed Peter off of trips,” said Greenstein. “I should have factored in that this was a televised game, and that he was more likely to be doing something like that.”

Watch the high-stakes pros go at it again tonight on FOX at 2 a.m. with the series premiere of The Big Game.



12 years ago

A very unlucky result for Helmuth on this hand, yes he may have played a marginal hand too aggressive pre-flop but the bottom line is he got it all-in as a 6 to 1 favorite after the flop. If someone like Dwan or Negreanu makes this play they would be praised for it and instead Phil gets criticized. I find it ironic watching Negreanu act like a high school kid in cheering for Helmuth to lose as a 6 to 1 favorite. It really shows me what he has become, a losing player relegated to cheering for other professionals to lose along with him. And the funny part is he says Phil is an aweful cash game player, anyone watch High Stakes this past season?


12 years ago

thats a rough beat


12 years ago

I hate to bring this up BUT.... DN said "there will be NO sunglasses on The Big Game" but it appears that Phil Laak is wearing tinted prescription shades. What's up???? "just sayin".


12 years ago

Daniel is having fun and supporting someone "Rookie" like us IDIOT.

He is not acting like a kid.

I love Daniel. He is a great poker player and a great person even in real life as we met in Bahamas and he was extremely friendly to me and even took a picture with me and my girlfriend compared to many pros there who were so stuckup.

So back off and appreciate someone like Daniel.

He might have a lil bad luck recently but noone can compare to his resume of what he has done so far in poker and for poker.


12 years ago

Whoever rights Joe Stapleton's material missed their calling as a elementary school janitor...Stick to radio where you can say what you actually feel, its a lot more funny that way.


12 years ago



12 years ago

I don't think Hellmuth slow rolled Wiggin. He did put on an act though.

That Wiggin, loose cannon, guy play so bad on the night they showed K-K and Kd-Qd the next night. I honestly don't understand how he survived all other players to make it up there. Making a pretty bad call with Kings on flop and ran so lucky. Then he tight up which he should as a less skilled player after winning that huge pot. But playing K-Q suited, top pair decent kicker with an open ended straight draw like that is simply very weak. I honestly would have put Wiggin on a value bet when he bet on the turn with a 2.5k or 25k bet if he didn't show to have so little skills all day.

Daniel picked on the rookied all the time, always raise him, and bluffed him. Surely DN ran hot, and I know that you suppose to do whatever it takes (or legally take) to win in poker. But, DN was relentless in beating up and push around the loose cannon. Even Brunson checked a hand when Wiggin was begging.

So, since Dn showed no "compassion" to lower skilled players when playing with them, I now feel no pity when DN gets kill on High Stake Poker since he's almost always the weakest player at the table. Have fun getting slaughter on HSP DN. Looking forward wo watching you loose.


12 years ago

definitly a slow roll...he just didnt know it cuz he's insane


12 years ago

Greenstein is one of the best. The best to me is simply those who last for a long period of time by making their living from poker.

The helmuths and Negreano are not that good. They mostl likely make more money from endorsements.

I use to think it was an act. But I really think Helmuth really thinks he's the best in the world. He's one of the worse i've seen. I've never really seen him win a cash game before.