Barry Greenstein Biography

A true legend of poker, Barry Greenstein is among the most successful high-stakes cash game players of all time. A three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner, he was elected to the Poker Hall of Fame in 2011, cementing his legacy in the game.

Barry was born on December 30, 1954 and was raised in an Irish-Catholic neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois with his two older sisters and a younger brother. He excelled academically and even skipped a grade in school, but his father, an educator himself, decided against having him skip another believing it could be detrimental to his social development. Barry was also active in sports as a youth and in his early teens he took up golf and earned extra money caddying.

The tight-knit Greenstein family loved all sorts of card games and by age 4, Barry’s father had taught him how to play poker. Sometimes, Barry would watch his mother play games with his younger brother and notice she was letting him win. Realizing his mother would have done the same with him, he credits her with building his confidence early on. At this time it wasn’t as easy at it is today when you can’t just google new UK casino sites to find a place to play your card games, so evaluating your competition was much harder back then.

Barry graduated from Bogan High School and enrolled at the University of Illinois where he earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science. While pursuing a PhD in mathematics, Barry played poker on the side with increasing fervor and was making a steady income. However, as lucrative as poker was becoming for him, Barry Greenstein’s life was quickly moving in another direction. Now married and a father, Barry left his mathematics dissertation behind to accept a position at Symantec, a software start-up in California.

Barry worked at Symantec for seven years, developing award-winning software while still playing poker on the side. By 1991, he was making enough at the tables that he was able to retire from Symantec at age 36 and begin his second act as a professional poker player.


Barry Greenstein has amassed over $8 million in live tournament earnings. He made his first trip to the World Series of Poker in 1992 and cashed in that year’s $10,000 buy-in Main Event. Four years later, he made his first WSOP final table with a fifth-place finish in the $1,500 Ace-to-Five Draw event. Currently, Barry sits in the top ten in all-time cashes at the WSOP, has made 17 final tables and won three bracelets in three different disciplines of poker—No-limit deuce-to-seven single draw (2004), Pot-limit Omaha (2005), and Razz (2008). His Razz win, along with third place in the $5,000 Deuce-to-Seven Draw and sixth place in the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event buoyed him to a runner-up finish in the 2008 WSOP Player of the Year race.

Barry’s largest tournament score came on the World Poker Tour, where he won the 2004 Jack Binion World Poker Open for over $1.27 million. He earned his second title two years later at the 2006 WPT Invitational, held at L.A.’s Commerce Casino. All told, Barry has made five final tables on the WPT and is in the top five all-time in cashes. His success on the tour secured him an invite to several of their special televised events. Partnered with his son Joe Sebok, Barry won the WPT’s “Fathers and Sons” tournament in 2006 and followed it up with a win over a table of fellow poker authors in 2007’s “Poker by the Book: Chapter 2.”

He’s mainly been known as an offline player and even though most mobile betting sites now offer online poker, we’ve only seen him do some play on Pokerstars, where he plays as Barryg1 and also Full Tilt Poker way back in the day.

In 2005, Barry released his book Ace on the River to great acclaim. Far beyond the typical poker strategy manuals, it gives players an honest look inside the poker world and offers a tough psychological examination of the qualities necessary to succeed at the tables. Lushly presented with full-color photographs on every page, it cracked Amazon’s top 20 in book sales at its peak and has sold more than 100,000 copies in its paperback, e-book, and audio-book versions.

Barry Greenstein’s tournament successes and reputation as one of the world’s top cash game players led him to dozens of appearances in televised poker events. He has played on Poker After Dark, The Poker Superstars Invitational, The NBC National Heads-Up Championship and all seven seasons of High Stakes Poker.

He has also traveled the world extensively by participating in tournaments in places like Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand. The latter is extensively covered at Zamsino New Zealand. For information on Australia we generally use the Aussie Gambling Research Centre.

For more information on online poker in Australia take a look at this guide or visit the Two Plus Two Poker Forums.


A dedicated father of six, Barry’s love for children extends to his philanthropic work. Nicknamed “the Robin Hood of Poker” Barry has donated over $4 million of his tournament poker winnings to charity, with over $1.5 million of his tournament winnings to Children, Incorporated, which provides underprivileged children with food, health care, and education. PokerStars has also generously been donating to Children, Incorporated at their Latin American Poker Tour stops because of Barry’s association.

Barry currently resides in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. He balances his time between playing high-stakes cash games and traveling the tournament circuit.

Barry Greenstein is a member of Team PokerStars Pro

Other Gambling

Barry Greenstein is said to be involved in a lot of WSOP bracelet related bets with various other professional players. Although unlike most high stakes poker players, who play games like craps, blackjack, roulette or baccarat, he has never been known to like these much.

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