Barry Greenstein Biography



Barry Greenstein - The Robin Hood of Poker

On December 30th, 1954 Barry Greenstein was born in Chicago, Illinois. He was raised in the right conditions to be a poker player. His father did quite well playing poker while in the army and passed on information to his son at an early age. Barry's mother took the time to play cards, mostly gin, with him and his brother everyday when they came home from school. The most important thing Barry learned from his parents was generosity. They did not have a lot, but when someone was in need they always gave what they could.

By age 13, it was commonplace for Barry to be winning $50 a night at home games. His family did not intend to raise a gambler. Barry was very smart and did very well in school. He had developed his own computer software by the age of 15. When Barry turned 20, he let his mother know he decided poker would be his profession. She was shocked with this news. He had been doing very well at the University of Illinois and was starting on his Ph.D. in mathematics. His mother asked, "How did this happen?" which caused Barry to laugh and remind his Mom that they did play cards together everyday he came home from school.

After ten years of raking in money from poker and slowly working on his Ph.D. he married Donna and adopted her 3 children from a previous relationship. In order to adopt the children Barry had to find respectable employment for the court to assign custody of the children to him. Barry accepted a job (even though he was making way more money playing poker) with a start up company in Silicon Valley called Symantec (Norton AntiVirus) after carefully making sure that there were good poker games available in the new neighborhood. Donna and Barry had two children of their own in 1987 and 1988. After some family sickness and jaded times Donna and Barry decided to move on their separate ways. Barry eventually gave all the money they had to Donna, but retained sole custody of all 5 children.

For the next ten years Barry tore up the Bay Area poker cash games. He spent a lot of time with his children. He did teach them the ways of philanthropy. Requiring the children to serve food at shelters and giving of their time for other charitable events.

It was not until 2003 that Barry took aggressively to tournament play. By some standards his achievements in tournament play are not that outstanding, but with regard to what he has done in a short period of time it is phenomenal. Not only has he won two WSOP bracelets and two WPT titles, he has also mentored Tuan Le, Mimi Tran and Joe Sebok (one of his adopted sons) who all have had success recently in the tournament games. In 2003 while at the WSOP, Barry took a seat at the big game. He cleaned house. Doyle Brunson was impressed enough to ask Barry to write a chapter for SS2. One very cool thing Barry has done is donate all his tournament winnings to charities mainly working with disadvantaged children in the US and all over the world. That total is now over $6,000,000. His philanthropic ways have rubbed off on many other players who are now receiving joy in being able to give to others in need.