Event #19: Pot-Limit Omaha Championship
Location: Rio, Las Vegas
Buy-in: $1,500
Number of Entries: 293
Total Prize Money: $426,315

When professional poker player Barry Greenstein heard the heartbreaking story of a terminally-ill cancer patient named Charlie Tuttle, he was so touched that he vowed to dedicate his victory in the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha to Charlie. During a seven-hour final table battle, Greenstein played with unparalleled determination. In one of the most flawless performances ever seen in the 36-year history of the World Series of Poker, Greenstein played mistake-free poker and captured his second gold bracelet. Although $128,505 was paid for first place, money and fame were the last things on Greenstein's mind.

Showing uncharacteristic emotion, Greenstein took comfort in the arms of mutual friends who share a special connection to a young man now resting in the Intensive Care Unit at Vanderbilt Hospital. For a few minutes immediately following his personal triumph, Greenstein was unable to speak and silently bowed his head trying to conceal his obvious empathy and compassion.

The muse for Greenstein's rousing victory was Charlie Tuttle, a 26-year-old online poker player who lives in Clarksville, Tennessee. Sadly, Charlie was diagnosed with cancer, which has now spread throughout his body. Charlie has tumors pressing against his lungs and has difficulty breathing.

Some time ago, Fellow poker pro Marcel Luske found out about Charlie and made a special effort to comfort a man he had never seen nor met in-person before. In fact, during one stirring telephone exchange, Luske called Charlie and sang to him over the phone while resting in the hospital. Those who were with Charlie at the time recall him "laughing for the first time in several weeks," when he heard Luske's singing voice.

Stories, both happy and sad, have their way of spreading throughout the poker community like a whirlwind. Barry Greenstein heard about Charlie's condition. He, too, decided that he wanted to do something that might provide some degree of consolation and gratification to a member of the poker fraternity. As in Luske's case, it didn't matter that he'd never even met this man. Doing a good deed is not just an axiom. It is a way of life for Barry Greenstein.

(Note: To read more about Charlie Tuttle, see the poker blog by Paul McGuire at The Tao of Poker.)

The total prize pool in Event #19 amounted to $426,315. The final table included three former gold bracelet winners - Chris "Jesus" Ferguson (with 5 wins), Barry Greenstein (with one win at the start), and Toto Leonidas (with one win). Formidable tournament and live-action pro Barry Greenstein arrived as the chip leader. Players were eliminated as follows:

9th Place: Eric "Blue" Bloore, $8,030
Eric "Blue" Bloore went out first. The 36-year-old pro poker player from Los Angeles plays mostly in middle-limit games, although he has enjoyed some success in online and live tournaments. Bloore was formally the owner of a large stock brokerage firm, which he sold before playing poker full-time.
8th Place: Sean Silverman, $12,045
Sean Silverman took a tough beat when his set lost to Paul Vinci's two-out ace, which fell on the turn. The 25-year-old former pre-med student now plays poker for a living. He was made his best showing at the WSOP in this event, but went out as the 8th-place finisher.
7th Place: Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, $16,065
This was Chris "Jesus" Ferguson's second final table appearance so far this year. The five-time gold bracelet winner was shooting for half-a-dozen, but didn't have enough chips to survive a cold run of cards a few hours into the finale. The 2000 world poker champion added $16,065 to his lifetime earnings, which now are close to $3 million.
6th Place: Paul Maxfield, $20,080
This was the third lifetime final table appearance for Englishman Paul Maxfield. Maxfield, winner of several majors in Europe, including the French Poker Open last year, went out in 6th place in this event.
5th Place: Tim Martz, $24,094
Tim Martz gained some notoriety on the previous day by knocking out the bombastic Phil Hellmuth, brutalizing the former world champion in four consecutive hands, which effectively turned poker's Frankenstein into a basket case. It looked like this might be Martz's day, as he had plenty of chips most of the way. But Martz finally went out when his A-Q-J-10 was crushed by Toto Leonidas' A-A-K-J. Leonidas had a dominant hand which held up, and Martz was out. Tim Martz manages a poker room in Butte MT.
4th Place: Toto Leonidas, $28,110
Toto Leonidas was shooting for his second gold bracelet, but he came up short. He lost a big hand to Barry Greenstein when he missed a straight flush draw. He went out a short time later as the 4th-place finisher. Philippine-born Toto Leonidas, who now lives in Los Angeles, was the 2003 U.S. poker champion. He finished second in the Limit Hold'em event here last week.
3rd Place: Chris Lindenmayer, $36,140
Chris Lindenmayer was the next player to be eliminated. He took an awful beat when he flopped a set of queens, which ended up losing to Paul Vinci's higher full house. Vinci ended up with kings-full versus Lindenmayer's queens-full. Lindenmayer is an X-ray technician from Ohio.

Runner up: Paul Vinci, $70,680
When heads-up play began, Paul Vinci enjoyed a slight chip lead - 218,000 to 216,000. It took about an hour for Greenstein to demonstrate the depth of his skill and experience, which would ultimately make the difference in the heads-up match. There were occasions when Greenstein mucked hands and saved precious chips, which most certainly would have been called (and lost) by other players. Greenstein was determined never to give his opponent an extra bet when he was convinced he was to the wrong end of the odds.

Greenstein seized the chip lead and closed with a victory on the final hand of the night - A-K-10-5 versus Vinci's Q-J-8-8. Greenstein flopped top two pair, which essentially left Vinci drawing to an eight. It didn't come. Vinci was second, and Greenstein was the champion.

Paul Vinci, a 42-year-old restaurateur from Burbank, CA was the runner-up. He has finished high in the money and has made it to several final tables at major poker tournaments played in the Los Angeles area. This was his best WSOP finish ever.

1st Place: Barry Greenstein, $181,330
Barry Greenstein is best known as poker's "Robin Hood." He donates all of his tournament profits (totaling over $4 million over the past five years) to various charities - mostly specializing in helping young people. He has given money to charities that support school programs. He has donated to social service centers that assist the victims of domestic violence. However, his preferred charity is Children Incorporated - a non-profit group that seeks to assist youth living in poverty, many of them in Central and South America.

Greenstein believes that setting an example will encourage others will follow his lead and donate their time and money to various causes which make the world a better place. Aside from his philanthropy, Greenstein personifies the true meaning of character and compassion - as illustrated by the dedication of his victory to Charlie Tuttle. How many other poker players would use their fleeting moment of glory on the grandest of poker stages to redirect that fame and glory toward a stranger? Not many.

Society defines success in peculiar ways. In this age of explicit materialism and celebrity worship, achievement is all too often associated with money and status. Barry Greenstein has different standards. Success is not calculated by wh