Barry Greenstein speaks out regarding Full Tilt debt

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Feb 04, 2012 Posted in Poker News | No Comments »

After an interview by Groupe Bernard Tapie lawyer Behnam Dayanim to Gaming Intelligence the poker world was abuzz over the revelation that several high-profile members of Team Full Tilt Poker owed the company somewhere between $10 million and $20 million in unpaid loans. However, it was another player mentioned by name, who is not a member of Team Full Tilt, that would be the most curious, Team PokerStars Pro Barry Greenstein.

Greenstein took the 2+2 poker forums on Friday to explain how he came to owe Full Tilt Poker money, posting the following response in a thread on the topic:

I have been inundated with calls from all the poker media sites regarding this, so it’s easier for me to respond in one place. Obviously, 2+2 has become the main place where people discuss online poker so I’m posting here. It would be nice if everyone who owes money discusses it openly so there is a better chance that they will make good on their debts and the money will end up in the pockets of players with balances on FTP.

My statement to the press and the poker community:

I borrowed $400,000 to play on Full Tilt a few years ago, before PokerStars had high stakes games. I didn’t pay it back, hoping that some people who owed me and had money on Full Tilt would pay me there so I could use that against the debt. (I’m only owed about $150,000 now). I have assumed when this case is resolved, the DOJ will allow methods for dealing with debt to FTP.

Tapie Group contacted me last week and asked if I would pay them directly. Their attorney offered me the opportunity to pay in installments so I could have a chance to use money owed to me. He even offered me the opportunity to discount my debt if the US players don’t get paid in full. I told him that I have never paid less than I owe on any debt and I would rather wait until the DOJ establishes a fund for the US players. I don’t believe my debt has any impact on the sale to the Tapie group as they have alleged. I was concerned about taking money due to US players and giving it to the Tapie Group because it is understood that the Tapie Group won’t be the one paying the US players. On the other hand, I realize that the total debt counting other players is substantial, especially because I would include in that tally any money taken from FTP once it had become insolvent.

Here is an excerpt from the letter I sent to their attorney:

“The consensus in the poker community is that all money owed to Full Tilt or taken by investors after the company became insolvent should be used to pay back player’s funds. If I were to make a deal with you it would look like I had turned my back on the best interests of the American players.

Even though the terms are easier for me if I deal with you and it will fulfill my legal obligation, I have to see how things work out with the DOJ and try to make good on my moral obligation to the US players. I assume at some time in the future the DOJ will establish a pool of funds from Full Tilt’s assets that will be used to pay off some percentage of the player balances that are owed.”

Later on Friday, Greenstein sat down with Brett Collson and Elaine Chaivarlis of, who peppered the highly regarded poker superstar with questions about his outstanding debt to Full Tilt Poker; here is a quick summary of the interview.

Greenstein, admits to owing the debt and is adamant that it will be repaid, but he also gave his reasons for not repaying the debt right now, stating that he is uncertain how the debt repayment will be used by Groupe Bernard Tapie, and that he wants all of the $400k he owes the site to go towards repayment of US poker players.

Greenstein also took a few shots at Groupe Bernard Tapie during the lengthy interview, prefacing each with a modicum of praise. Among his criticisms are that GBT is basically looking to freeroll Full Tilt Poker and that the company specializes in takeovers, not in running an online poker site.

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