Last week PokerWorks published information regarding the debts of high-profile players and the effect those debts could have on Groupe Bernard Tapie's (GBT) impending deal with Full Tilt Poker (FTP). GBT's lawyer Behnam Dayanim indicated through a statement released on Gaming Intelligence that FTP was owed in the neighborhood of $10-$20 million by players that included Phil Ivey, David Benyamine, Erick Lindgren, Mike Matusow, Layne Flack, and Barry Greenstein.
Barry Greenstein's name in the list brought a flood of attention since Greenstein is a member of Team PokerStars. He posted a statement on the TwoPlusTwo Forum and it is included below.
Greenstein took a seat with PokerNews.com and answered questions with a more in depth look behind his initial statement on the forums.
When asked if he borrowed from FTP or from a board member, Greenstein said he "just made the call" and explained that he plays at casinos and online, his credit lines were huge. He borrowed $400,000 from FTP and was never asked to pay it back so it was easier to pay other people than FTP.
Greenstein apparently was facing heat from other players about not paying back FTP to which his response has been "what do you think would happen if I paid the $400,000 at that point?" And while he owed the money, other people owed him money also.
Greenstein was asked if PokerStars was aware of the situation; his response was that as soon as Black Friday hit, he told them. He is sure PokerStars is not happy about his owing money to FTP but everything seems to be in a 'wait and see' what's going to happen with the entire poker community "issue of when and how the money is going to get paid back to the players."
Greenstein was questioned on the time period he received the loan - was it while he was a PokerStars pro? He isn't sure. Greenstein liked to play the big games and at the time PokerStars did not have big games. Greenstein played under BarryG1 at FTP and PokerStars felt it was as if he was representing FTP. Greenstein thinks the time period was probably in his first few years at PokerStars; now he plays at PokerStars.
Greenstein was asked if he speaks with Phil Ivey or Erick Lindgren or others that were mentioned by Dayanim who borrowed money from FTP; he speaks to Phil all the time. Greenstein gives his perception of the situation as he is not sure that all the players who owe FTP money have been contacted as Dayanim stated. Greenstein is in a wait and see situation since he feels that if the money was paid to GBT, it may not go to U.S. players and he didn't borrow the money from Tapie. It could end up being a situation with GBT where "we're going to take away whatever we can to help us, and we're going to leave as little as possible left."
PokerNews queried how much truth is in Dayanim's statement that several players were not willing to pay at this point. Greenstein responded that he put his statement out to clarify that he does owe the money, he isn't clear on who is supposed to get it if he repaid it. He believes U.S. players would feel better if everyone would come forward and admit they owed the money, even if it's not paid back right now. He believes there will be an eventual list of money owed and everyone will be asked "do you owe this money and how are you going to pay it?"
When asked his opinion of Groupe Bernard Tapie, Greenstein said he couldn't "judge on what they're going to be able to do."
Greenstein is concerned about the money that the Department of Justice (DoJ) seized and where it's going to. He also has heard that the money owed to FTP by the pros is not what's holding up the deal, he feels they are trying to get as much money in their pockets as they can to come as close as possible to free rolling the whole FTP thing without having to come up with money out of their own pockets.
Barry Greenstein is aware the money is owed, he's also aware that it will have to be paid back at some point, but his questions of where it will go and how it will be handled have merit.
Greenstein's statement on TwoPlusTwo:
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.”
To read Barry Greenstein's complete answers to PokerNews' questions, visit here.