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Interview with Joe Sebok: Professional Poker Player

Chasse Rehwinkel

I gamble, therefore I write...or I write, therefore I gamble...honestly, they're pretty similar professions…

Joe Sebok.jpg

At this moment, Joe Sebok is arguably the king of all poker media.

Already the founder and operator of his own, very successful poker multimedia site,, Sebok recently added to his poker media résumé by signing a groundbreaking deal with UltimateBet, which not only made him a sponsored pro with the site, but a media and operations consultant.

Although overshadowed by his famous poker playing father, high stakes poker pro Barry Greenstein, when he initially broke into poker, Sebok has managed to tally up his fair share of success on the felt, earning more than $1.8 million in poker winnings since he burst onto the scene in 2005.

Originally from Illinois, Joe was nice enough to take time out of his busy schedule to talk with the Windy City Rounder about Chicago gambling, some Barry Greenstein stories and, of course, the Cubs.

The Windy City Rounder: Alright Joe, could you first just tell me about your connection to Chicago and Chicago gambling?

Joe Sebok: Well, I don't have too much of a connection to the gambling side of Chicago. When I was growing up, I was pretty much kept away from that stuff. Obviously my dad is Barry Greenstein and he has plenty of stories about Chicago gambling. I did live in Illinois until I was eight, but I was never really exposed to gambling. Then I moved to the West Coast and the rest is just history, I guess.

WCR: So you're a big Cubs fan from what I've been told.

JS: Huge, huge Cubs fan.

WCR: How's that treating you?

JS: I'm cursed.

WCR: Cursed?

JS: Okay, here's the thing. So, it's gone the same for me as it has for all of the Cubs fans out there, terrible. But, I am an absolutely huge Chicago sports fan; I like pretty much every team that plays in the city in every sport with the one notable exception of basketball. I met Dominique Wilkins when I was a little boy...

WCR: Don't tell me you're an Atlanta Hawks fan, Joe.

JS: Exactly, I'm a huge Atlanta Hawks fan. It's crazy, because I like the Blackhawks, Bears, Cubs, the college teams, but it figures the one team that has managed to grab some recent titles isn't one I root for.


I know Nique was great and all, but why would you do that to yourself Joe?!

WCR: Alright, did your dad ever talk about some of the games he played growing up in Chicago?

JS: He didn't use to tell me anything, but when I finally got into poker I got to hear some of his stories. Stuff like when was growing up on the South Side, gambling for quarters, taking kids' money, kicking a little ass, you know (Laughing). But, then he moved on, went to the University of Illinois and got into some bigger games there. And he has such a big heart, Bear ended up in some games against farmers who really needed the money, which made him really uncomfortable. That's one of the good things about poker these days we certainly still need the money, but it's not like we can't support our families or need to buy some new piece of farming equipment to survive, which is, unfortunately, the situation Barry found himself in with those guys. So, he has a lot of interesting stories about playing in some really tough games out in barns and places like that across Illinois. It's some really interesting stuff.

Old Barn.jpg

Greenstein: Come on, this place seems legit

WCR: It's been discussed recently about allowing video poker to come to the city. What do you think of something like that coming to Chicago?

JS: Sure, well each new instance of something like that has to be looked at really carefully; who is it benefiting, what is it all about, how does it affect the community, stuff like that. But, I'm definitely someone who believes in personal liberty, whether that is gambling or alcohol or something else; I think people should have the right to do what they want. So I'm always going to side with personal liberty and freedom for people to determine what they want to do.

WCR: Is there anything else you'd like to say to Chicago's gambling base?

JS: Not really, just come to Vegas and hit me up while you're here, and that we really need to figure out this Bear's interceptions thing, maybe get rid of Ron Turner (Laughing).



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