Ten Minutes with Michael Greco
i-marbella.com interviewed the Eastenders' star turned poker player in Marbella
How do you describe yourself at the moment. Actor or professional poker player?
Both really. Acting is my first love, but poker is very close behind. I’m certainly a profesional poker player now because I used to get invited to all the celebrity events but they don’t ask me anymore because I’m too good!
How did you get into poker?
I played a couple of Sit & Goes at friends’ houses, and I really enjoyed the bluffing aspect. As an actor, I can read people quite well and I love the fact that I can hide my emotions when I’m bluffing. My girlfriend at the time dumped me, and I was absolutely devasted, so I started going to casinos and playing comfort poker! And now I’m addicted to poker but not to her, so thanks Jo! I’m not a great fan of internet poker – I don’t play that much online – I’d rather play live
You get addicted to poker because of the bluffing aspect, and also the prize money is great - I’m a very competitive person, and I always want to be a winner. There’s dissapiontment in tournament poker, which is very different to cash games. 98% of the time your going to be disappointed. Even if you come second in a big tournamnst you’re going to be dissapointed because you haven’t won it. I’m just starting to get to grips with that.
I think that actors have a lot of time on their hands, and they like playing live poker because bluffing is a fun aspect of the game. It’s very chilled out and gets you away from that “celeb” stuff – going out to parties and doing this, that and the other. I can sit at a poker table and people will see me as Michael the poker player and just chill out and have a great time and I think that that’s another reason that a lot of A list Hollywood stars are playing it because it’s such a social game. A lot of them play at each other’s houses, or they go to the casino and people don’t bother them. Poker players aren’t phased by who they see at the poker table – all they want to do is take your money!
The biggest poker players in the world, people like Phil Ivey and Danny Negraneau –are the real superstars. If you go to Vegas, they’re treated like gods. Even Devilfish, who is one of the very few well known English poker players in the States. I was out with him in Vegas and everybody recognised him. It was incredible.
Poker has certainly taken you around the world.
I’ve been to Las Vegas, Spain, Germany, Monte Carlo, Australia – all over the place, and it’s the most amazing life. It’s pretty much how a golfer feels, going from one place to the next, living out of a suitcase in a hotel. I went to Australia for the Aussie Million and got knocked out, and I wanted to come straight home! It gives you a great lifestyle!
What’s your view on Celebrity Poker?
Some people get invited to play because they’re famous and its interesting to have them around, and some get invited because they know the organisers. At the Ladbrokes Poker Million Celeb event, Brian McFadden, who is a good friend of mine, was in the heats. And I said to him. “Listen, if you do win your heat you’ve got to play the first round proper – He went “I’ve no chance”. But then he won the celeb event and 45 minutes later he was back on set playing the first round proper and he went out. He didn’t have the patience or the stamina. It’s really, really difficult. I’ve played in a few of those when I’ve played in the celeb event, and then the first round proper, and gone out really quickly.
Do you get tired of people associating you with Bepe, your character from Eastenders?
Look, I’m going to get Bepe all the time, but people know me as Michael and I’ve been on the poker circuit for a while now. Obviously players know me from Eastenders, but they see me as a poker player now.
How would you describe your style of play?
Loose and aggressive but very steady. I adapt my style to the table really. If the table is getting very loose, then I’ll wait for big hands and counter act. Most of my sucess has been down purely to bluffing – I’m a good bluffer and that’s how I win a lot of pots.
I don’t get Aces every second hand. At Cardiff, up until the final I got one pair of Queens and I put them down pre-flop to a pair of Aces, so you can win big tournamsnts,without getting big cards. I’m an aggressive player but I’ve got a lot of gears – I can change according to the circumstances.
Where is the best place that you’ve played?
Monte Carlo at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel. It was a huge, beautiful room. The backdrop was just amazing – looking over Monte Carlo and just stunning. I was like “Oh my God, I’m being paid to sit here!” It just doesn’t get any better than that.
Who would you like to play heads up against?
Daniel Negraneau . He’s a crazy aggressive player .I see loads of American players who have got lucky playing big money tournamsnts, but I think that their reputation preceeds them. They’ve got to where they are, winning a couple of tournaments by sheer and utter luck. So I’d offer to play heads up with Negraneau
What do you think about women poker players?
I think that men are better players, and I’m not chauvanistic at all. I haven’t seen one woman player yet that has really impressed me with her play. I think a lot of them are easy to read. Vicky Coren, however, is becoming a great player, and she made some great reads of the game
Any advice that you’d give from your experience on the poker circuit?
If you’re out of form and you’re not hitting your flush draws, there’s nothing that you can do. You can’t force cards to come. Great players go through months and months of not winning because they’re not hitting anything, but that’s part of the game and you’ve got to understand that.
By: Giles Brown
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