One year ago, the original “Robin Hood of Poker” predicted that Donald Trump had “no shot at becoming President.”
Today, millions of people watched, jaws agape, as Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States.
How did things go so horribly wrong differently from what Barry Greenstein and millions of others expected?
At the 2017 PokerStars Championship Bahamas, where Greenstein also happened to make a nice deep run in the Main Event, he reflected on his prediction, elaborated on the Democrats’ biggest mistakes and why Hillary Clinton might, believe it or not, have been worse.
On the Trump Campaign:
Barry Greenstein: “During the Trump campaign many things happened, but let’s start here. I don’t know how much of what I say makes sense to European people but there are similar trends in many European countries.
“Greece, Italy, France, everywhere you find people saying that the refugee crisis is going to be a burden on them. Personally, I consider myself an independent.
“I’m conservative fiscally, which means I think we shouldn’t spend money we don’t have, and that’s something the Democrats like to do.
“With Trump we’re going to see lowering of the revenue so the national debt will go up. They’re going to say the debt is not important, although they said the opposite when Obama was president.
“By the way, had Bernie Sanders become president, the debt would also have increased because he was giving away a lot of stuff.”
On Exploiting the Social System:
BG: “Trump is probably the number one welfare recipient in our country. He didn’t pay taxes he should have paid because he wrote off money that other people lost.
“His accountant didn’t think he was going to get away with it but they said ‘what the heck.’ When he lost this 900 million 20 years ago he didn’t have 900 million. It wasn’t his money.
“But after a couple of years the banks realized there’s no way he’ll pay so they wrote off the debt and let him stay alive. The banks were looking at their bottom line.
“They thought if they can get back 25 cents on their dollar by keeping him alive and letting him get away from his own bankruptcy, that’s better than nothing. He has used that for 20 years and it was the middle class and many other people who’ve been paying for him.
“If you’re against welfare, be aware that Trump is the welfare king. We’ve been supporting this guy.”
On the Terrible Campaign of the Democrats
BG: “With six months to go they led by two touchdowns and decided ‘we’ll kneel on the ball and do nothing. We can’t lose unless we’re saying something stupid.’
“So Hillary stopped holding press conferences and didn’t really talk to the press for months. Only when it started getting closer she started talking again. It was a really stupid strategy.
“But, astonishingly, it would have been worse if Hillary won because the next four years would have been obstruction just like we had it under Obama. The Republicans have both houses and they would’ve tried to impeach her for the email stuff.
“It would have been a nightmare. Whatever we saw under Obama that was already gridlocked it would have been even worse with Hillary. There were infrastructure packages by Obama that didn’t pass, but the same packages will pass now because they don’t have to be afraid to make Obama look good anymore.
“Obamacare, another example, which was actually called the Affordable Care Act, was a Republican idea of the 1990s. Romney implemented it in Massachusetts. Now that Obama accomplished it nationwide they say they don’t want it.
“Being asked what they want, they actually describe Obamacare but they can’t admit it because they want a Republican’s name written on it. What they’ll do when they say they repeal it, they’ll tweak it a little and maybe call it Trumpcare, but it’ll be the same thing.
“By the way the Democrats do the same thing the other way. Both sides try to block anything the other side does. As individuals, politicians in our country aren’t bad people, but as a group they’re bad. They’re forced into positions and to vote a certain way.
“So, in some way, it’s better for the US that Trump was elected and it’s better for the US if he stays in power now until he gets impeached or until his term is over. Because otherwise we get Mike Pence, and Mike Pence is a knucklehead. He’s against any liberalism and social concepts.”
On Mike Pence:
BG: “He’s so conservative that some people joke that he’s now against saving elks because he found out that elks don’t have life partners, so they’re not monogamous. He and many right-wing religious people are not smart enough to realize that the bible was written thousands of years ago.
“They like to say they’re against homosexuality because there’s something about it in the bible, and it’s true. 2,000 years ago the writers of the bible thought it was wrong.
“But the bible also says that women should be stoned if they have sex without being married, children who cuss at their parents should be stoned, and so on. But there’s something we call development. We used to jail scientists because they’d found out the Earth wasn’t the center of the universe.
“I’m sorry, people, the bible wasn’t written by God. It was written by man, and thousands of years ago they didn’t have the same knowledge that we have now. The reality is some people have same sex attraction and, opposed to 2,000 years ago, we can now study this and say it’s not a big deal.
“The real problem is people who’re that concerned about other people’s sexuality. I’ve never been fascinated by the thought of looking into other people’s bedrooms but they care so much about what other people are doing in the privacy of their own homes.
“That applies to poker, too, by the way. But back to the campaigns …”
Normally, It’s the Economy …
BG: “Trump was in the media all the time and Hillary started going down. The media tried to dig up something about Hillary because she wasn’t talking to them, but they only found the emails.
“Benghazi was only thrown out there because the Republicans and the media thought there was no way Hillary was going to lose. Normally in our country every election is about the economy. In this case unemployment was down, we were increasing jobs and Obama got a lot of credit for it.
“I’m not sure if he deserves all the credit, but still he did. It was the same with the Clinton boost and the Bush bust. The presidents maybe had 5% of influence on this. There were other factors that were much more important.
“Trump won’t have too much influence, either, but as mentioned above we don’t want Mike Pence. He has backing and influence so he can do bad things.”
BG: “The Republicans have convinced the uneducated of the opposite of the truth by running such a clever campaign.
“Under Bush there were 13 embassies attacked and over 60 people killed. While Hillary was Secretary of State there was only one attack with four people killed.
“So obviously, we got better protection. We also closed some embassies down, but we still got better. But what does the Secretary of State actually have to do with the protection of embassies? The answer is – nothing. It’s the Pentagon that’s responsible.
“But again, the uneducated people think Hillary had something to do with it. And then the main guy in this, Stevens, said they had needed better protection. That’s true, and the Republican Congress voted down money for the protection of Benghazi!
“So, the Republicans and the Pentagon are responsible, the Secretary of State doesn’t even deal with that. It was a total political witch-hunt. There was nothing there.”
“But I don’t even want to come off so Anti-Republican. Both sides lie. They’re lying through their teeth to get what they want. Debbie Wasserman-Shultz – one of my least favorite Democrats – is an example.
“Trump lies all the time, and Pence was seen as a hero when he came on camera saying Trump didn’t say the things he said. They could show Trump next to him saying things and Pence still said ‘no he never said that.’ They bank on the fact that people aren’t very intelligent and they keep proving it’s true.”
On emails and Propoganda
BG: “One thing the Republicans were propagating was that Hillary had smashed 13 phones. What happened was she wanted to keep a Blackberry so whenever something happened they smashed one and gave her a new one.
“There was nothing nefarious there. But the Republicans showed it as if they took 13 phones at the same time and smashed them to cover up information with a sledge hammer. That never happened but people think it did. Propaganda.
“Now for the 30,000 emails. This was her personal email, not the government email. Everything that was top secret went through government email. Now, it’s true that there were emails coming to her personal server that weren’t classified, but maybe should have gone to the government server anyway.
“None of that was compromising but the Republicans kept hammering on it and the press went along with it. Hillary aided this by holding press conferences. Still, personal email is personal. So she decides what to do with it. Under the Bush administration 50 million emails were destroyed and that’s really bad.
“Under the Romney administration in Massachusetts they destroyed everything they were supposed to keep, even destroying the computers. That was a catastrophe. What Hillary did was a penny to a thousand dollars. But the thing was, she didn’t give them anything else to talk about.
“Everyone who has 30,000 emails will have something embarrassing there they don’t want anyone to see. That’s natural, and it was her right to delete them. What she shouldn’t have done is destroy email after a subpoena had been issued, because then it looks bad.”
On the Clinton Foundation:
BG: “This is the only one that really has merit to it because of the conflict of interests. Undeniably, the Clinton Foundation did good things, there’s no question about that. But foreign countries contributing to it would do it why, because they want to get access to a country through the Secretary of State.
“They might say at some point ‘hey, we helped out here and there, maybe you could now do something for us.’ That’s a legitimate thing and there’s something wrong. It’s even worse with Trump, who’s now telling people to stay at his hotels. He’s already openly said they might be good for his businesses, which is clearly conflict of interest.
“So, whatever you say about the Clinton foundation, Trump is just going to look for things that help him. And what he says is he doesn’t have a conflict of interest because he’s Donald Trump and he’s such a great guy.”
Horndog vs. Predator
BG: “Bill Clinton could have easily won Hillary the election. He’s a great asset because he’s great at simplifying economic stuff. He was known as the explainer-in-chief.
“Without Bill Clinton Obama wouldn’t have been elected. People trust him and the economy was good under his office. But then he got attacked because of his affairs. By the way, these affairs were women that came up to his hotel room and later complained he made sexual advances when he dropped his pants.
“Bill Clinton thought women who come up to his hotel room wanted to have sex with him, which quite frankly many men would think. I certainly tell my daughter not to go to a man’s hotel room at two o’clock in the morning and then later tell me something bad happened.
“Donald Trump on the other hand was accused of allegedly raping a 13-year old girl, was attacking reporters against their will and admits to grabbing women by their genitals. So he’s a sexual predator as opposed to Bill Clinton who’s just a horndog.
“Bill Clinton is normal, Donald Trump should be in jail. Donald Trump walked in on teenage girls at the Miss Teen America beauty contest because he owned it and thought, how he put it, he ‘could inspect the goods.’ He’s not just a sexual predator he’s almost a paedophile. Anyone who voted for Trump should be aware of how sick the things are he even admitted doing.
“That applies especially to the religious right wing who have shown to be incredible hypocrites as they liked to wave the morality card in the past and then vote for someone like Trump. All Hillary had to say was that yes, it was hard for her that her husband was unfaithful.
“How could Trump blame the victim for the infidelity of her husband and still be good on the woman vote? That’s ridiculous. She should have pointed out that she saved her marriage while Trump didn’t save his.
“She happened to be running against the one guy who could make Clinton look great in comparison. The guy who was unfaithful all the time, married one of his mistresses and until today pays her a million dollars a year to not speak out against him. And she still lost.”
On the Democrats Finding a Way to Lose:
BG: “Hillary’s surrogates were often representatives of minorities. If you saw a black person arguing with a white person on TV, almost always the black person would argue for Hillary and the white person for Trump.
“I’m obviously not a racist but Hillary’s campaign basically framed it as black versus white, and white is still the majority in the United States. So, a lot of white people started thinking I have to vote for my ‘team.’ At some point the white working class thought they were losing our grip here in the country.
“That was a huge mistake by Hillary because you can make the case that the white working class is the most important group of voters in the country.”
On Social Welfare Abuse:
BG: “Of course, there is some welfare abuse in our country. The Republicans managed to translate that very well to immigrants and the white working class got the feeling that we support people who don’t deserve it.
“The reality is we’re a country of immigrants and they’re the backbone of several of our industries. They’re also underpaid and exploited, although they’re a benefit. We should have a program to protect them and grant them social security.
“Trump hired immigrants to build his towers and threatened them to deport them if they did anything wrong or complained. As we know now, his wife is also an illegal immigrant, by the way. Basically, Trump was a slave owner, he’s in the slave trade, essentially.
“The people did get some money but were threatened all the time, and that’s similar to slavery. Trump got rich not only by cheating on taxes but by scamming people; by hiring people and then not paying them but rather fight them in court. He’s a career criminal and a horrible person.
“I’m sure even the majority of the Trump supporters knows he’s a horrible person. The scary thing is, as I said, it would have been worse under Hillary because of the obstruction. We will get things done under Trump.
“He may get impeached or he might not; either way he’ll tell the white working class things are getting better, although they aren’t, and they still will believe him.”
On Draining the Swamp
BG: “The one thing where Donald Trump is saying the truth is when he talks about ‘the system.’ Basically, he’s been cheating the system for years, so he knows the system, so he knows how to clean it up.
“The thing is, he won’t. Instead of draining the swamp he’s hiring the richest creatures of the swamp and cutting their taxes. He really knows how to fix the system, but he’s not going to fix it.”
“Here’s the good news. Trump has been a Democrat for most of his life. He’s less anti-gay, anti-women than any of the Republicans. He has women on his team and he’s much more liberal than some people think, and we will get things done.
“Yes, he’s a babbling idiot on the intellectual level of a 10 year old. Remember him saying ‘I know words, I have the best words?’ If you want to bet on Trump serving a whole four years, the odds are against you. I still think he will stay the whole term.
“The reason is people are going to realize that Pence is worse. Trump has been on both sides of every issue; Pence has always been on just one side, and that was the wrong one. Trump’s just a knucklehead, Mike Pence has ideas.”