Daniel Negreanu Puts Chris Ferguson on Blast
In the poker world, one does not want to get on Daniel Negreanu’s bad side. Not that “Kid Poker” is perfect or anything, but he is one of the most outspoken people in the poker world, so if you piss him off, everyone is going to hear about it. And boy, are we hearing about Chris Ferguson.
As readers of this site likely well know, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson was not just a fantastic poker player – he has five World Series of Poker bracelets, won the WSOP Main Event, and has $8.3 million in live tournament earnings, just to cite a few statistics – but was also once one of the most respected and recognizable poker celebrities. I interviewed him at the WSOP about a decade ago when I was still new to this industry and he couldn’t have been more gracious and generous with his time.
But, of course, things changed when Black Friday put the online poker world into a blender five years ago. Full Tilt Poker, co-founded by Ferguson, went under, taking millions of dollars worth of players’ funds with it. As it turned out, executives at Full Tilt had been taking liberties with player deposits, using it to pay themselves, for example, so when funds were frozen by the U.S. government, there wasn’t enough to refund players. Ferguson was charged with multiple felonies in the Department of Justice indictment, though he admitted no wrongdoing when he eventually agreed to a settlement.
In the five years since Black Friday, Ferguson has been a ghost. Fellow co-founder and Full Tilt board member Howard Lederer has also stayed out of the spotlight for the most part, but notably sat down with PokerNews a few years ago for a long and dreadful interview in which he deflected all the blame he could for Full Tilt’s screwing of its customers. Less than a month ago, though, Lederer finally issued an apology for his role in the mess; Negreanu posted it on his site, FullContactPoker.com. It was likely just a way to try to be able to attend the WSOP without being pelted with rotten eggs, but at least it was something.
Ferguson has also played at the WSOP this year, something that has perturbed Negreanu, oh, just a bit. In a recent interview with PokerListings.com, Negreanu made his feelings known. He explained that because Lederer has actually made some attempt to apologize, Negreanu is willing to put the past in the past and move on. He may not be about to have pajama parties with “The Professor,” but he is fine with him being back at the poker tables. With Ferguson, it is a different story.
“Chris Ferguson, on the other hand, has hid for five years when they really needed him. They needed him to help get the sale done so players could get paid,” Negreanu told PokerListings.
“Now he kind of weaselly comes back without saying a word and not acknowledging anything, taking zero responsibility, and now he’s taking pictures with people in the hallway. I would just assume that any human being with a shred of decency would own some of it and at least have some sort of apology.”
Ferguson’s five years of radio silence is “shameful,” according to Negreanu.
“I’d expect that he’d have some remorse but the way he’s handled this, he’s shown none. I don’t know if he’s even sorry because he hasn’t said anything.”
As mentioned, Ferguson has never copped to any wrongdoing at Full Tilt, which Negreanu says is “bullshit.”
“You were on the board of directors. You were involved in the company at a very high level. Everyone had responsibility to some degree. Every single person involved,” the six-time WSOP bracelet winner explained. “And to shrug it off like you had no involvement after five years, I’m just shocked.”
And now that Ferguson has waltzed into the Rio (just realized that was actually a pretty good pun – yeah, I watched a lot of poker television back in the day) an apology at this point would be tough to accept.
“It would have to be a really genuine apology to have any meaning,” said Negreanu. And now he kind of has to apologize for coming back and not saying anything because it’s basically a slap in the face. It’s like saying, ‘Hey I robbed all you guys, how you been?’”
“Any human with a shred of decency would say sorry.”
In terms of number of cashes, Chris Ferguson has had a fairly successful run so far in this summer’s World Series of Poker. He has finished in the money four times, twice placing in the top twenty. The dollar figures have been low, though; none of his cashes have been for more than $10,000. I’ll admit, there’s a not insignificant part of me that wants to see Ferguson make the November Nine this year. I don’t want him to win money, but hoo boy the drama would be fantastic.