The Hell? Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer Team Up for WSOP Tag Team Event
If I was playing Family Feud and Steve Harvey said, “Top five answers on the board. Name a reaction you would have to hearing that Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson and Howard Lederer entered the $1,000 Tag Team Event at the 2017 World Series of Poker together,” I would buzz in immediately and say, “You have got to be shitting me.”
Other answers on the board would be, “What in the actual fuck,” “They have some serious balls on them, those two,” “GTFO with this shit,” and “The Hell?”
That is correct, two of the men at the center of the Full Tilt Poker Black Friday scandal – and the two most prominent men at that – teamed up with fellow Team Full Tilt member Andy Bloch in the $1,000 Tag Team Event this week, according to reports from spectators and players.
Lest we forget, Ferguson and Lederer were not just members of Team Full Tilt, but were two of the site’s founders and core company executives. For a number of years, they allegedly paid themselves millions upon millions of dollars from player funds. The U.S. Department of Justice accused Full Tilt’s owners (not just Ferguson and Lederer) of receiving nearly $450 million in payments using deposits that belonged to players. Lederer allegedly received $42 million himself. When the DoJ came down on Full Tilt on Black Friday 2011 and player payments were frozen, it was discovered that Full Tilt did not have the money on hand to pay customers.
Of course, Ferguson’s legal team has said that any mistakes were made out of “mismanagement” rather than intentional maliciousness, but come on. Rule number one of running an online poker room is to keep player funds safe, which includes not using them for operations. Stealing player money does not happen by accident.
Ferguson and Lederer made themselves scarce for five years before finally returning to the World Series of Poker in 2016. They were unwelcome then and they are just as unwelcome now. That they actually joined forces for the Tag Team tournament is close to unbelievable.
That the two men could be so blind as to the optics of the situation is crazy. If I was in their situation, not only would I not attend the WSOP so as to avoid dealing with the verbal abuse I might take, the last thing I would do would be to team up with the one player in the room that is hated as much as me.
Then again, maybe the only player each of them could lean on was the other. Nobody else would have them.
OR, maybe they are fully aware of what they are doing and are going full heel. It’s like in the mid-1980’s when Josip Nikolai Peruzović and Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri took on the roles of Nikolai Volkoff and The Iron Sheik, becoming the bad guys of the WWF (now known as the WWE). As the evil Russian and Iranian, they would flaunt their national pride (Volkoff was not actually Russian, though), pretend to spit on the USA, and give the fans villains to hate.
Maybe that’s what Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer are doing? Maybe they have just decided that they are never going to shake the view the poker world has of them, so they might as well embrace their villain role. Maybe they will start strutting into every tournament late, like Phil Hellmuth tends to do, and wave their hands in the air, flipping every table the bird as they walk to their seats. Ferguson can wing some cards at carrots.
I will admit, there is a little part of me that is kind of in awe of chutzpah Ferguson and Lederer must have to sit down and try to win money from people from whom they already stole money. To quote legendary television news anchorman Ron Burgundy, “I’m not even angry. I’m actually quite impressed.”
Word is that the two haven’t taken much verbal abuse this week at the tables. Some may wonder how players could sit there and not say something, but I can understand it. For one thing, lots of people might not even be aware of what Ferguson and Lederer did. But for those who are aware and are angry, what are they really going to do? Lay into them and risk a penalty? Start talking shit, trying to be a hero, while just looking like an asshole and frustrating yourself? Perhaps doing subtle things like slow-playing them, calling clock, and what-not could work, but even then, that gets you thinking too much about them and not enough about your own poker playing.
(The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the owners and publishers of Flushdraw.)