Is it Time to Ban Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer For Good?

Chris Ferguson
Would you welcome Chris Ferguson to your table?

With rumors circling that Chris "Jesus" Ferguson is considering a return to action at this year's World Series of Poker, it's time to ask the big question:

"Should Ferguson (and Howard Lederer) be banned from playing on the major tours for good?"

I was once banned from a casino in Cardiff after I called the manager an "idiot." He wouldn’t serve me alcohol at the Blackjack tables because I was too drunk.

I learned my fate the next time I turned up, sober, and was told that I was not welcome because of the actions I had conveniently forgotten.

The manager informed me that I had violated the casino's Code of Conduct and would not be welcome on its premises anymore.

Jesse May: "I Wouldn't Welcome Him"

Which brings me to Chris Ferguson and the WSOP.

Should he prove to have skin so thick that his own flying cards wouldn’t cut it and turn up at the Rio to take a seat, should he be allowed to play?

Speaking to Jesse ‘The Voice of Poker’ May at the recent WPT Venice Carnival, he had this to say:

jesse may 2
Jesse May says there are still too many unanswered questions about Full Tilt Poker.
 

“Obviously he is entitled to attend but I wouldn’t welcome him. Personally, people like him, and especially Howard Lederer, have disgraced themselves and I'm not personally satisfied with the answers they've given about what happened at Full Tilt.

“There are too many questions about the whole episode that haven’t been answered to my satisfaction.

"But in poker, like in life, there are a lot of people you just don’t like.

"That doesn’t mean they can’t be out in public, but me personally would I shake his hand? No, I would rather turn away.”

Too Many Questions Remain Unanswered

So what are the questions than remain unanswered for May?

“There are three specific questions I would like to see explored.

Ray Bitar
Ray Bitar
 

"Firstly, when the company was formed, what sort of due diligence did they do, and were advised to do, about any potential legalities that may arise in the future?"

"Secondly, when Ray Bitar was hired, was it known that he was going to essentially be a fall guy? As his name appeared on all the documents was that going to mean that he was the one going to take legal liability for anything that would arise thereafter?

"Finally, was there a point during the operation of Full Tilt that people wanted to remove Ray Bitar but couldn’t because nobody would take on the legal responsibilities that came with it?”

So despite still wanting answers is May saying that he believes Chris Ferguson should be allowed to play should he turn up at the Rio this summer?

“I don’t see why not. I don’t think they are the only two pariahs in the poker world, and legally they haven’t been charged or convicted with anything.

"But personally I just don’t have kind feelings towards these two people.”

Haven't They Damaged Every Brand in Poker?

In the past year two players have been given lifetime bans that will effectively rule them out of WSOP events for the foreseeable future.

WSOP bracelet winner David Diaz was given a lifetime ban from Caesars properties after an episode of drunk and disorderly behavior this summer.

With the WSOP almost certainly to be played at a Caesars-owned venue for a very long time, Diaz can wave goodbye to any hopes of taking a seat where Ferguson’s skinny derriere may well sit.

Just recently, and quite rightly, Chan Pelton was given a lifetime ban from all WSOP events, and Caesars properties, after he stole a 25k chip during his win at the WSOP Circuit (WSOPC) event at Palm Beach Kennel Club in Florida.

I understand that the actions of both Diaz and Pelton directly affected the WSOP brand, but didn’t Ferguson, Howard Lederer, Rafe Furst and Ray Bitar also cause irreparable damage to the WSOP brand?

Haven’t the quartet damaged the brands of every company involved in poker?

Even the Epic Poker League Took Action

The now-defunct (and besmirched) Epic Poker League suspended Lederer and Ferguson in the wake of Black Friday after a decision made by a committee that included Eric Baldwin, Andy Bloch, Chad Brown, Joe Hachem, Mike McDonald, Nick Shulman, Alec Torelli and Annie Duke.

Collectively they believed their code of conduct had been violated, most notably damaging poker’s reputation and hurting the growth of the poker community as a whole.

Epic Poker logo on table
Banning players is not without precedent. The short-lived Epic Poker League banned Ferguson and Lederer after Black Friday.
 

When the EPL’s ranking system came under the tutelage of Alexandre Dreyfus he took steps to ban Jean Paul Pasqualini and Cederic Rossi after it was alleged that the two cheated their way to the top two spots at the Partouche Poker Tour (PPT) Main Event in 2009.

“By taking this action, we are not claiming that we know they cheated – this is up to the casinos and the overseeing regulatory bodies to decide," said Dreyfus. "What we are convinced of is that there wasn’t fairness at the table. Unfair behavior will not be promoted via the Global Poker Index.

"It goes against everything I’m trying to do to promote poker, players and events.”

Ferguson and Lederer Yet to Admit Anything but Mismanagement

They have betrayed the trust of the entire poker community and have set our industry back 20 years. They are responsible for the ruin of thousands of people’s lives and, so far, have yet to admit to any wrongdoing other than "mismanaging" a business.

“On the issue of forgiveness. I am a very forgiving person and will forgive anyone," May added.

"But Ferguson has said nothing about the Full Tilt issue and Lederer has denied any wrongdoing - so how can you forgive either of them if they don’t admit to doing anything wrong?”

Howard Lederer
No one expects Howard Lederer to show his face at the WSOP.
 

“Where I come from - my gambling background - honesty and trust is a big thing, and I think personally, because I have been around for a long time, that there was a sort of unspoken agreement about Full Tilt that made it different.

"That one of the things about them was they represented a certain ethic, an openness and a certain class of people in poker who stood for something.

I feel very disappointed personally about what happened, and as far as the poker world goes they both fell from grace fairly spectacularly and I don’t have the time of day for either of them.”

A Whirlwind of Problems for Players and WSOP

May’s views no doubt mirror those of thousands of poker players who were directly or indirectly affected by Chris Ferguson and his decision making whilst the 19.2% beneficiary owner of Tiltware LLC.

There is no way that Ferguson should be allowed to play at the WSOP. His sheer presence will produce enough emotion to create a whirlwind of problems for players and the WSOP alike.

Imagine the outcry should Ferguson take his seat and get punched on the bridge of his nose by a player whose life was ruined by his inept decision making. A player who would then be subsequently banned by the WSOP whilst a blood-stained Ferguson would be able to check, raise and fold?

This cannot be allowed to happen.

The WSOP, the World Poker Tour and the European Poker Tour all have Codes of Conduct that underpin their businesses. I urge you to give them a good dusting and make a decision that will be well received from everyone within the poker community.

Ban Chris Ferguson from every card room in the world and do it now.

What do you think? Should the big three set an example and ban Chris Ferguson?


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Daniel Lang 2014-07-27 23:47:23

Sorry spelled Hellmuth wrong! To discuss a little more I thought of a quote that I here sometimes said by poker players "There's honor amongst thieves!" Well I am not sure if that's true of internet poker. I love poker and don't want to hurt the game I love. I hear of and feel the effects of too many bad beats online compared to live. I sometimes wonder if all online poker is just a fund for the pros to use. I recently stopped playing online because I always had best hand flop (trips, straights, full house) I shove then a call from opponent with many times nothing to catch runner runner. It just doesn't ring true. This happens but shouldn't happen every time you have the best of it. I hear of it so often from many people online so close to money and then catch super strong hand to get put out of tournament with runner runner. If we do ban them then maybe we should look at these top pros that get loaned the money from Ful Tilt and never payed anything back and then keep going for every site that has gone bad. Then no one would be able to play the game we love. I will play poker and maybe one day I will come back again to online but banning nah. I believe in karma a little and maybe they will get theirs if they really did wrong. I hope they have one of those strong hands they just can't fold playing a huge cash game and someone hits runner runner on them if they did do wrong that is.

Daniel Lang 2014-07-27 23:21:13

There is something about internet poker that should be looked at completely. If you watch documentaries about some of these sites a lot were started by pros and then the sites went down. Nothing happened to the other pros except the few. Look at some of the documentaries and many pros should be banned if they are banned. If you look at "Ultimate Beat" not only Russ Hamilton should have been implicated but an underlying Phil Helmuth helped with that site he has 14 bracelets which may have been earned through Ultimate Bet money to get into those tournaments! If we ban these two then many more people should be looked at.

Michael Hentrich 2014-06-15 19:12:27

DON'T ban anyone, if you want poker.

rm 2014-06-09 22:51:52

Yes. Ban them. They knew much more than they have been spinning. If this were a Wall Street case (which the public cares much more about) IMHO they would be doing jail time AND paying big fines coming from their personal finances not from a balance sheet. They should now be flipping burgers at a fast food joint.

js 2014-05-07 19:47:16

Ban Ferguson and lederer for good. How could they not? There will be violence....which might make for some good tv on the Espn broadcast....maybe don't ban them.

Gassed 2014-04-06 06:05:35

If they haven't been convicted you have to let them play. Let them come, let them be booed, hissed, punched and flat called by 5 players when they raise with QQ. 5 players who check the hand to the end when one of these jerks goes all in and then shove a winning 6-9 off suit up their arse! Can't stand either one of them now and I have been playing since 1980....

Bodkin 2014-03-27 21:14:04

I think the solution is to let Ferguson and Lederer attend, but put an exception in the rules that says people can punch them, between games, for mismanaging Full Tilt (mismanagement isn't as bad as corruption or whatever may have happened, but it's still a punch-worthy offense.)

MnW 2014-03-19 13:03:21

funny to see how people always single out ferguson and lederer.
i dont think they were handling it well either, but what about all the other owners?!
ivey didnt get paid a cent, huh? and he almost destroyed full tilts chances of finding a new investor with his ridicolous lawsuit. but somehow hes the saint, and theyre the bad guys.
no one knows what really went down, and to say that pokertours should ban players for something theyre not involved in is ridic bs.

Tanger 2014-03-19 09:21:33

I happen to live in Canada but the way ran FTilt was criminal. They paid themselves exorbitant, copious amounts to themselves and their inner circle - this is fact.

When the well ran dry - they took more and claimed ignorance. They settled and paid paltry fines - The Lederar files was interesting as such as a major shareholder and decision maker that he was unaware of almost everything - Ughh..

It's thieves my friends , they got very lucky and they had a good brand but greed and the love of money cost them
but it never really truly cost them. So banning them would be a start to honour all the people that had good hard earned $$$ line their pockets.

PotShipper 2014-03-19 08:40:43

It's not the responsibility of poker tours to ban players for incidents that happened away from the felt.