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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james 2015-04-27 08:33:24

You can't judge until you know the whole story.

I didn't really like Chris Fergussons style of play from the getgo. So i'm still on my first impression of him, so this is nothing but a distraction from my true hatred of the man.

Secondly.. Lederer too also has said some questionable things. One being that he doesn't remember the last bad beat he had and that he's proud of it.

Definately the type of line that seems to come from the mouth of a dishonest person trying to swindle.

Also everything Chris Fergusson says about poker can be taken the same way.

All his strategy is crap.

Definately defies logic in certain area's. There's a difference between someone with a bad poker strategy because they are immature and haven't put enough time into making the right choices. they may get there someday.

but a guy like fergusson.. totally different. and he doesn't even have a complete comprehension of numbers.

Doesn't make highlight lay-downs and bluffs like Phil Hellmuth

Doesn't have a somewhat ok strategy (but not top notch) that will prevail sometimes, like tony nguyen

He isn't a complete neucence like negrano..

at least negrano knows he's a hustler and behaves as so and he knows he is too.

Fergusson try's to slip in under the radar to preach his crap that would not fly in normal circles.

Under close criticism you can tell Fergusson is crap.

Negrano you may not like but at least he has skills. I don't agree with them, and pokerstars is absolute garbage and it's basically built to favor players like negrano.

But anyways.

But as a canadian i still think we need better than negrano. I haven't seen him play much pot limit which apparently is his best game. But as far as no limit, he's still more of a slime ball hustler than a top notch card player like a Phil Hellmuth, or maybe even John Juanda

I say let them play though.. I love how they both love talking at the table and talking crap that just annoys everyone.

I wonder if they'll try and regain that ground.. or how they'll approach the game.

This article falls on error in how it places the cards in the hands of people who can't control their temper..

They shouldn't be influencing the decision. If they are, you have no control, and shouldn't even call yourself a casino.

Lawrence Penney 2015-04-05 22:36:48

While Ferguson and Lederer were not charged with anything as a result of Black Friday, they have disgraced the name and brand of poker and their actions could have very well ended the international poker scene.
Lederer has reportedly been seen at the Bellagio, seemingly unrepentant of his actions and apparently still bankrolled-but from where?
My opinion is the three of them SHOYLD be banned from a return to the game, at least until they give some honesty to what really happened. And maybe look at letting them back in. MAYBE.
BUT, because of the history, and that they almpst ruined the lives and careers of others, such as Phil Ivey, I think it would be safer for them just to stay away. Just look at the reactiom Lederer got when he attended Kid Poker's induction to the poker hall of fame. Black friday will never be forgotten so I'm pretty sure it will never be forgiven

Derek 2015-03-04 16:01:14

Definitely ban these two pieces of shit, if they sat beside me in a card room i would definitely want to him them in the nose

Mahamoti Djinn 2014-12-14 06:09:33

They made some mistakes and people suffered, much like politicians do every time they get elected. Politicians who mess up big time are still allowed to run for office and control things, so Ferguson and Lederer should definitely still be allowed to play any poker event they choose.

I have two questions.

When Full Tilt was up and running before Black Friday was there ever a problem in players getting their funds? No.

Was it the ridiculous law against internet gambling and the legal agencies enforcing that ridiculous law that ruined peoples lives? Yes.

VOR 2014-12-11 11:32:54

Charles you and your twenty friends would then be promptly escorted to jail and charged with assault making you a criminal. Violence is never the way to resolve your issues with anyone. The only justification for violence is if someone is threatening you or your families life physically. Otherwise, you must exercise self-control.

Arius 2014-12-03 01:44:08

what a load of crap, the idea of banning them... if you want to talk ethics and morality.. let's talk about the millions of underage playing that goes on, online, and everyone shrugs at it.. it's illegal and everyone knows half the ppl at the table are underage.. they don't care because there's money to be won.

same goes to all the ways to cheat at online poker.. too many in cahoots at one table rolling over a few fish at the table, all in cahoots either playing together within one room (easy enough to do with separate isp's and internet lines).. or using skype or a variety of ways to share what are in their hands and basically full blown cheating at the tables.

i've played poker for 20 yrs.. i playes awhile online and came to the enlightenment there are just way way too many ways to cheat online.. and throw in the clear CLEAR underage gambling that's going on.

get off your high horses on morality and where the line is and should be drawn on ethics.

if chris and howard have done something flatly illegal you can be damned sure the authorities will figure it out and charge them.. in the meantime, everyone playing online is in the process of being involved with unethical games.

am i saying they didn't do something unethical and probably illegal? i'm not saying that at all.. i'm sying it's funny how some draw the line on 1 area of behavior and turn a blind eye to all the other unethical crap going on in the poker community.. mostly online..

i'm a huge fan of poker and a pretty ethical player.. i gave up online games long b4 black friday.. i stick to my game tables here in vegas and occas in europe

get off your high horses and selective morality

SixString 2014-11-06 06:55:15

I think, Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer dont deserve it to play poker on the big tours again. Jesse May got banned for beeng drunk at the table and calling someone an idiot. If you get banned for beeng drunk and calling someone an idiot....what penalty shout someone get for someting that big (fFull Tilt ) like this two guys ( Ferguson and Lederer ) did. Probably not letting them play ever again in any casino in th world. I would not welcome this two guys on the table !

rusty fenn 2014-11-03 17:04:00

What is wrong with all of you. Would you be so casual with your rights? They were accused of an action, but obviously it was never proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, nor civilly. They are not required to incriminate themselves, nor do they have to answer to anyone except to the jailer if convicted or the court if they lose civilly.

Please get your collective angst under control

Charles Bosler 2014-10-06 14:41:41

I hope they do let Lederer and Furguson play, so I can sucker punch them like they they did to me. If management ushered me out before I could get to both of them, I know 20 other guys that would finish the job. If they let one or both of these scammers continue to play, my 20 friends would continue going after them until the 2 should-be cons were no longer in the room. If they are such great guys, why didn't they pay me part of my money back? They got it didn't they? I can only think of forgiveness after they admit guilt and do what they can to pay the players back.

The NFL suspends players without first afforign them due process. Why cant the WSOP?

James Killen 2014-08-20 03:37:22

Jesse May is on the money.

If they have admitted to nothing but mismanagement, and have been convicted of no offence in relation to these events are they not still entitled to the presumption of innocence? You don't have to believe them, you don't have to forgive them, you don't have to like them, but you shouldn't punish people for allegations that have yet to be proved. By all means have your doubts, try to get them answered, but don't start from the presumption of guilt demand folks prove their innocence. That's just wrong.

There's another presumption that comes into play as well: Never ascribe to deliberate malice what can adequately be explained by gross incompetence. I'm going with incompetence until the someone actually proves them guilty. I'd rather be mistaken in fact than wrong on principle.