Mike Sexton: "Chris Ferguson Should Tell His Side of Full Tilt Story"

Chris Ferguson IMG 5791
Many in the poker world believe Ferguson owes them an apology.

Poker icon Mike Sexton thinks that if Chris Ferguson came clean about what happened at Full Tilt Poker, the poker world would have a better opinion of him.

Ferguson has been absent from the WSOP since 2010 but showed up to play this year at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Poker players reacted on Twitter and poker forums, voicing their frustration at seeing one of Full Tilt's principal shareholders back on the poker felt.

Sexton believes Ferguson isn't doing himself any favors by keeping quiet.

“I think Chris should tell the story to be honest,” Sexton told PokerListings at the World Series of Poker.

“I think if he told that side of the story, how much he fought for players and how much he tried to get players' money back and how much he tried to keep the company going even after it was going belly-up, I think they would have a different viewpoint.”

Sexton said he sides with Full Tilt's former customers and understands why there are hard feelings, but that he does believe Ferguson acted with the players' best interests in mind.

“Knowing Chris like I do, I know he was the one guy who never wanted to pay the shareholders,” said Sexton.

Mike Sexton
"I know that he tried to do a lot of things that a lot of people don't even know about."

“But all the other guys wanted to get kickbacks and get dividends and I understand that because they needed bankrolls a lot of them.

“Chris was the one guy who fought against it but he got outvoted by the rest of them.

“I also know that he took his own money and put it back in the company, even after Black Friday. I know that he tried to do a lot of things that a lot of people don't even know about.

“But when you're at the top, and you're responsible, it's hard for people to justify that guys like Lederer and guys like Chris can make $20 million, $40 million, $60 million, whatever they made, and just walk away scot-free when some guys didn't even get their money back.

“So I understand that completely and I have no qualms with any of the young guys who are upset that he's playing.”

Read the entire interview below to learn more.

PokerListings: You've been a poker ambassador for a long time and back in the day Chris Ferguson was definitely one of the guys who was bringing new people into the game.

People have different opinions about what went down with Full Tilt, but what's your read on Ferguson coming back and playing WSOP this year?

Mike Sexton: Well, I knew Chris before he ever went into poker, from the swing-dance world. I've been friends with him a long time.

Chris Ferguson WSOP Picture
Ferguson's picture was taken down in 2015 but is back up now.

I certainly understand how people would be aggravated that he's coming back to play, and they feel he took advantage of them with the online site. I side with them on that.

I think it was horrible what happened with Full Tilt when they couldn't pay the players back, and I'm torn about whether he should make an apology, whether it would make any difference. I'm not sure that it would.

What's weird is that they had his picture down last year at the World Series of Poker, now it's back up again. Whether it should be or not I'm not sure but I guess if you're letting him play you have to put his picture up.

I understand the frustration of the online players. Had I lost money on Full Tilt I would have been very steamed about it. Not only with Chris but with all those guys who were ambassadors for Full Tilt, because they were the ones who lured them into playing on the site and then they didn't get their money back when they went belly-up.

I see both sides of the coin. A lot of old players are fond of Chris and like him as a person but for what he did, it's difficult for a lot of guys to swallow.

Should they let him come back and play? It's okay with me but I can see where people would object to it.

PL: You've been with Party Poker for a long time. Do you think people with endorsement deals like this have a responsibility for how the company is run?

MS: I totally agree with that. I think all those players at Full Tilt, I'm kind of wowed that the other shareholders got a pass.

I understand that they didn't run the company and you can't blame people who invested in a company to make money and then later the company goes belly-up. You can't blame them for buying shares so I understand why those people got a pass, and why the people at the top didn't.

PL: Chris Ferguson always struck me as a really frugal guy and it didn't seem to jive with the idea that he was clawing money out of the company in dividends. Was it a shock to see some of those numbers?

Chris Ferguson IMG 5
Chris Ferguson at WSOP

MS: Well, it was. But knowing Chris like I do, I know he was the one guy who never wanted to pay the shareholders. He wanted to keep it all in there.

He never thought they had enough money in the bank, so to speak, in case something went wrong.

But all the other guys wanted to get kickbacks and get dividends and I understand that because they needed bankrolls a lot of them.

But Chris was the one guy who fought against it but he got outvoted by the rest of them.

I also know that he took his own money and put it back in the company, even after Black Friday. I know that he tried to do a lot of things that a lot of people don't even know about.

But when you're at the top, and you're responsible, it's hard for people to justify that guys like Lederer and guys like Chris can make $20 million, $40 million, $60 million, whatever they made, and just walk away Scot-free when some guys didn't even get their money back.

So I understand that completely and I have no qualms with any of the young guys who are upset that he's playing.

PL: Do you think if people had more of the story that you're referring to, they'd have a different opinion of Chris Ferguson?

MS: I absolutely do and I think Chris should tell the story to be honest.

I think if he told that side of the story, how much he fought for players and how much he tried to get players' money back and how much he tried to keep the company going even after it was going belly-up, I think they would have a different viewpoint.

Keep an eye on PokerListings.com's WSOP Page for more news.

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Paul Hernandez 2016-06-10 00:31:20

Great insight and very thankfull Mr Sexton! Chris is and has always been one of the games best ambassadors. That group of pro's made poker what is is today. Hopefully the poker community reads this article.

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