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A Conversation with Jesus from the 2006 WSOP
Chris "Jesus" Ferguson is one of the most admired and respected poker players in the game today. The 2000 WSOP Main Event champion has a Ph.D. in computer science and can slice produce with a playing card with one flick of the wrist. Last summer, WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack asked Ferguson to join the Player's Advisory Council, a group that would act as a liaison between players and the WSOP. The first evidence of the P.A.C.'s influence is the new, $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. event at this year's tournament. PokerListings.com recently sat down with Jesus to hear his opinions on the 2006 World Series and what the future holds for the tournament.
What events will you be entering at the WSOP this year?
I'm going to be playing every day. Hopefully I'm not going to be playing every event, but I will be playing every day. Today I actually played two events. I didn't even last one round in the Limit Hold'em tournament - well, just over one round - and about twenty minutes in the Pot-Limit Hold'em, and now I've got a free day. So I've played two tournaments in the course of two hours and twenty minutes.
What are your expectations for the rest of the tournament?
I really don't have too many expectations for it. I hope to do well. I would love to win a bracelet - that would be fantastic - but I don't like to put pressure on myself. I just figure I'm here to enjoy myself, play every day and hopefully do well. That's all I expect.
How do you prepare for these events?
I play poker. That's how I prepare. I play a lot of events over the course of the year. I'll probably play 30 events at the World Series alone, and probably another 30 events during the year, maybe 40. So I play 60-70 events during the year, and a lot of these events are four or five day events.
Is there anyone you're looking forward to playing against this year?
I'll take them all on. In the Main Event? Somebody who doesn't know how to play. But I really enjoy playing against the best players in the world. You're going to play against some good players, and some beginners. And some of these beginning players are very good. They may not have played a lot of live poker, but they learn how to play online. Speaking of which, I'll throw a plug in for Full Tilt Poker.
How does the 2006 WSOP compare to previous years?
2005 saw a huge change in the World Series with the move to the Rio. The incredible explosion of poker in 2005 really made it hard to handle the numbers of people. This year it's even bigger that last year, but I think they're learning how to manage the people, so it's actually been a better run, and it's not as much of a change as last year even though it's growing. So I think things will be bigger, and things will be better, which isn't always the case.
Can you talk about the role of the Player's Advisory Council in the World Series?
Yeah. Don't blame us for anything that goes wrong (laughs). But I am very happy with Harrah's; they actually listen to the players. We talked to them about the structure and I think they've responded very well. That's not to say that there aren't improvements that could be made, but I'm very happy with Jeffrey Pollack. He's very open to taking players' considerations into account. He understands that this is a players' tournament.
Where do you feel poker will go from here?
It's too early to tell. We don't even know what the 2006 World Series will look like yet. After the 2006 World Series, we'll have a better idea. I think if we're leveling off in 2006, we'll probably be flat in 2007; if we're still growing then I expect even more growth.
Will you be playing in the new H.O.R.S.E. tournament?
Yes. I intend to play in the H.O.R.S.E. event. If I make a final table for a tournament the day before, maybe not, but I'm definitely intending to play.
Do you see the H.O.R.S.E. event supplanting the Main Event as the most prestigious tournament in the WSOP?
I don't think it will. I think a lot of the top players in the world see their chance at becoming World Champion slipping away because with 10,000 people in the Main Event, 8,000 people, nobody has more than a one in 300, 400 chance of winning this thing, no matter how good you are. So I think all of the elite players are looking for something else where they will have a chance to become World Champion, and I think they see this H.O.R.S.E. event as possibly being that place, but I have to say the Main Event will always be the World Championship, and it's always going to be the most prestigious.