Chris Ferguson: Walking on Water

Chris Ferguson
Chris "Jesus" Ferguson on Day 2 of the WSOPC Lake Tahoe main event

At the beginning of this tournament there was one player who stood out from the 142-person field. Chris "Jesus" Ferguson was by far the biggest name in attendance and now, going into the final table, he is sitting with by far the biggest stack.

Usurping former chip leader Michael Banducci's throne after winning a massive pre-flop all-in race, Jesus is going into tomorrow's final table as the overwhelming chip leader. After he had completed the arduous task of bagging his vast mountain of chips, Ferguson sat down to chat with PL.com.

Chris, you've played a few tournaments in your life.

I do it all. But I actually haven't been playing too many lately.

Any specific reason?

Well I don't play WPT events so that really cuts down on the number of tournaments I'm able to play. I play the World Series and I did play the World Series of Poker Europe but with the exception of a few other events that's really it.

Chris Ferguson
Jesus lives.

Have you been enjoying the extra time this lighter schedule has afforded you?

Yes, I definitely have.

What have you been up to in your free time?

I just started learning to play golf. I take lessons twice a week when I'm in Vegas.

Frustrated yet?

Well, I don't think I'm good enough to get frustrated yet.

Let's talk a bit about this tournament. You had a great day but before we get to the specifics, give us your thoughts on this event and the WSOP Circuit in general. Everyone has a great time here and it really has a less formal feeling than a lot of the bigger events.

Day 2
The tournament room.

This tournament is great. I really love the Circuit events. $5,000 is still a big buy-in and it does attract a lot of great players. I really enjoy playing against the best players.

It seems like this field has a lot of locals and perhaps more amateur players.

That is true. This field might not be quite as strong as some other $5,000 events. But these days there are so many good players out there that learn to play very well online. Just because you don't know who someone is doesn't mean they're not a great player. Ten years ago when I sat down at the table I basically knew all the top players. So if you were sitting across the table from me and I didn't know you I could make the assumption that you really didn't have a lot of experience because if you had played a lot of poker I would know who you are.

Nowadays there are a lot of players who are getting very good playing online. There are so many of these great players who sit down across the table and although you may have never seen them before, if they're playing 10 hours a day online and they're playing four tables they may have played more hands of poker than I have. And it's impossible to know who they are.

Merwick Black
Remembers the old days.

What things have you done to adapt to this?

If there's a fault in my game it's that I give my opponents too much credit. I always assume my opponents play very well so in a sense this has worked to my advantage. I think a lot of people who don't respect their opponents are in for a tough lesson.

Let's talk about how this event has gone for you. Take us through your tournament up to this point and how you feel about your play.

I did hit a lot of flops but in general I'm very happy with the way I've been playing. Then there was the one giant coin-flip that I won. It was for a $300,000 pot. I had A-K and my opponent had queens and he had me easily covered.

Why don't we talk about that hand specifically for a moment? We've seen you play a really solid game and that was a massive pot to play with big slick. What were the specific things in that situation that made you comfortable enough to put your entire tournament on the line with A-K?

Michael Banducci
The player in the cut-off (aka Michael Banducci).

Well, I was in the big blind and the player in the cut-off raised. He was the monster chip leader and he had been playing a lot of hands. I wasn't giving him a whole lot of respect but at the same time I wasn't going out of my way to get into a confrontation with him.

He had close to $300,000 and I had about $150,000. I had just re-raised him and he was certainly aware that I might be playing back at him with a lot of hands. So I re-raised him again in this hand. I think he made it $8,000 and I made it $22,000, with blinds of $1,500/$3,000.

I'm actually kind of hoping he's going to re-raise and I'm thinking he might re-raise me light here. He'd been playing a lot of hands and I had just re-raised him so he might feel like he's being pushed around a bit. So I do think he might do this with A-Q or some of the weaker pairs.

I'm not expecting junk but having raised in the cut-off, A-Q or A-J figures to be good. So he re-popped me another $40,000 which I didn't really mind at that point. I'm still thinking my A-K is good and I can get him to lay down some pairs. I had about $120,000 more or so and I'm at least going to call so there would be about the same amount in the pot. So I just moved all-in.

Chris Ferguson
WWJD?

So you felt there was a lot of fold equity in that push?

I felt there was a good chance he was going to fold. He thought about it for a long time. It turns out he had two queens so I really didn't want to get in with A-K there.

What do you think of his call there with queens?

I think he made the right call. Me with A-K, I'm not as worried about aces or kings. He has to be much more worried about aces or kings because as far as he knows there's six possible pairs of aces and six pairs of kings. Because I have A-K I know there are only three pairs of aces and three pairs of kings. But I could have A-K there. If he didn't already have $60,000 invested in the hand I assume he would have folded queens. It wasn't an easy call by any means but in that situation I think he made the right decision.

Then I hit an ace on the flop which was good.

Day 2
The playdown.

When you know there's the chance you'll be racing in a situation like that, does it enter into your thought process that if you do win it you'll be in a great spot to make a run at the win?

I would much rather avoid a coin flip at that stage. $300,000 isn't worth anywhere near twice what $150,000 is worth. It might only be worth 70% or 80% more so I'm giving up a lot by gambling there.

You finished the day as the big leader, with about $420,000 or so.

$426,500.

That's substantially more than any other player at the table so what is your game plan going into tomorrow? Are you the kind of player who likes to put a lot of pressure on the shorter stacks when you have a lot of chips?

A lot of players try to put a lot of pressure on the short stacks but I think with the size of the blinds at this point I'm not intending to do too much pushing. I'm more interesting in getting to the final three and then playing.

Thanks a lot Chris and good luck tomorrow.

Few faces in the poker world are more recognizable than Chris "Jesus" Ferguson. "Jesus" to his vast ranks of followers, Ferguson plays an extremely disciplined and analytical game while on the felt. Since his trouble with the WPT has significantly cut down the number of live tournaments at which we see him, it's wonderful to have the opportunity to observe him at this final table. The fact that he's the undisputed chip leader is just the icing on the cake.

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