Chris "Jesus" Ferguson just finished 4th in the $10,000 NLHE 6-max championship.
Normally that's not worth a lede --especially when a player already has five WSOP bracelets and more than $8.5 million in tournament earnings-- but nothing Ferguson does is normal anymore.
After the U.S. Department of Justice seized Full Tilt in 2011 for bank fraud and money laundering, Ferguson --who helped design, found and promote Full Tilt-- vanished from the public eye.
Ferguson avoided criminal charges but was named a defendant in a civil suit by the US District Court of New York.
Full Tilt had no money to repay players but was found to have paid board members and owners more than $440 million since 2007. Ferguson, who received at least $25 million in distributions from Full Tilt but was earmarked $87 million, settled the suit for an undisclosed amount and a $2.35 million fine.
Ferguson also admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement and claimed to not have any knowledge that Full Tilt was engaged in illegal activities. Ferguson's lawyer said the issues rose from mismanagement and not malice.
Ferguson and Lederer Return
Five years after Black Friday, Ferguson returned to the World Series of Poker along with Howard Lederer, former president of Tiltware LLC.
Ferguson banner was removed in 2015, but now it's back.
Lederer’s return was expected after he issued an apology through Daniel Negreanu’s blog, but Ferguson has never publicly commented about Black Friday.
That’s why one of the largest crowds of the summer gathered when Ferguson made the $10,000 NLHE 6-max final table.
Ferguson had a small band of supporters that tepidly clapped when he won pots. Others responded with boos.
Mike Sexton told PokerListings that there’s more to Ferguson’s side of the story and people’s opinion of him would improve if they heard it.
On the other hand, Daniel Negreanu told PokerListings “any human being with a shred of decency would own some of it and at least have some sort of apology.”
Ferguson’s silence has sparked a lot of outrage.
Aside from the tepid boos, people were posting angry and threatening comments on social media.
Ferguson on Apologizing: "What Are You Talking About?"
A security guard stationed at the final table said he’d been made aware of threats and would likely increase security if Ferguson made it to the final three.
When the final six players went on dinner break, PokerListings approached Ferguson for a comment again.
“I’m just busy playing here,” Ferguson said.
When told about the increased security, Ferguson said, “I don’t think that’s true. I think that’s crazy.”
Finally, when asked about whether he intended to apologize to the poker community, Ferguson said, “What are you talking about? No comment,” and walked away.
"I'm just busy playing here."
Ferguson may wish for things to be like the way they were before 2011, but a lot has changed in the last five years.
Even final tables are different.
Ferguson wasn’t aware that the final table playing cards now have RFID chips for the live stream. The dealer had to explain it to him.
Ferguson’s last WSOP final table was in 2008, years before the WSOP started live streaming.
The stream shows hole cards on a 30-minute delay and at one point, Ferguson asked the streaming staff if he could ask his friends what other players had.
“I can’t stop you,” staff said, and Ferguson went to go talk to his rail.
Anger From the Rail
While some of the technology has changed, some people’s anger over the Full Tilt scandal is still strong.
At one point, Ferguson noticed that Nick Petrangelo had gotten a few extra chips due to a dealer error. Ferguson repeatedly talked to the floor, asked for a supervisor and asked them to go over the security footage.
Ferguson spent one break talking to tournament staff and kept the issue going when play started back up.
The supervisor told Ferguson that they were aware of the mistake, but the hand had passed and there was nothing they could do.
Ferguson had been wronged and he wanted it to be fixed.
“Why don’t you just trust Chris?” Daniel Levy shouted from the rail behind Ferguson.
“He would never lie.”
Ferguson turned around and the two glared at each other while the room fell silent. Ferguson dropped the issue after that.
There were a few boos from the crowd, but Levy was the only one who voiced anger at Ferguson during the final table.
When Ferguson moved all-in with Q♠ 9♥ and Martin Kozlov called with 3♥ 3♦, Levy and others in the crowd started chanting for a three. The flop acquiesced with a J♠, a 3♠ and a 2♠.
Ferguson’s rail started chanting for a spade while detractors called for another 3. The turn brought a 5♣ and a 7♦ on the river ended Ferguson’s first WSOP final table since Black Friday.
Ferguson threw his arms in the air in celebration while his rail cheered him on. There were audible boos and Levy shouted “Shame!” and other expletives at Ferguson.
Once again, Ferguson refused to comment, but he took time to take pictures with a few fans on his way to the payout cage.
Ferguson cheering and Levy jeering in the bottom left.
Then Levy confronted Ferguson and his rail again.
Levy: "He's Not Welcome"
“You have no shame!” Levy shouted at Ferguson. “None of you. You’re all terrible people and you know it.”
Ferguson’s entourage shouted “Bye!” and “Ciao!” at Levy and his friends as they walked away.
“I think it’s very important that the community sends [Ferguson] a message and he understands that he’s not welcome here,” Levy said.
“I don’t want any kind of violence, but he should know people think he’s a piece of shit and he shouldn’t be here.
“He’s not welcome.”
While some players don’t want to accept Ferguson, others seemed more than willing.
Robert Williamson was on Ferguson’s rail from the beginning of the final table. Ferguson spent one break chatting and joking with James Woods.
When Ferguson hung around the payout cage, a steady stream of people including Chris Moorman, Jon Turner and Dennis Phillips all stopped and talked to Ferguson and his group.
But when it comes to addressing players who were defrauded by a site he helped design, found and promote, Ferguson still has nothing but silence.