For the most part, the reaction to Chris Ferguson’s return to the World Series of Poker has been relatively mild – optimum word being relatively. Aside from a few catcalls, the 2000 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion and five-time bracelet winner has been able to sit down at the WSOP poker tables without being accosted.
That could be starting to change now that Ferguson is not only playing in WSOP events, but doing pretty well. It appears that the better he does the more vitriol will be thrown his way. The poker community’s outrage recently reached a crescendo with Ferguson’s fourth place finish in the $10k Six-Max Championship last week, a result that has him closing in on the Top 10 of the World Series of Poker Player of the Year rankings.
Ferguson’s latest result was his best of the series, but he has cashed five other times at the 2016 WSOP on top of his recent final table:
- 4th place in the WSOP $10,000 No Limit Hold’em 6-Handed Championship (Event #39), $183,989
- 26th place in the WSOP $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Championship (Event #24), $15,088
- 116th place in the WSOP $3,000 No Limit Hold’em 6-Handed (Event #21), $4,708
- 507th place in the WSOP $1,500 No Limit Hold’em Millionaire Maker (Event #14), $3,551
- 13th place in the WSOP $565 Pot-Limit Omaha (Event #12), $9,696
- 19th place in the WSOP $1,500 Dealers Choice 6-Handed (Event #5), $4,069
Considering Ferguson has come back to poker and picked up right where he left off, it seems like only a matter of time before he, or perhaps the even more controversial Howard Lederer, is being handed a piece of WSOP gold, or winning a major tournament somewhere in the world.
With this outcome an eventuality, my advice to the poker community is this, don’t base your level of outrage on how well these two men perform.
Who’s it going to hurt more?
It’s easy to hate on Ferguson, Lederer, along with former Full Tilt Poker CEO Ray Bitar (whose wedding created an uproar in the poker world), but whether you feel the punishment they received was justified or not (a veritable slap on the wrist by the U.S. government), there’s nothing you can do to keep them out of poker rooms, or from living their lives. Excessively trolling them or aggressively expressing your opinions about them is likely to get you banished from a poker room long before some type of official action is taken against the FTP triumvirate.
These jeers may get you a pat on the back from poker Twitter and 2+2’ers, but in the end they don’t accomplish anything, and before long poker rooms will start to crack down on offenders. And who is going to have a bigger smile when you get tossed from a poker room; you for your perfectly executed snide remark directed at one of these individuals, or them as they watch you escorted from the property?
Additionally, are you going to let it eat you up inside when they succeed on the poker circuit, which they’re likely to do? It’s best to just forego the schadenfreude and take an apathetic view of their presence, and whatever future poker accomplishments they might achieve.
Don’t create sympathetic villains
There are a lot of people in poker rooms who have committed crimes or misdeeds against the poker community or to society at large. The monetary scale of the Full Tilt Poker debacle, and the vast number of people who were impacted is certainly a factor, but as I noted above, the people involved were punished, and it’s not the poker community’s place to try to enforce some form of vigilante justice and have them barred, or cross the line in their harassment of these individuals.
This isn’t to say players can’t say their peace, or be contented when Ferguson or Lederer bust out of a tournament, but in my opinion, it’s important to not let this cross into the realm of harassment. It’s one thing to say, “I think what you let happen on your watch was shameful and you’re an embarrassment to the poker community,” if you find yourself at the same table. It’s quite another to cuss them out, not let up with your criticisms, or violate their personal space.
Furthermore, many people wandering around the halls of the Rio and in poker rooms across the country are completely unaware of, or unaffected by what transpired at Full Tilt Poker in 2011. Harassing Ferguson and Lederer will likely make them sympathetic figures to this group.
Explaining what happened is far too complicated and nuanced to quickly and accurately explain to someone who is unaware and likely uninterested, and simply stating “they stole money from the poker community” is far too inaccurate a portrayal of what occurred.
So, while it might make you feel good for a fleeting moment, hating on former FTP Board members isn’t going to change anything or make people care about your cause.
If Chris Ferguson or Howard Lederer win a WSOP bracelet it will change nothing, so don’t let it eat you up inside.