Apparently Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer are contemplating a return to poker at the 2014 WSOP — the rumors are mainly in regards to Ferguson, but Lederer has taken part in cash games in Vegas. I don’t know if these rumors are true or not, but they have enough legs for me to offer up some thoughts on the matter.
You got lucky, but don’t press your luck.
Yes, PokerStars bailed you out and took care of your jilted non-US customers in 2012, and the Garden City Group finally began the repayment process for your US customers last month; a process that has taken roughly three years, and has been far from smooth.
That being said, if you somehow think this erases what occurred, or that you are now “square” with the poker community, you are sorely mistaken. The poker world has not been appeased.
The fines may have been paid, but your proverbial prison time has yet to be served. As far as I am concerned you have only just begun your penance.
You both have every right to attend the World Series of Poker, just as the Westboro Baptist Church has the right to engage in the most vile and despicable behavior imaginable. The right to do something does not make it the right thing to do, and even the WBC has the common sense (or survival instincts) to avoid certain venues.
If you truly care about the game of poker and you are truly interested in someday being exonerated, than you should understand why you shouldn’t go to the WSOP. If you don’t understand why this is a terrible idea, let me explain.
Full Blown TILT
The poker world is simply not ready to see a Howard Lederer or Chris Ferguson shaking hands with spectators or with their more forgiving peers at the World Series of Poker, and we are not ready to see you playing cards and joking around and telling stories at the poker tables.
Your mere presence will create more tilt than a Jamie Gold/Eric Molina/Josh Schlein hybrid amped up on a 24-hour red bull, cocaine, and adderal bender.
Furthermore, if the rumors are true, and you are thinking about attending, think of what the scene would be like if you made a final table or won a WSOP event?
At this point winning a WSOP bracelet would be harmful to your legacies. It’s as if all of the obscure hypothetical situations that are discussed on the forums have come to life –could you ever fold AA pre-flop? Would you still take the add-on if you had half the chips in play?
In some unfathomable way winning a WSOP bracelet would be negative EV.
Your presence would put every player in the room affected by your ignorance/mismanagement/theft (you’re guilty of at least one of these and possibly all three) in a situation not all that different than having to work alongside a person who robbed your home, and was ordered to return your items, which they did three years later.
Take a cue from Russ Hamilton
Sure, some players have made some egregious errors and continued playing (Erick Lindgren and Chino Rheem come to mind), and players wearing despised patches from UB, Lock Poker, and even your former company FTP, deal with the verbal abuse they take. But yours is a special case that cannot be compared to the other incidents or transgressions, except for one.
Take a cue from Russ Hamilton. Stay away, stay far, far away.
The one thing Russ has gotten right is avoiding the poker community –some alleged sightings at local casino games in Florida notwithstanding.
The poker community will let you know
Nobody wants you there right now, you’re time at the tables will be filled with misery from the catcalls and dirty looks, and as miserable as you will be, the other poker players will be even more miserable.
When it’s time to return the poker community will let you know. You’ll start to see threads wondering where you are and what has become of you, and the responses will be toned down and less vitriolic.
One day you’ll wake up and you’ll realize things just feel different, and the poker world will as well. Some people will never forget, and some will never be able to get over what you oversaw at Full Tilt, but by and large I have no doubt you’ll be allowed back at some point.
That being said, if you try to come back too soon, on your own terms, you will forever become a persona non grata.
Regardless, when you do return (hopefully several long years down the road) it will not be a reunion of fond remembrances, but there is a difference between being booed and being booed off the stage, and being suspended vs. being expelled.
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