Poker Legends: Chris Ferguson
“I’m fascinated that people can play this game incredibly well without the kind of education that I have.”
Before going on to become a poker pro, Chris Ferguson—also known as ‘Jesus’ because of his flowing locks and beards—spent 18 years at UCLA getting a computer science Ph.D. There’s no doubt that he’s been able to apply his mighty brainpower to this game that so heavily relies on mathematics, but it does make you wonder.
Ferguson holds six World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets, lifetime winnings of $9.5 million, and a best live cash of $1.5 million. Another notable achievement was a record-breaking run at the 2017 WSOP, where he cashed in 23 different events and was awarded the WSOP Player of the Year.
However, just like the other Jesus, people have a lot of different opinions about this Poker Legend.
One thing that’s not in dispute is his uncanny ability to throw cards really really fast. Check out this clip of him slicing a banana in half by ninja-starring a card at 78 mph!
Zero to $10,000 Challenge
As a founder and major stakeholder in the now-defunct Full Tilt Poker website, Ferguson found a very clever way to market the site while also challenging himself to an incredibly difficult task. He wanted to prove that he could start from ground zero—literally no money—and build a bankroll up to $10k.
In this much-publicized run, he started playing free-roll tournaments where he would have to edge out hundreds of other players to win a couple of bucks. Once he finally won one of these, he would have to put it all on the table in low stakes cash games, and, when he busted out, it was back to the drawing board.
But he persevered. It took him nine months to get from $0 to $100, and then another nine months to build that up to $10k. Say what you will, but that’s pretty impressive!
Full Tilt Controversy
Still, Jesus finds himself at odds with much of the poker community because of his involvement in the Full Tilt scandal. Basically, when "Black Friday" hit the online gambling scene in the US, Full Tilt wasn’t able to pay out its players because of financial mismanagement and alleged dirty dealing.
While players weren’t able to withdraw their funds, numerous reports circulated that the site’s owners and sponsored pros had collected millions. And it certainly doesn’t help that Ferguson didn’t offer any sort of apology for another 7 years, and, when he did speak up, it was in a short, scripted apology video that was widely mocked.
Daniel Negreanu, for instance, tweeted out “It took all this time for Chris Ferguson to come up with THIS apology? So heartfelt. Had me in tears.”
After taking some time off, Jesus is back at the tables, wide-brim hat and all. Between his pretensions and his role in ripping people off, though, it’s unlikely that he’s receiving too warm of a welcome.
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