When I saw that former Full Tilt Poker director Chris Ferguson was making a run at World Series of Poker Player of the Year, my initial thought wasn’t a very nice one. I just figured that many in the poker community were getting the kick in the teeth they so richly deserve.
Ferguson is not solely responsible for the demise of online poker in America. In fact, he may have very little to do with Full Tilt Poker’s failure to segregate players’ money from operating funds. We don’t know if he was involved in the decision to pay out millions of dollars in distributions to Full Tilt owners. Plus, he’s not the only one to blame for the failure of those owners to pay back anything close to what they essentially stole from players.
However, Ferguson did line his pockets with Full Tilt Poker money. Plus, as a member of the company’s board, Ferguson was at the very least negligent, along with the rest of the board in allowing the shortfall disaster to play out on his watch. He also went quiet after the shit hit the fan and has never once opened up publically about the Full Tilt Poker debacle. When Ferguson returned to live poker at the 2016 WSOP, he refused to say a word. No apology to the poker community was offered. No opportunity to fess up as to his role in the entire debacle was taken. Nothing.
Should the punishment fit the crime?
I’m not sure what the punishment should be for such transgressions. I just feel like it’s unfair to those affected to allow him to play poker at the WSOP every day. He goes about his business as if it never happened. The fact he’s competing for Player of the Year honors makes it seem even worse.
So why do I also feel like some of the people are getting what they deserve? Well, the community didn’t rally together to make a serious effort to drum Ferguson out. They certainly have before with much easier targets. Now they’re simply sitting back and making light of the situation. Instead of taking the situation seriously, they’re making jokes on social media.
The joke is on them now. Ferguson isn’t just playing at the WSOP, he’s winning.
Seeing his name in the headlines, and in pictures wearing the same urban cowboy get up he used to promote Full Tilt Poker serves as a constant reminder of how bad things got.
Ultimately, it’s really just the social media comedians and those that jumped on the bandwagon of more popular battles that are getting their just desserts here. The overwhelming majority of those who had part of their lives turned upside down, and the poker community as a whole, definitely don’t deserve this.
PokerGo piles it on with Poker After Dark reboot
That’s why it’s so unfathomable that the new PokerGO poker content subscription service is ostensibly fanning the flames.
This week, Poker Central announced it was relaunching the former Full Tilt Poker vehicle Poker After Dark. The revamp will begin airing in August exclusively on PokerGO. In the past, the popular show was essentially a Full Tilt ad buy and remains synonymous with the brand.
The original show was buried alongside its sponsor in 2011. In truth, it probably should have stayed there. The show’s return is really just another reminder of the entire Full Tilt Poker debacle, just like Ferguson’s POY run.
A whole new Poker After Dark
Of course, the Full Tilt Poker brand isn’t likely to be found anywhere near the new Poker After Dark broadcasts. Former Full Tilt Poker owners like Ferguson and Howard Lederer aren’t likely to be invited to compete either. However, the Poker After Dark name is still highly likely to evoke memories of Full Tilt Poker, and for many, those memories sting.
At the very least, Poker Central, PokerGO and producers Poker PROductions are being slightly insensitive to that. Poker After Dark didn’t invent the sit and go and cash game formats it featured in the past. There’s no reason bringing them back requires the use of that name.
Producers could have just as easily come up with a new name for this repackaged Poker After Dark product. We could literally think of a dozen or more. Instead, they’ve chosen to market it on the back of this once popular brand, forgetting how close its ties to poker’s darkest day it actually is.