Former Full Tilt Exec Lederer: ‘I Take Full Responsibility’ For Post-Black Friday Debacle

Dustin Gouker May 20, 2016 1613 Reads

Former Full Tilt Poker executive Howard Lederer issued an apology for the events that led to the poker site failing to have funds on hand to pay all its players in the wake of 2011’s Black Friday.

Lederer, in part, said “I take full responsibility for Full Tilt’s failure to protect player deposits leading up to Black Friday.”

You can read the whole apology here, which was posted at poker pro Daniel Negreanu’s blog. Negreanu had been one of Lederer’s most vocal critics.

The abbreviated history of Lederer and Full Tilt

In the wake of its domain being seized by the U.S. Department of Justice in April of 2011, Full Tilt was not able to refund all account balances because of a failure to segregate operational and player funds. PokerStars went on to buy the Full Tilt platform and refund all players.

Lederer, the public face of Full Tilt, settled a civil complaint stemming from Black Friday in 2012. He’s pretty much stayed out of the poker spotlight ever since, other than a series of interviews he did called the Lederer Files.

The Lederer apology, at a glance

Lederer does not get into much in the way of details about the events leading up to Full Tilt having a massive shortfall of funds, but endeavors to apologize. In the wake of Black Friday, Lederer admits that Full Tilt players “trusted the site, and they trusted me, and I didn’t live up to that trust.”

More from the apology:

I take full responsibility for Full Tilt’s failure to protect player deposits leading up to Black Friday. The shortfall in player deposits should never have happened. I should have provided better oversight or made sure that responsible others provided that oversight. I was a founder in the company that launched Full Tilt, and I became the face of the company’s management in the poker community. Many of our players played on the site because they trusted me.

At the same time, Lederer also deflects some of the blame, pointing out he really wasn’t in charge when things went down:

Even though I was no longer overseeing day to day operations, my inattention in the two years leading up to Black Friday imperiled players’ deposits. My involvement in Full Tilt from 2003-2008 put me in a unique position of trust—a trust that I disappointed by failing to ensure that Full Tilt was properly governed when I stepped away in 2008. My failure to make sure proper oversight was in place when I left resulted in the situation that began to unfold on Black Friday.

Why now for the Lederer apology?

It’s a curious time for an apology from Lederer, and years overdue, according to most of the poker-playing public that had money on Full Tilt when Black Friday happened.

Why now? First, the apology comes as the Full Tilt software platform is being retired and the player pool merged with PokerStars. That’s led to some nostalgia for Full Tilt — once the No. 2 online poker site worldwide and in the U.S. And perhaps that was what triggered Lederer to speak.

The other main theory of why Lederer apologized now? He might plan on showing up for the World Series of Poker that starts later this month. Negreanu hinted at that, writing, “My guess is that he just wants to be able to play poker again without the vitriol sent in his direction.”

We’ll find out if that theory is correct in short order — showing up without some sort of blanket apology before the WSOP in Las Vegas likely would have ended poorly for him.

Does anyone care that Lederer apologized now?

Had Lederer apologized in 2012 or 2013, it might have been better received by the poker world. In 2016, the apology seems to be a day late and a dollar short.

Negreanu, for his part, accepted the apology, writing “I have no interest in continuing to hold my grudge against him.”

In talking about Lederer on Twitter soon after the apology became public, poker players’ reactions generally ranged from ambivalence to cynicism.

Many people had moved on from the Full Tilt debacle years ago, even though claims in the U.S. regarding player funds are still being dealt with today. The Lederer apology certainly tests the idea of “better late than never.”

Photo by flipchip / LasVegasVegas.com used under license CC BY-SA 3.0

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