Road to a win
Ferguson was not the crowd favorite to win the title amid years of allegations surrounding Full Tilt Poker along with the often criticized formula for the 2017 POY race. That said, it would be difficult to ignore Ferguson’s credentials in any year.
In Las Vegas, Nevada Ferguson racked up a record 17 cashes at the WSOP this summer. Those payouts included two final tables in $10,000 buy-in events and a second place finish in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud event. Holding the lead coming into WSOP Europe, Ferguson finished off his run in dominating fashion by winning his sixth career bracelet in the €1,650 pot-limit Omaha eight-or-better event.
Ferguson added six more cashes to his total and will have his banner hung in the Rio come the 2018 World Series of Poker.
The poker community at large was none too happy with Ferguson’s win. This was exemplified by the tweets of Matt Salsberg and Parker Talbot.
One player who found some joy in Ferguson’s win is the all-time leader in WSOP bracelets in Phil Hellmuth. As a player who swings public opinion, Hellmuth posing with Ferguson could become an indelible image for Hellmuth should any incriminating news come out about Ferguson in the near future.
Then again, it appears that Hellmuth has no issue associating with controversial figures as evidenced by his social media trail of dinners and helicopter rides with King’s Casino owner Leon Tsoukernik.
The first reply to Hellmuth’s tweet is from Daniel Negreanu, who admonishes Hellmuth for the post.
Poker’s two most popular stars are standing on either side of the Ferguson debate but the public has stood against him from the time he came back into the poker spotlight.
Since Ferguson returned to the WSOP in 2016, the poker community has been less than pleased with his emergence. Last year, Shawn Daniels echoed the sentiments of many by directing a coarse phrase toward Ferguson.
In his first year back from poker exile, Ferguson put together a spectacular summer with 10 WSOP cashes. There is no doubt that Ferguson’s skills remained despite his years away from tournaments but the public ridicule would not diminish.
Path to redemption
Although Ferguson was never legally convicted of any wrongdoing in the Full Tilt Poker case, the court of public opinion has already decided. Ferguson’s lack of a formal apology, when given the chance, has not helped him either.
Sports fans will tell you, they are willing to forgive athletes for criminal transgressions provided the production outweighs the allegations. So why can’t Ferguson outrun his past and move into the good graces of the poker public?
The issue likely lies within Ferguson not formally apologizing and when asked to do so, replying with “apologize for what?” The poker community is not as forgiving when it comes to crimes committed “against the family” and at this stage, Ferguson is likely forever a pariah and villain.
There seems to be only one thing left for Ferguson to do to get back in the good graces of the public.
When the World Series of Poker opens in 2018, Ferguson’s banner will be unveiled in the Rio and he will have the chance to speak. Speak on what is anyone’s guess. Should he deliver a speech that includes an apology of any form, there is a chance he will be able to move on from the hate levied against him.
If the past is any indication, Ferguson will keep it short and remain in the shadows. A cowboy roaming through the dark wanted dead or alive.