Poker Hall of Fame Candidate Profile: Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson

Jon Sofen
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Posted on 12/02/2020

Is Chris Ferguson deserving of a spot in the Poker Hall of Fame? We’ll let you make that decision for yourself. Instead of giving our opinion, here are the facts about his poker career.

From a player standpoint, there’s no denying Ferguson is a deserving candidate. In fact, he would have made it in years ago if not for his association with Full Tilt Poker during the 2011 Black Friday scandal. He’s now an afterthought for the Poker Hall of Fame because many poker players despise him. Most still haven’t forgiven him for his role in the scandal.

What was his role? That much still to this day isn’t certain. We do know that Ferguson, along with other executives, received a multi-million-dollar bonus from Full Tilt Poker in April 2011. That came at a time when the poker site was shut down by the U.S. Department of Justice and there weren’t any reserves available at the time to pay the players.

Many American poker players were left in the lurch by the mismanaged poker site. Some couldn’t pay their bills as they had no way of retrieving the money from their FTP player accounts. As a result, those associated with FTP at the time, including Chris Ferguson, became some of the most hated members of the poker community.

Ferguson, who was a beloved poker player pre-Black Friday, went into hiding. His pal and fellow FTP exec Howard Lederer did the same. It wasn’t until 2016 that the man more affectionately known as “Jesus” returned to the WSOP. But still to this day, he’s never fully apologized for his role in the Black Friday scandal and, in fact, he hasn’t even shared his side of the story.

Chris Ferguson the poker player

It’s unlikely Chris Ferguson will receive many votes for the Poker Hall of Fame based on his association with Full Tilt Poker. But he’s undeniably one of the best tournament players in history and also a former world champion.

“Jesus” has six World Series of Poker bracelets to his name, and would likely have more if not for his absence from the WSOP from 2011-2015. He won the 2000 Main Event and reached two World Poker Tour final tables. On top of that, a year after his return to poker, he took down the WSOP Player of the Year award.

In total, Ferguson has $9.6 million in lifetime live tournament winnings. He won in the pre-poker boom days, during the poker boom era, and has been successful at the WSOP since returning five years following Black Friday. He no longer competes in any non-WSOP live tournaments and rarely appears in any local poker rooms these days.

Nominations for the 2020 Poker Hall of Fame class are open to fans. You can make your selection from the WSOP.com website this week. On December 16, the finalists will be turned over to a 32-member panel that will vote on the winner. That individual will be announced December 30 at the WSOP Main Event final table finale.

Featured image source: Flickr