Chris Ferguson: Professional Poker and Possible Con-Artist

Chris Ferguson is an exceptional poker player who uses his in depth knowledge of mathematics and game theory to improve his understanding of the game and to beat his competitors. He has won a total of five WSOP gold bracelets, becoming a multi-millionaire and number nine on California's All Time Money List in the process.

After a scandal emerged in 2011 associated with Ferguson's company Full Tilt Poker, there was hard evidence against Ferguson revealing that his actions within the company contributed the loss of millions of dollars for its loyal customers.

Early Years

Chris Ferguson was born in Los Angeles, California. Both Ferguson's parents have Ph D's in mathematics and his father, Thomas Ferguson, also taught a class on game theory and theoretical probability at UCLA. With the help of his father, Ferguson began playing poker at the tender age of ten and soon realized he had a natural talent for the game.

Ferguson, following in his parent's footsteps, attended UCLA and graduated with a Ph.D. in Computer Science and a concentration in artificial intelligence. It was during his time at UCLA that he started playing at free poker sites and in low limit stud and hold' em games at various Las Vegas casinos. Ferguson developed a highly successful mathematical approach to the game with the help of the internet and software simulations that he created himself.

It was at this time that he started wearing his trademark black cowboy hat and sunglasses, trying to disguise the fact that he was a college student. This iconic style along with his long brown hair and beard is why people starting calling him, "Jesus."

Poker Achievements

In 1994, he began playing in tournaments and within a year he was ready to enter his first World Series of Poker event. Ferguson finished 5th in the $1,500 limit Razz event and continued competing in WSOP tournaments for several years before accomplishing any huge wins.

Ferguson's career finally launched in 2000, when he won the World Series of Poker No Limit Texas Hold'em World Championship, along with the Seven Card Stud event. For more details on these two wins or any of the five WSOP bracelets that Ferguson has won throughout his career, please feel free to take a look at the table below.

World Series of Poker Bracelets

Year

Tournament

Prize

2000 $2,500 Seven Card Stud $151,000
2000 $10,000 No Limit Texas Hold 'em World Championship $1,500,000
2001 $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo Split Eight or Better $164,735
2003 $2,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Split Eight or Better $123,680
2003 $2,000 1/2 Limit Hold'em - 1/2 Seven Card Stud $66,220

Ferguson excels in poker tournaments outside of the WSOP as well. He has accomplished eleven money finishes at the World Poker Tour and he finished second in back-to-back years of NBC's National Heads-Up Championships in 2005 and 2006. He took a year off from the competition, but came back in 2008 taking home first place this time for a staggering $500,000.

His most recent accomplishments occurred in 2010, when he placed first in episode nine of the Poker Lounge, for $120,000 in prize money. He also finished third in Full Tilt Poker's online No Limit Texas Hold'em tournament.

$10,000 Challenge

As a former member of the Full Tilt Poker Team, he thrives at playing in online poker tournaments too. On the talk show, Poker Night Live, he claimed to have turned $1 into more than $10,000 over the span of six months by playing on the Full Tilt Poker website. Ferguson challenges other players to try to do the same as he did, saying it's not as difficult as one may think.

Ferguson believes that in order to be able to do the challenge successfully, you have to have good bankroll management, "First, you should never play in a game that is beyond your bankroll simply because the game seems to be soft that day. It's never soft enough to risk money that puts your bankroll in jeopardy. The other point is that you should avoid playing in games that are at the top of your bankroll limits, when a lower game offers more opportunity for profit," he said in an interview with Bluff Magazine.

Full Tilt Poker Scandal

In 2004, Ferguson teamed up with Howard Lederer, Phil Ivey, Jennifer Harman, and other professional poker players to design and launch Full Tilt Poker, which was nearly an instant success and brought in millions of dollars in revenue for the founding members.

Its loyal customers lost their faith in the company after the infamous Black Friday of 2011, which forced companies like Full Tilt to shut down, revealing that they didn't have the necessary funds to cover the withdraws their customers had to make.

After a deeper look into the issue, police discovered that Ferguson and other executives may have been taking their customer's deposits and using them for their own personal gain. Ferguson has denied all allegations against him, claiming the issues with customer's funds can be linked to mismanagement and were certainly not planned.

Since the scandal, Ferguson has yet to compete in another World Series of Poker because of all the negative feedback he got after he announced he was thinking about it in 2014. Former fans of his and all those who were affected by the Full Tilt scandal hope to never see Ferguson at one of these tournaments ever again.

Personal Life

Although during games Ferguson was always very quiet, not wanting to give off any clues to his fellow opponents about his hand, in between games he is full of personality. He could often be found throwing his cards and trying to slice bananas and other fruits and vegetables for entertainment and publicity. Ferguson also started advertising for various commercials including a series of Milwaukee's Best Light beer commercials.

Ferguson is an avid ballroom dancer and is proficient in all the dances including: the foxtrot, waltz, tango, and the mambo. His all time favorite dance is the West Coast Swing, which is a form of dance he learned back when he was in high school.

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