Chris Ferguson, the former director of the Full Tilt Poker website made his first appearance in over 5 years at a live poker event when he show up last weekend to play at the ongoing 2016 World Series of Poker (WSOP).
He had kept away from the public eye as a result of the widespread condemnation and censure that he along with others directors involved with Full Tilt brand faced after the Black Friday debacle in 2011.
Poker players from Full Tilt were unable to withdraw their funds from the site after U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) shut down the online poker site in April 2011.
The company had failed to keep players’ funds segregated and had been using it for company operations and more than $444 million was siphoned away.
The U.S. DOJ subsequently amended its civil complaint against the company alleging that Ferguson along with other directors of the company had misappropriated players’ funds.
Ferguson denied the charges but the case was ultimately dismissed after Full Tilt was purchased by rival PokerStars and a plan to repay players was agreed upon.
Ferguson, a former WSOP champion having won the 2000 World Series of Poker Main Event has not been seen at any major live poker event since 2011 and therefore his appearance at the WSOP $10,000 Seven-Card Stud championship attracted a lot of interest.
Last month Full Tilt founder Howard Lederer for the first time put out a public apology for having been negligent regarding the governance of the site. It was widely speculated that it was meant as a precursor to his returning to the 2016 WSOP. While that hasn’t yet happened, Ferguson seems to have taken the opportunity to come out from the self-imposed exile though he hasn’t yet issued any statement on his role in the fiasco.
Ferguson deflected all attempts for a comment during his presence at the event saying that he was there only to play poker. Many poker players some of whom were his acquaintances were surprised to see him at the tournament but refused to make any comment on the matter.
Six-time WSOP bracelet winner Layne Flack however stepped up to defend him. In a statement, Flack said,
People realize they don't know the whole story. We can't point fingers when, basically, we don't have all the facts. He's a standup guy, and all the decisions made by Full Tilt Poker don't fall on him. I firmly believe he didn't take one dime from anybody. It's just not in his nature.