2000 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson
To say that the poker career of Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson has been an up and down journey is an understatement. He has had the amazing success of winning the World Series of Poker Main Event. He has also been a pariah of the poker scene after one of the biggest scandals in poker history. Read on to find out more about the extraordinary poker career of Chris Ferguson.
Ferguson: Early WSOP Experiences
Ferguson started playing poker in 1994 and after success in tournaments in California, he entered his first World Series of Poker events the following year. It would take a further five years for Ferguson to have success at the event. When it came, it came big. He started the 2000 WSOP with a win at the $2,500 Seven Card Stud event, picking up his first ever bracelet and $151,000 to boot. This clearly gave the confidence of Ferguson a boost, and he took full advantage of it.
2000 WSOP Main Event Victory
The Main Event in the World Series of Poker saw an entry of 512 players and a first prize on offer of $1.5 million.
Ferguson would make it to the final table alongside Mickey Appleman, Tom Franklin, Jeff Shulman, Jim McManus, Roman Abinsay, Hasan Habib, Steve Kaufman, and poker legend T. J. Cloutier.
Entering the televised final day, Ferguson was the chip leader with just five other opponents. The action was quick and within an hour just Ferguson and Cloutier remained.
Ferguson had a clear chip lead heads up but would relinquish the advantage to Cloutier. Then the cards seemed to be doing all they could to help ‘Jesus’, with two split pots with Ferguson dominated when the chips went in.
The final hand of the tournament was a similar story. The two combatants were all in pre-flop, with Ferguson holding A9 and Cloutier AQ. The flop and turn didn’t change things and it looked like Cloutier was going to win a game-changing pot. However, a 9 on the river saw Ferguson become the World Champion.
Other Major Tournament Victories for Chris Ferguson
Chris Ferguson has won six World Series of Poker titles in all. Some of his biggest successes outside of the Main Event have come outside of the WSOP. In March 2005, he would win the WSOP circuit event at Harrah’s Rincon, winning $655,000.
His heads-up play shone through in 2008, winning the NBC Heads-Up Championship and a half a million-dollar prize fund. With big wins in several different poker disciplines, it’s clear that Ferguson has a first-class all-round game.
Poker Playing Style / Strategy of Chris Ferguson
Ferguson has always relied heavily on the math of the game, with a strong knowledge of game theory. Generally tighter than other players at the table, his methodical and measured approach has stood him in good stead at the tables.
Before and After the World Series of Poker Win
Chris Ferguson was born in Los Angeles, California to parents who both have doctoral degrees in mathematics. He attended UCLA and earned a PHD in computer science in 1999 after five years as an undergraduate and 13 years as a graduate student.
He learnt poker in the chat rooms playing IRC Poker (an online forerunner to online poker over the IRC chat protocol).
After his win 2000, little did Ferguson know that he would be embroiled in one of the biggest scandals to ever hit poker. In 2004, he became one of the founders of Full Tilt poker, which quickly grew to be one of the leading online sites on the planet.
On September 20th, 2011, the US Department of Justice amended a civil complaint against Ferguson and fellow board members Howard Lederer and Rafe Furst. The complaint stated that the board members, ‘lined their own pockets with funds picked from the pockets of their most loyal customers while blithely lying to both players and the public alike about the safety and security of the money deposited’.
in 2013, Ferguson reached a settlement with the Department of Justice, forfeiting all funds and agreeing to pay over $2.3 million.
In recent years, Ferguson has made an unpopular return to the World Series of Poker. In 2017 he became the ‘Player of the Year’.
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