What Ever Happened To Chris “Jesus” Ferguson?
Chris “Jesus” Ferguson was one of the most prominent people during the early days of the poker boom. He was one of the key figures behind Full Tilt Poker, a name that still lives in the memories of players all over the world.
Although he’s today a pariah of the community, the man nicknamed “Jesus” for his trademark long hair was once a favorite among players and poker fans.
Ferguson has always demonstrated a unique passion for the game, and his mathematical background helped him create a rather impressive career.
His calm and composed demeanor at the tables and his desire to bring poker to the masses made him very popular in the 2000s.
However, his involvement with Full Tilt – the thing he was so proud of – would turn out to be his demise.
Following the events of Black Friday in April of 2011, Chris Ferguson failed to take responsibility or even offer a sincere apology for possibly the biggest scandal in online poker history.
The poker community would never forgive this, and for a good reason.
While the sudden closure of Full Tilt was just an inconvenience for some, many players had their entire bankrolls locked up on the site. Their livelihood was at stake and their futures looked very uncertain.
Yet, Ferguson and others didn’t seem very sympathetic.
Shortly after Black Friday, “Jesus” pretty much disappeared from public life.
So, what really happened to Chris Ferguson after the Full Tilt fiasco? What’s he been up to, and is he trying to claw his way back inside the poker community?
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) Settlement
When Full Tilt went under, players focused mostly on what would happen next in terms of their money.
When it became clear that the room didn’t have player funds, it created a big fuss in the community.
No one knew what would come next, and many people had tens, and even hundreds of thousands locked away on the site.
With the public mostly focusing on the bigger picture, the people responsible for the fiasco were focused on protecting their own interests.
Chris “Jesus” Ferguson was one of them.
Although he was no longer one of the top people in Full Tilt in 2011, the DOJ still found evidence that he was at least partially aware of what was happening and did nothing to prevent it.
The first order of business was to avoid any criminal persecution as those charges could actually involve prison time.
So, in 2013, Ferguson managed to reach a settlement with the DOJ, forfeiting all funds in the infamous “Ferguson Account” and agreed to pay over $2.3 million.
As a part of the settlement, Ferguson had also agreed to give up on any potential monetary claims he had against Full Tilt. Before its lights went out, he calimed the room owed him millions in remunerations.
So, “Jesus” did have to pay some money, but no one knows exactly how much money was in the mysterious account.
What was much more important is that the settlement made it clear that he admitted to no wrongdoing in the whole scandal.
Although poorer, he was a free man and no longer had to worry about the DOJ coming after him.
How Much Was Ferguson To Blame for Full Tilt Fiasco?
To this day, it remains unclear how big Ferguson’s responsibility was in the Full Tilt scandal.
According to him, he was unaware of what was happening behind the scenes but he did admit that he was at fault for not being more involved and paying more attention.
Recently, Ferguson has tried to reintegrate into the poker community, and in 2018, he published a short video (which has been removed since).
The video was an apology of sorts. But for many this was way too little, way too late.
In the video, he expressed his regret over not being able to prevent Black Friday from happening and stated that he had been working relentlessly since the fiasco to get all players paid.
In conclusion to this video, Ferguson made a very interesting remark, hinting that the real story behind Full Tilt Poker still remains a mystery.
“One day, the Full Tilt Poker story will be told, and like many of you, I look forward to that day.”
Take from this statement what you will, but it does seem like “Jesus” is eager for the full truth to come to light.
Is this an honest statement or just a ploy to confuse the community?
No one knows for sure.
The Return Of Chris “Jesus” Ferguson
For several years after Full Tilt went belly-up, Ferguson was nowhere to be seen.
He wasn’t playing in any live events and, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, he wasn’t active on any online sites, either.
He was focused on the DOJ case against him, and he was probably aware that the community wouldn’t welcome him.
But then came 2016 and without any announcement, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson walked inside Rio, all set to play in the World Series of Poker.
To say the poker community was outraged would be an understatement. Many were publically calling for him to be banned from the WSOP.
Although by this point the Full Tilt scandal was largely a thing of the past and most players had been reimbursed, the poker world wasn’t ready to welcome Ferguson back.
But he clearly knew what he was walking into and he didn’t let that disturb his plans.
The very first event he registered for was a $10,000 Seven Card Stud tournament, which he busted from fairly quickly.
He wasn’t very talkative during the event, and he insisted he was there “just to play poker.”
Ferguson proceeded to play several more tournaments that year, clearly announcing his comeback to the circuit.
A WSOP Regular Once Again
In the next few years, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson was there for every World Series of Poker.
After his 2016 “debut”, he came back for 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Players weren’t thrilled about it and the poker public wasn’t too happy, either, but Ferguson somehow brushed it all off.
In fact, in 2017, he put up quite a show, winning the Player of the Year title!
Not surprisingly, some in the community were upset about it and believed it was “not good for poker.”
Though, players from the younger generation didn’t seem to care that much as many of them weren’t as affected by the Full Tilt scandal or had simply moved on.
One way or another, Ferguson won his POY title fair and square.
His run through the 2017 WSOP was really impressive and included a large number of cashes, several final tables, and even a fresh bracelet won in the European leg.
It became clear that despite the long break, Ferguson still knew how to play cards and still had a passion for the game.
Whatever anyone’s opinion on him as a person might be, no one could take that away from him.
In 2018, he was back once again, although his run wasn’t as impressive and it was also becoming an old story of sorts.
Ferguson was back on the grind and people were starting to move on from that topic.
But then “Jesus” decided to publish his apology video and things blew up again.
The Chris “Jesus” Ferguson Apology Video
Even during his glory days, Ferguson wasn’t the one for cameras. His interviews were usually brief and he didn’t enjoy public appearances.
So, when he decided to publish a video in 2018, the community was taken aback. It wasn’t something you’d expect from “Jesus.”
The video itself was more in line with what you’d expect, though.
It was a very short recording in which Chris expressed his regrets over the whole Full Tilt situation.
However, he once again denied responsibility for it, beyond the fact that he could have perhaps prevented the whole thing had he been more involved.
In some ways, this was the kind of video that the poker public expected back in 2011. But at that point, seven years later, it felt underwhelming.
After all that time, was this the best the former Full Tilt honcho could come up with?
The video sparked a rather lively discussion on social media channels, especially on Twitter, dividing the poker public.
For example, Negreanu responded with a comment that the video “had him in tears” and openly asked what others were thinking. Did it really take Chris all this time to come up with such a brief statement that once again offered no real explanation?
Many shared Negreanu’s views, including the famous vlogger Joey Ingram, a well-known player Dan O’Brien, and others.
At the same time, a portion of the community was more open to hearing what Ferguson had to say and offered support.
The most prominent name in the unpopular camp was Phil Hellmuth, who expressed his opinion that many in the community judged Ferguson too harshly.
It seemed Ferguson didn’t get the response he was looking for as he removed it from Vimeo shortly after, although its contents are available all over the internet in written form.
Perhaps it’s true that Chris “Jesus” Ferguson wasn’t aware of what was going on at Full Tilt in the last years and months before its demise.
Perhaps he was just as surprised as everyone else when it went under and players’ money was gone.
But this still doesn’t answer the question of why he decided to remain pretty much silent while the world was burning around him.
Maybe he was bound by a contract of some sort, or maybe his talking would implicate him somehow even if he wasn’t fully aware of everything.
It’s really a guessing game at this point, and no one will know for sure unless some new details come to light.
What Chris “Jesus” Ferguson’s Been Up To Recently
The live poker scene pretty much came to a stop in 2020.
Live events were canceled and things are only starting to get back on track – very, very slowly.
So, what was Ferguson up to in the recent period?
According to Hendon Mob, he was very active during the 2020 online World Series of Poker.
Ferguson cashed in 21 events in 2020, which suggests he played quite a lot.
Interestingly enough, he has results from WSOP.com and GGPoker, so he played both the US-only and the worldwide tournaments.
Despite many finishes in the money, Ferguson didn’t have any notable results.
His biggest win was for $85,000, but that came from the $25K Poker Players Championship. His best finish was 9th place in a $600 six-max event, which netted him $14,405.
Other than this, not much is known about Ferguson’s whereabouts or his plans.
He’s been staying true to his “I’m just here to play poker” mantra for the most part, silently grinding away at the tables without making much fuss.
Although the community didn’t actually welcome him, Chris Ferguson managed to become a part of the poker world once again.
He might still be an outcast and a controversial character but this doesn’t seem to impact his abilities on the felt whatsoever.
It’s only natural to wonder: What comes next for Chris Ferguson? With his history, It’s unlikely he’ll become an ambassador for any big brand any time soon.
Maybe he’ll eventually come up with a longer and more meaningful explanation of what happened at Full Tilt and his role in the whole thing.
It feels like he’d have to share one hell of an explanation at this point for the general poker public to absolve his sins – but, who knows?
He might still have an ace up his sleeve that he’s been saving for the right moment.
Either way, it seems pretty clear that Ferguson intends to keep playing poker, especially tournaments, which have always been his forte.
Anything beyond that is anybody’s guess!
More in this series: