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A List of Players Who Should be Barred From WSOP?

by Daniel Negreanu |  Published: Feb 20, '15

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WSOP 2015 is around the corner and rumor has it that we may see some faces we haven't seen there in a while. I've always been of the position that unless people have been found to actually cheat at poker, they should be allowed to attend. Cheating on your wife, your taxes, or borrowing money with no intention to pay, aren't examples of actions that the WSOP should persecute. If they did, man, we might see an 85% drop in attendance at the very least!

Russ Hamilton and Mansour Matloubi: I'm grouping these two together since they are guilty of the same crime, using a God mode program allowing them to see their opponents hole cards online. While this isn't a case that has been ruled on in the court of law, the evidence is overwhelmingly one-sided that at the very least, these two men were involved in cheating players out of millions. There isn't concrete evidence that these players have cheated at live poker. I have heard rumors, but they aren't enough to incriminate.
The question is: should cheating at online poker cross over to the WSOP deciding if it will allow these players entry into their tournaments? This year, the WSOP is offering a online poker bracelet, and while the cheating didn't happen on their site, should that matter? Also, what level of cheating is worthy of a ban? There are plenty of online players who have admitted to cheating/multi-accounting, but I don't think that warrants a ban from WSOP live events. Players like Dan Coleman and Justin Bonomo are just two examples of players who have admitted to multi-accounting in the past.
I think what Russ and Mansour did is obviously a much worse crime and neither should be allowed entry into the WSOP for life. Not that they care.

Chris Ferguson: At this point, it appears that Chris Ferguson's role in the demise of FTP was that of a board member. Once Black Friday hit, he has completely disappeared. No statement, no sight of the man in almost four years since that dreaded day. Based on what I've gathered, he was essentially MIA when FTP was trying to find a buyer so they could pay back the players. That's been confirmed to me by several sources. He essentially hid under the covers hoping it would all just go away.
So, does his behavior and lack of willingness to stand responsible for his role in the crash of FTP warrant a WSOP ban? No, I don't think so. I'm not pleased by how he handled things, disappearing just never seems like the most responsible choice, but to my knowledge Chris has never cheated anyone at the poker table.

Annie Duke and Jeffrey Pollack: I'm grouping these two together because of their association with the Epic Poker League which defrauded players out of a "guaranteed" million dollar freeroll. Players ponied up their own money against other elite pros with the promise of added money being incentive enough to do so. To this date, I don't believe that any of the players who participated have been reimbursed, and I don't see that ever happening. Jeffrey was never a poker player anyway, but Annie used to play in WSOP events regularly. Since the fall of the Epic Poker League she hasn't been seen around poker circles.
So, players are owed money, and these two were responsible to varying degrees for that. Should that warrant a WSOP ban? As wrong as I think it is to not even acknowledge this debt or make any strides towards making the players whole, I still don't think it warrants a WSOP ban. Not that it's directly comparable, but there are plenty of poker players playing the WSOP that owe people money with no intention of ever paying. Add these names to that list if they ever decide to play the WSOP again.

Howard Lederer: As many of you likely know I've been very critical of Howard and his handling of the FTP mess that occurred a few years ago. There is no question, that he, the other board members, as well as the owners were all at fault for FTP not being able to pay back it's players after Black Friday.

Do I think it was a ponzi scheme? That's an absurd notion. Do I think it was gross negligence by management? Absolutely. A lack of oversight allowed for Ray Bitar to run the company into the ground. I've heard from various sources that not only was Ray in over his head, he was flat out lying to the other owners about the financial status of the company.
Howard, for many years was an integral part of operations at FTP before stepping down at some point before Black Friday. Most people assumed he was still running things, and Howard certainly played the part of the "guy behind the guy" if you will.
Once the news broke that FTP was insolvent, based on sources I've spoken to, Howard spent every day trying to find a way to get the players paid. Many of the owners didn't agree with the direction Howard wanted to take the company, but it seemed to be a consensus that Howard's main purpose and motivation was to get the players paid.
In come PokerStars to save the day, and players have been made whole as far as I'm aware. PokerStars bought FTP and paid back all the outstanding debts. So at this point, while you can like or dislike Howard Lederer as a person- that is your choice, of course, I think it's clear that he should have every right to play in WSOP events. Aside from players having been paid now, to my knowledge he has never cheated at poker, nor have there ever been rumors about him doing so.

I've had strong opinions on all of these people mentioned over the last 10-20 years, but if I'm being fair, outside of Russ Hamilton and Mansour Matloubi, I would have no problem playing the WSOP in 2015 against any of the other names mentioned.

 
Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of CardPlayer.com.
 

Comments

GordonGejko
over 1 year ago

Men Nguyen?

 
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Zack2
over 1 year ago

What did Men do?

honestly, if they didnt cheat at live poker i dont see why they all cant play. WSOP isnt online, and online and live poker are two different worlds. Maybe if pokerstars didnt pay everyone back i would say give the FTP players a ban, but only because i believe their attendance would just cause more problems. Daniel knows more than anybody, but i dont see people like Howard or Jesus cheating in live poker. While they, along with Duke, should give some kind of statement, sometimes being quiet is the best thing. I cant blame these people for going after big money when its there. Like Duke being in charge of a poker league or Howard being in front office. They are hustlers for a living. Personally i think you should give these people a chance to get on tv and redeem themselves. Whatever happened to Gordon and Furst? Didnt they used to do stuff for charity? Only they know, maybe Daniel, but i dont see these people as bad guys. Money hungry hustlers who got caught up in a bad game. But as for poker itself, they didnt cheat at the game. Plus you have to figure if any of these guys did win a bracelet or something, they would use some of the money for good to boost their image. I know i would if i was in their position.

 
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bparmalee
over 1 year ago

Men use to enter a variety of horses and then "chip up" during the breaks. He could "win" more chips...while on break... than most players would see the entire tourney.

 
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bmpek
over 1 year ago

I am so happy that the great one ie danny boy has cleared the way for the hustlers and thieves to reenter his kingdom. I can finally get a good nights sleep knowing that danny boy has forgiven annie duke.

 
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kegs1983
over 1 year ago

Why do everyone think DN is such a poker god. He is a DB yes a bag. He does not tip when he goes out. He is so cheap. Must have learned that from Canada. That canidough is hard to come by. He should be banned from poker tournaments. He puts on such a nice smile.

 
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MahamotiDjinn
over 1 year ago

Good points from Daniel.

kegs1983 seems like a total idiot and should be banned from making comments.

 
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TheKnife
over 1 year ago

For whatever its worth, I am STILL waiting for my FullTilt money. Timely filed my claim, haven't heard a peep from the government administrator.

As for Howard, I recall Marco from QuadJacks catching Howard outside some Vegas restaurant with camera on. Howard had nothing to say when he could have at least told a bit of his side of the story. He acted very dodgy.

 
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hunkybrewster
over 1 year ago

Not sure why multi-accounting gets a pass, that's a blatant form of cheating, but I guess DN is the arbiter of morality so I'll listen to him.

 
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boyermi206
over 1 year ago

I agree, these individuals broke the rules and gained an advantage to win. I specifically remember the Bonomo case where he won a tournament due to multi accounts. I will never trust any form of online poker again.

 
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Poker7909
over 1 year ago

Not true DN . I still haven't seen my $21,000 from full tilt. Got a few emails that they are still working on it. No money and no update from full tilt for a while now

 
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havoj
over 1 year ago

I also wasn't paid back from Full Tilt, and happen to be one of the 27 players who qualified for the $1m Epic freeroll that never happened (and then we were all lied to about by Palms staff in order to keep us from pursuing a claim in the bankruptcy). But I agree with Danny here. Unless someone has been proven to cheat in a poker tournament, they should be allowed to play. Murderers, rapists, frauds, conmen, whatever. If they have the money, let them buy-in.

The biggest joke in poker in the last few years, as far as I'm concerned, was the Epic Poker League's ethics committee. I would hate to see the same thing happen with the WSOP.

 
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robtr3
over 1 year ago

Epic Poker League's Ethics Committee = NFL's Personal Conduct Policy, I guess. Good intentions, bad pragmatical foresight...someone thought gambling could be projected with the same squeaky-clean image as golf (and even that sport has its issues--thank you, Tiger Woods!).

 
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Sean30
over 1 year ago

This article is terrible.

 
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Edward10
over 1 year ago

Not sure what Negreanu has against Furgeson, but it seems a bit absurd to want to ban him because he didn't vocalize anything during the FTP demise. Because he chose not to disclose his position to the poker community doesn't mean he was a contributor to the string of bad decisions that led to the sites demise. I always thought people were innocent until proven guilty.

I think it's important to distinguish between known cheaters of the game (i.e. Russ Hamilton, Men the Master, etc.) and people who have made bad business decisions (as much as I hate the fact that FTP shut down and hasn't returned my money, I would put Howard Lederer in here, as well as Annie Duke and Jeffrey Pollack).

 
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mrdrevil2u
over 1 year ago

Wrong, wrong wrong wrong wrong. You can't be a little pregnant. You either have integrity and character or you don't. If anyone wants poker to have any "clean" legitimacy after all the online corruption you have to clean house. What you're essentially saying here is "Yeah, I know he screwed that guy but he didn't screw this other guy or me, so he's ok in my book." Good luck with that.

Someone made an NFL reference, here's another. The NFL hires players for their toughness and aggression but then expect them to be boy scouts off the field. How's that working out? How about playing this game. The WSOP is filled with known crooks and cheaters and it's a clean game. Let us have your 10k please. Uh, hold that thought and I'll get back to you.

If you think Annie Duke has clean hands you need to go back and check out her blog posts before the collapse. Yeah, she is just the gal we need back to be the face of the game.

 
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Jim36
over 1 year ago

Are any of you actually reading his blog before replying? He didn't say he wanted to ban Ferguson. In fact, he said exactly the opposite. He didn't say he wanted Annie Duke to be the face of poker. In fact, he hates Annie. But he said he'd have no problem playing poker with her. He didn't say multi-accounts online were legal, or that the guys that did it were ok. He simply said it didn't amount to a reason to ban them permanently from the WSOP. There are mistakes, which are forgivable. Yes, speeding is a crime. Yes, murder is a crime. They aren't the same.

 
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