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A Statement from Howard Lederer

by Daniel Negreanu |  Published: May 19, '16

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During that period I was extremely vocal about my displeasure with him personally and with how everything was being handled. Looking back, while I stand by what I said back then, I would have handled it a little differently. It’s been five years now and I’ve grown up a little since then. I don’t regret being vocal about it all, but I would have left out the talk of baseball bats and handled my response more responsibly.

I’ve spoken to a few people about whether or not I should be the one to release a statement from Howard Lederer and I didn’t get much support. I heard:
"Why should it be you?”
"Let him just post it on his own. You posting it is an endorsement of him and what he is writing.”

Ultimately, I think the poker community will want to read this message and the vehicle is less important than the message itself. My posting of it, is neither an endorsement or a condemnation. I’m simply the messenger and I will provide my two cents on the statement below. Here is Howard’s statement to the poker community:

Howard's Statement:

I am writing to apologize to everyone in the poker community, especially to all the players who had money on Full Tilt Poker on April 15, 2011. When Full Tilt Poker closed in 2011, there was a shortfall in funds, a distressed sale to recover those funds, and a long delay in repaying players. Throughout this period, there was little explanation for the delay, and no apology. Players felt lied to. They trusted the site, and they trusted me, and I didn’t live up to that trust.

I take full responsibility for Full Tilt’s failure to protect player deposits leading up to Black Friday. The shortfall in player deposits should never have happened. I should have provided better oversight or made sure that responsible others provided that oversight. I was a founder in the company that launched Full Tilt, and I became the face of the company’s management in the poker community. Many of our players played on the site because they trusted me.

Even though I was no longer overseeing day to day operations, my inattention in the two years leading up to Black Friday imperiled players’ deposits. My involvement in Full Tilt from 2003-2008 put me in a unique position of trust—a trust that I disappointed by failing to ensure that Full Tilt was properly governed when I stepped away in 2008. My failure to make sure proper oversight was in place when I left resulted in the situation that began to unfold on Black Friday. Players were not able to get their money back for a minimum of a year and a half, and, for many, it has been much longer. I’ve been a poker player my entire adult life. I know the importance of having access to one’s bankroll. The lost opportunity, frustration, and anxiety many of FTP’s customers experienced in the intervening years is unacceptable. I cannot be sorry enough for what happened.

During Full Tilt’s rise, I received a lot of praise. I couldn’t see it at the time, but I let the headlines change me. In the first couple of years after Black Friday I made lots of excuses, to my friends, my family and myself, for why I wasn’t the bad guy or big-headed or wrong. In the months immediately following the crisis, I focused a lot of energy on trying to refute allegations that were factually untrue. I convinced myself that I was a victim of circumstance and that criticism was being unfairly directed toward me instead of others. I was missing the bigger picture.

At a wedding in the fall of 2014, I was sitting with a friend, talking about Full Tilt. I was grumbling about how unfair my lot in life had become. My friend didn’t let me off the hook. I’m paraphrasing here, but he said, “Howard, it doesn’t matter whether you knew about the shortfall or what you did to help players get paid. These players feel like you lied to them. You were the face of the company in the poker community. Thousands of players played on the site because they trusted you. Many pros represented the site because they thought you were in control. And you happily accepted the accolades while falling short of their trust.”

At the time, my friend’s response felt like a slap in the face, but it is clear to me now that it was fair. An apology is not enough, but it is what I am able to offer to the poker community in the wake of a travesty that I should not have allowed to happen. I am sorry.

************************************************************

I think this is the kind of apology people would have liked to read five years ago. It may be too little too late for some, but it’s a far cry from The Lederer Files. Does it definitively answer all the questions surrounding what he knew and what he didn’t know? No. Does it change the fact that people who trusted Howard, both investors and customers alike, were let down? No. Does it mean that you should be any less pissed at him for what happened? That one is up to you I guess.

Thankfully, PokerStars came to the rescue a few years ago and made a deal with the DOJ to take over the company and make sure that the customers with money on the site were paid. Without PokerStars, it seems highly likely that none of the players who ultimately got paid would have ever gotten their money. I do know that Howard was working on multiple deals during that time, but from what I heard, it didn’t seem like any of those deals would have panned out if not for PokerStars.

With Full Tilt Poker merging with PokerStars this week, it marks the end of an era. Some call it the “golden era.” The perfect storm that created a poker boom like we’d never seen before and may never see again. The Full Tilt Poker chapter has been closed, and It appears as though Howard wanted to write this apology to turn the page on his own life. My guess is that many will have no interest in an apology from him. I do think there are some who, despite it changing nothing, will appreciate it.

If anything, I think writing this statement is good for him. It’s the right thing to do. Of course, I wish it happened five years ago but it doesn’t seem like Howard was in a place where he was ready to take responsibility for his role back then. In this statement, he does, and at the very least, I would imagine that its a relief for him to get it off his chest. The choice to accept his apology is a personal one. There is no right or wrong way to receive it. For what its worth, I personally believe the apology to be genuine.

I don’t, however, expect Howard to ever be in charge of making decisions in the poker community in the future and I don’t think he has any aspirations to. My guess is that he just wants to be able to play poker again without the vitriol sent in his direction. Will this apology accomplish that? I don’t know. I can only say that for me, I’m not bothered by him being at the poker table anymore. The players have been paid and he seems to be finally acknowledging and owning that he really screwed up. I have no interest in continuing to hold my grudge against him. I don’t expect us to ever be “pals,” as we never really were even before, but the venom I once held inside for him has subsided and I’d also like to close that chapter of my own life.
 
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

Barry2
4 years ago

I bet he is still living on the money he stole from players, at least Russ Hamilton hides in shame. He is a liar and a thief. This apologize is just another hustle.

 
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spinedoc52
4 years ago

Daniel: I am astounded that you of all people would accept this apology. Knowingly or not, Howard did a lot more then just mess up. He stole money, was completely inept, and then on the advice of his attorneys, hid in the shadows until the coast was clear. I expect a lot more from you. You may forgive his ignorance, but nobody should accept his apology.

 
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michaeRoss
4 years ago

Sorry to make this personal, I've known you peripherally for years through mutual friends, but I am very disappointed in you.

You're of course entitled to express your opinions but I am disturbed your recent blog accepting the sincerity of Lederer's apology.

How could you not be bothered with him at the poker table? He'd be playing with money he basically pilfered at best, stole at worst, from Full Tilt players' accounts.

A zebra doesn't change it's stripes, his behavior during and for the years after the debacle proves him to be a person of low character.

I used to respect your written and video blogs but now between this blog and your recent stance re the Poker Stars controversial changes, I no longer consider you a person who speaks for the best overall interests of the general poker community.

Sincerely, Mike Ross

 
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Jeremy15
4 years ago

"I take full responsibility for Full Tilt’s failure to protect player deposits"

Oh? Then Howard personally should have paid us all back.

It took his friend saying what he did to make Howard realize how badly he'd wronged people. This wasn't already clear to him??? That tells us a lot about who he truly is.

 
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mrdrevil2u
4 years ago

Sullying your own reputation again by allowing HL to leverage your good will and give him a louder voice in the community is a risky move. Your reputation is already diminished a but in your defense of Annie Duke.

Keep going, keep this up long enough and sooner or later someone will be asking what you, Daniel are getting for this support. Or maybe someone needs to ask what you got back in the day and didn't get caught. Why waste your time trying to help a pack of crooks? You know, it always seems to be that people of a similar character run together. Have anything you want to get off your chest?

There are lots of younger unsullied players to follow and support. We had a good run.

 
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notCIA
4 years ago

How does Daniel figure "the players have been paid"?
Even the players who did get their money back lost the use of their money for a year and a half. There was no retribution for that. And allegedly, some people have claims representing millions of dollars that still have not been paid.
Does anybody wonder if the FTP Ponzi scheme was just the excuse the US government was looking for to shut down all the poker sites? If so, Howard's responsible for that too.
I don't believe Howard for a second. I don't think he cares about anyone other than himself.
He wants us to believe all of a sudden after 2008 he doesn't know what FTP should be making in profits and able to distribute to the owners and operators?
And look at his sister. What, you think it's just an accident they are both lacking morals and ethics?
Unfortunately in the poker world, money talks, and if Howard shows up at a table with a roll, there will be some who will sit and play with him. I guess Daniel is one of them.
Personally I'd like to see him in jail or worse. If he does show up at the tables, I can only hope some people will continue to treat him as a pariah.

 
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NPapagorgio01
4 years ago

Fabulous Daniel!!! Had much respect for you over the years, but all that just went out the window by giving "The Lying Professor" a platform to stand on! I hope when all those involved show their pathetic faces at the WSOP every player that was denied their bankrolls for a long time shares with him and them how much of a hardship it was! I know I will be first in line! What a lying crook and thief!

 
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DonnieSkuza
4 years ago

Thank you Daniel and Lederer.

 
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undisputed23
4 years ago

Mike Ross your a nobody and no one literally no one cares what u think.

 
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AceupmySlv
4 years ago

Pot......meet kettle.

 
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michaeRoss
4 years ago

undisputed23, I respectfully expressed myself in a public forum; I think that's why these blogs have a comments section. I don't claim to be anybody special. It's indeed puzzling why you specifically selected my comment for an aggressive personal remark about me, have we met personally, have I ever offended you?

 
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michaeRoss
4 years ago

undisputed23, how are my remarks any different than those of all the other people who commented, what did I specifically write which caused you such anger? I'll be in Vegas from June 1- June 30 and would be pleased to meet, buy you a drink, and to try resolve any personal issues you might have with me.

 
 

crsseyed
4 years ago

Daniel I have a lot of respect for you. I will not weigh in on the substance of Howard's apology, but you have made a big mistake being the person to release this statement under your blog.

You say "Ultimately, I think the poker community will want to read this message and the vehicle is less important than the message itself." Well of course this is true, if Howard is releasing an apology we all want to see what's in it. But that is no argument for you to be the one to release it. In fact I can't think of any argument for you being the one to release it. I'm sorry, your "I’m simply the messenger......" statement just doesn't hold up. This apology from Howard carries enough impact to the poker community that it doesn't need a messenger at all. You should have just let it be released by Howard.

Whether true or not (I'm not implying it's true)you releasing this rings as an endorsement of Howard and acceptance of him back into the poker community. You releasing this for him gives the appearance of a concerted effort between the 2 of you to further some future agenda.

I'm sorry, this just looks bad. This apology would have carried just as much weight and your comments about it would have just as much impact if you would have let him release it on his own and you commented afterwards in your blog.

Peace.

 
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CrazyBenny
4 years ago

What a piece of CRAP you are! How much did you steal and not get caught! How much did he pay you?

 
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40poker
4 years ago

I was watching classic ESPN videos last night, and came across old WSOP events. I wondered why 2010 was the last event they ever broadcasted. Then I remembered Full Tilt was one of the major advertisers and most of the "pros" had their hats and shirts there all the time... Ha. Hard to believe Full Tilt brought down the WSOP's reputation with them I guess and ESPN quickly cut the cord.
However I've always liked you Negreanu, and you were always fun to watch play. Cheers.

 
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vortexx
over 3 years ago

I've wondered why Daniel didn't blog much any more. With this vitriol, no wonder he doesn't. Truly, no good deed goes unpunished.

 
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TheWize1
over 2 years ago

Good point from vortexx

 
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