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Howard Lederer Apologizes For His Role In Full Tilt Poker Fiasco

Former FTP Board Member Releases Statment Admitting Failure In The Wake of Site's Final Closure This Week

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Howard LedererFull Tilt Poker’s player pool was fully integrated into PokerStars on May 17 and the poker platform was officially retired. In the wake of the final closure of what was once one of the largest online poker sites in the world Howard Lederer, a former board member of the now defunct business, has opted to put out a statement through Daniel Negreanu’s poker blog.

Lederer has been a persona non grata in the poker world after the fiasco that followed the U.S. Department of Justice’s actions on April 15, 2011. Players with money in accounts on Full Tilt Poker looked as if they might not ever retrieve their funds after poker’s Black Friday as a result of the site’s failure to segregate player funds from the money used to operate the business. Players only received any form of relief when PokerStars announced that they would buy the company and pay out player’s balances.

Negreanu posted Lederer’s statement and also gave his own commentary, saying it is, “the kind of apology people would have liked to read five years ago.” Lederer’s full statement can be found below. For more of Negreanu’s thoughts on it, check out his blog post which can be found here.
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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.
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Following Black Friday Lederer settled with the U.S. Department of Justice. In exchange for the opportunity to admit to no wrongdoing in the civil complaint that stemmed from Full Tilt’s failures Lederer forfeited at least $2.5 million in cash and assets, including several pieces of real estate property and vehicles. He also handed over the contents of a bank account, although the settlement didn’t specify the amount of the funds in that account. Lederer was paid at least $42.5 million by Full Tilt over the course of his involvement with the company, which he helped in founding.

With those forfeitures in mind and this apology made, has Lederer even begun to mend the bridges burned by the Full Tilt fiasco and his failure to take responsibility for the site’s mismanagement?

“The choice to accept his apology is a personal one,” says Negreanu. “For what its worth, I personally believe the apology to be genuine.”

Genuine or not, Lederer likely has a long way to go before he is able to play in poker’s biggest events without facing hostility and contempt.

 
 
 
 

Comments

Barry2
almost 5 years ago

The reason there was a short fall was because the money was going in his pockets (and his friends). He is a liar, he is a bad person, he is a fraud! Apologize not accepted.

 
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jay_helfert
almost 5 years ago

A total bullshit apology, trying to downplay his role in the FTP scheme. My opinion is he knew all along exactly what was going on and did his best to enrich himself in the process. Like many other lowlifes, he only is sorry that he got caught. He had his chance years ago to resurrect his reputation by forfeiting all his ill gotten gains. His words now fall on deaf ears as they should!

 
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TandG21
almost 5 years ago

Thanks to poker stars I received the funds I had on FTP
He and his buddies should have went to jail.Must be nice to sit and play in high stakes poker and not worry about losing,after all he was playing with stolen money.Screw him

 
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mrdrevil2u
almost 5 years ago

I'm NOT sorry I was still able to keep 40 million. I'm not sorry I didn't go to jail. I'm not sorry I kept my mouth shut while I was 100% aware of what was going on. I'm also not sorry for trying to talk my way out of this mess when it hit the fan. I am sorry that everyone thinks i'm a bad guy. I am sorry that I can't play in any major event. I am also sorry that now that online poker is coming back, that I can no longer get my hand back into the cookie jar. Can you all forgive me for avoiding all repsonsibility and consequences for my actions so I can get back in the game? I'll happily tell you whatever I need to in order to make this happen. What do you say? All forgiven?

 
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Muddpye
almost 5 years ago

Nailed it.

 
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ginjuice
almost 5 years ago

The best and only acceptable apology is to provide a full accounting of the funds he received from Full Tilt and acknowledge if any of those funds were derived from player deposits. There is no question those funds clearly should have been held in trust and not distributed to owners (or sponsored players). And following the accounting to return to the DOJ for distribution those funds derived from those deposits. Short of proper restitution an apology like this is pure bulllshit and only salve to his conscience.

 
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Pokertalks
almost 5 years ago

They pretty much anticipated new clinets and new flow of money to keep coming in and if the

 
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Zack2
almost 5 years ago

sorry is just not going to cut it when you get paid 42 million and only gave back 2.5... where is the rest of the little less than 40 million? daniel is right. had this been 5 year ago and you had the balls to step up and apologize, theres a chance you could be playing live poker today. your not solely responsible but when your a part of screwing over that many people, no amount of apologizing is going to make up for it. guy must be really itching to play but cant with so much negativity, no chance to play his game

 
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Joe8
almost 5 years ago

A non-apology that's five years late and $42 million short. Eff him.

 
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TandG21
almost 5 years ago

How about his FTP partner Ferguson another choir boy no apology from him. He also didn't know what was happening.Give me a break

 
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rkmunro
almost 5 years ago

Really Howard? You had this epiphany in 2014 and NOW you come out when there is zero risk with the company closed and player’s funds returned! Mighty ballsy of you. Sorry dude this is wayyyy too easy. I knew F/T was in trouble a year before Black Friday. It took a friend of mine 6 weeks to get $8K he won after several BS delays and 10 emails. Please quit pretending you don't know anything. You got to where you are because of your intelligence. It makes zero sense to me that anyone in the space would not have a separate account for player’s funds and another for operating. F/T used the players fund as their huge piggy bank and turned it into a Ponzi scheme when it no longer had enough funds to cover player balances. Most go to prison for that activity. You hit the biggest 1 outer in poker history when PS saved the day and count your blessings for that and crawl back under that rock you have been hiding under for the past 5 years.

 
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DickieU
almost 5 years ago

F off and die!

 
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x19
almost 5 years ago

sorry Howard but actions and inactions will ALWAYS speak louder than words....you cant unring the bell and the poker community cant unsee what we've all clearly seen....you will never be accepted or wanted in this community ever again....theres at least 40 million reasons why, figure it out.

 
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CashinClay
almost 5 years ago

This is DJ EZ Deposit with a jam going out from Jen Larson to her main man Howard. You can stay home from the WSOP with her!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GL9JoH4Sws

 
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Tassiedevil
almost 5 years ago

How much did the FTP crime syndicate contribute to the loss of jobs and destruction of an industry let alone steal the money in players accounts? Would the Justice Dept. had been so eager to shut down online poker if FTP had been an honest broker? Probably, but I still feel FTP went a long way to give ammunition to the feds for the action they took. Thanks, Howard may you live in interesting times!

 
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taodungchi
almost 5 years ago

death to all those so call fulltilt poker pros put all face down on a ant hill
fxxxxx crooks eat shit howard u dumb fuck

 
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Jim51
over 4 years ago

"I take full responsibility for Full Tilt’s failure to protect player deposits leading up to Black Friday." Gee, Howard, taking 'full responsibility' would necessarily include consequences. In this case, full financial consequences. Did you pay the people their money?

 
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