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Howard Lederer Follows Chris Ferguson, Makes Return To World Series Of Poker

'The Professor' Enters $10K Deuce-to-Seven Single Draw


Two-time World Series Series of Poker bracelet winner Howard Lederer has made his return to the annual summer festival. Lederer had been absent at the Series since his former company Full Tilt Poker found itself in the crosshairs of the federal government in early 2011.

Lederer, 51, entered event no. 16, the $10,000 Deuce-to-Seven Single Draw Championship, on Saturday. His last recorded live cash was at the Aussie Millions in January 2011.

His return to action came just days after Chris Ferguson, who was also an owner of Full Tilt Poker when it went insolvent while holding on to hundreds of millions worth of player deposits, made his surprise return to the WSOP.

Lederer first returned to the Las Vegas cash game scene in 2012, while Ferguson, a five-time bracelet winner, hasn’t been spotted playing poker at all in the years since the indictments against some of the world’s top poker sites facilitating games for Americans.

Last month, Lederer issued a written apology of sorts, which generated speculation that he would be attending this summer’s WSOP. Unlike Lederer, Ferguson has never commented on the matter publicly, and for that he has drawn even more criticism.

Howard LedererFerguson’s returned was met with some vitriol from the poker community. Former WSOP champion Greg Merson on Twitter told everyone to slow roll Ferguson “as many times as possible this summer.” Poker Hall of Famer Daniel Negreanu said Ferguson showing up at the Rio Convention Center “feels like a giant slap in the face.” Another poker player posted a video to Twitter of him confronting Ferguson while the 2000 main event champion was playing in a tournament.

The 53-year-old Ferguson had two cashes through Sunday, both top-20 finishes. His 13th place in the $565 buy-in pot-limit Omaha for nearly $10,000 came from a starting field of 2,483.

It appears Ferguson has little to no rust on his tournament game.

Rafe Furst, a third bracelet winner formerly behind the Full Tilt site, hasn’t been seen at the WSOP over the past five summers. All three poker players settled their respective civil cases with the government without admitting to wrongdoing. Each man paid a fine and forfeited undisclosed amounts of money to the federal government.

Ray Bitar, the former CEO of Full Tilt, was the only one to be charged criminally, and he pleaded guilty to violating the UIGEA and conspiring to commit bank and wire fraud. He was able to avoid prison because he needed a heart transplant. Earlier this year, there were reports that Bitar had recently married.

The federal government said that $159 million was stolen from Americans by Full Tilt Poker. As of this past spring, roughly $112 million had been repaid to victims.

The Full Tilt Poker platform was acquired by one-time rival PokerStars in a 2012 settlement that also gave the Department of Justice enough money to repay players. Amaya Gaming, PokerStars’ parent company, decided to retire the poker platform last month in a business move. The online poker site was still profitable, Amaya said.