Howard Lederer Criticized Harshly By Daniel Negreanu

4 years ago
howard lederer
22 Feb

Poker Hall of Famer Daniel Negreanu let loose with some rather harsh accusations toward Howard Lederer following Black Friday when the allegations of mismanagement at Full Tilt Poker came to light.

"Scumbag" was often a term used by KidPoker to describe Lederer and fellow FTP board members Ray Bitar and Chris Ferguson. At one point, Negreanu even suggested that several whacks from a baseball bat would be deserving punishment for the transgressions committed by the trio that centered around thousands of FTP players losing millions of dollars.

Fast forward to almost four years later and we find that the large majority of FTP players have been paid. Bailed out by PokerStars, rest-of-world FTP players were reimbursed more than two years ago, while U.S. players have been paid almost $100 million to date since last February, with the rest of the outstanding funds expected in due course.

Hello Howard

In a recent blog post at Full Contact Poker, Negreanu gives his opinion on who he believes should be barred from ever again being allowed to compete at WSOP events. Lederer did not make the 'don't play' list. Negreanu stated that he "would have no problem playing the WSOP in 2015" against Lederer.

KidPoker did acknowledge that Lederer and the other FTP honchos "were all at fault" for the "gross negligence" that resulted in players being kept from their account balances. But he insisted that the problems were a result of mismanagement, and not due to a Ponzi scheme as was suggested by U.S. State's Attorney Preet Bharara.

Negreanu then stood up for Lederer, in a sense, stating that The Professor made every effort to make good on FTP player account balances.

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," KidPoker wrote. "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."

Chris Ferguson welcome too

Negreanu wasn't as kind in his feelings toward Chris Ferguson. 'Jesus' seemingly chose to stay out of sight rather than face the music. Failing to take responsibility for the FTP mess does not sit well with Negreanu.

No statement, no sight of the man (Ferguson) in almost four years since that dreaded day {Black Friday}," Negreanu stated. "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."

Though KidPoker is not enamored with the way Ferguson handled the situation, he stated that the FTP board member should also not be barred from WSOP events.

Epic Poker League fiasco

The face of PokerStars also touched upon the failed Epic Poker League that "defrauded players out of a 'guaranteed' million dollar freeroll."Jeffrey Pollack and Annie Duke were behind the league that left a number of players high and dry.

With the passage of time, Negreanu seems somewhat forgiving on that matter as well. At least with regard to barring players from WSOP participation.

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," Negreanu stated, adding that "there are plenty of poker players playing the WSOP that owe people money with no intention of ever paying."

Only two should get the ban, per Negreanu

So who should be barred from the WSOP? Of the players mentioned in the blog post, the PokerStars Team Pro and recent Poker Hall of Fame inductee counted only two - Russ Hamilton and Mansour Matloubi - that should not be allowed to sit down at WSOP tournaments.

Hamilton and Matloubi were main players in the UltimateBet scandal, accused of "using a God mode program allowing them to see their opponents hole cards online."

KidPoker pointed out that neither of the UB perpetrators were convicted in a courtroom, but stated that "the evidence is overwhelmingly one-sided that at the very least, these two men were involved in cheating players out of millions."

That cheating occurred online, of course. But live and online poker will be blended this year when the WSOP awards its first-ever online gold bracelet.

While some players have been accused of cheating others out of money, perhaps willfully or due to negligence, Negreanu draws a firm line as to who should actually be barred from competing at the WSOP.

"I've always been of the position that unless people have been found to actually cheat at poker, they should be allowed to attend," Negreanu added.

Three years and a change of heart

Perusing some of Negreanu's blog posts from the past, I found one dated February 4, 2012 in which he really let Bitar, Ferguson and Lederer have it. From Full Contact Poker three years ago -

I hope to never see any of your faces at the WSOP anymore, and I hope you live with the shame you deserve for the rest of your lives. Your own personal, private hell. You deserve all the wrath you've received from the poker world, and much more. You are scum and each of you absolutely deserves a few swift baseball bat swings to the groin area, old school Vegas style."

Does Daniel know something that others don't?

What prompted Negreanu to write his most recent blog that shows a much softer side? His opening sentence is rather telling - "WSOP 2015 is around the corner and rumor has it that we may see some faces we haven't seen there in a while."

Does KidPoker have some inside information on who might return to the WSOP this year? Might Howard Lederer take a seat in hopes of easing himself back into tournament action? We will know the answer in about three months.

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Charles is a Chicago native and long time poker player who dusted off his journalism degree and began writing about poker following the events of Black Friday in 2011. He has written for a number of leading poker websites, offering his insights and expertise on subjects ranging from online poker leg...Read more


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