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Chris Ferguson

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Christopher Philip Ferguson (born on April 11, 1963) is an American professional poker player.

He has won five World Series of Poker events, including the 2000 WSOP Main Event, and the 2008 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship.

On September 20, 2011, the U.S. Justice Department filed a motion to amend a civil complaint, complaining that Ferguson and three other directors of the poker website Full Tilt Poker were running a Ponzi scheme that paid out $444 million of customer money to themselves and the firm’s owners.

Early life and education

Ferguson was born in Los Angeles, California. Both Ferguson’s parents have doctoral degrees in mathematics and his father, Thomas Ferguson, teaches game theory and theoretical probability at UCLA.

Ferguson attended UCLA where he earned a Ph.D. in computer science (focusing on virtual network algorithms) in 1999 after five years as an undergraduate and 13 years as a graduate student. His Ph.D. advisor was Leonard Kleinrock.

Poker

Ferguson began playing poker at the age 10. In college he honed his skill on IRC playing poker for play money in chat rooms. In 1994, he began playing in tournaments in California and in 1995, he entered his first World Series of Poker. Ferguson beat T. J. Cloutier at the main event of the 2000 WSOP to win the $1.5 million prize. In 2004, he entered the WSOP main event, earning $120,000 for his 26th place finish (out of 2,576 players). Also in 2004, Ferguson helped launch the online poker site Full Tilt Poker.

Ferguson finished runner-up to Phil Hellmuth in the 2005 National Heads-Up Poker Championship. He made the finals again in 2006, but again finished second, this time to Ted Forrest. In 2008 he made the finals for the third time, this time defeating Andy Bloch and winning the title. At one time he had the most event wins, but he is now second to Huck Seed.

In 2008, Ferguson cashed for US$677,905 at the WSOP, a number that greatly exceeded his 2007 WSOP cash total of $84,562. As of 2010, his total live tournament winnings exceed $8,000,000. His 63 WSOP cashes account for $4,051,104 of those winnings and put him third for most cashes at the WSOP, behind Phil Hellmuth and Men Nguyen.

He claims to have turned $1 into more than $20,000 playing online poker over six months as a personal challenge. He talked about this as a guest on Poker Night Live. Similarly, to show that it could be done, he turned $0 into $10,000 on Full Tilt by first winning freeroll tournaments. Despite achieving his goal, Ferguson has continued the challenge and was at one point over $20,000. He has developed an algorithm for deal making for players who reach the final table in Full Tilt Poker’s online tournaments.

He is a relatively quiet player who often adopts a characteristic motionless pose to avoid providing information to his opponents. He adopted his trademark wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses consciously, trying to disguise the fact that he was a college student.

His style is highly mathematical, using a strong knowledge of game theory and developing computer simulations to improve his understanding of the game.

Ferguson is nicknamed “Jesus” because of his trademark long brown hair and beard.

World Series of Poker bracelets

Year Tournament Prize (US$)
2000 $2,500 Seven Card Stud $151,000
2000 $10,000 No Limit Texas Hold ’em World Championship $1,500,000
2001 $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo Split Eight or Better $164,735
2003 $2,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Split Eight or Better $123,680
2003 $2,000 1/2 Limit Hold’em – 1/2 Seven Card Stud $66,220

In addition to these bracelets, Ferguson is the only player to have won three World Series of Poker circuit events.