Chris Ferguson

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This article is about the poker player. For the astronaut, see Christopher Ferguson.
Chris Ferguson
Chris Ferguson 2.jpg
Nickname(s) Jesus
Residence Pacific Palisades, California, U.S.
Born Christopher Philip Ferguson
(1963-04-11) April 11, 1963 (age 53)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
World Series of Poker
Bracelet(s) 5
Money finish(es) 63 [1]
Highest ITM
Main Event finish
Winner, 2000
World Poker Tour
Title(s) None
Final table(s) 2
Money finish(es) 11
European Poker Tour
Money finish(es) 1
Information accurate as of  January 24, 2014.

Christopher Philip "Chris" Ferguson (born April 11, 1963) is an American 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.[2]

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.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Ferguson was born in Los Angeles, California.[4] Both Ferguson's parents have doctoral degrees in mathematics and his father, Thomas Ferguson, teaches game theory and theoretical probability at UCLA.[5]

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.[6] His Ph.D. advisor was Leonard Kleinrock.[7]


Ferguson began playing poker at the age 10. In college, he honed his skill on IRC poker playing online 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 heads-up 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.[8]

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,[9] a number that greatly exceeded his 2007 WSOP cash total of $84,562.[10] As of 2010, his total live tournament winnings exceed $8,000,000.[11] 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.[12]

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.[citation needed] 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.[13]

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, to point towards a table image that does not display outright the fact that he was a college student.[14]

His style is highly mathematical, using a strong knowledge of game theory and developing computer simulations to improve his understanding of the game.[8]

Ferguson is nicknamed "Jesus" because of his trademark long brown hair and beard.[15]

World Series of Poker bracelets[edit]

Year Tournament Prize (US$)
2000 $2,500 Seven Card Stud $151,000 [16]
2000 $10,000 No Limit Texas Hold 'em World Championship $1,500,000 [17]
2001 $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo Split Eight or Better $164,735 [18]
2003 $2,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Split Eight or Better $123,680 [19]
2003 $2,000 1/2 Limit Hold'em – 1/2 Seven Card Stud $66,220 [20]

In addition to these bracelets, Ferguson was the first player to have won three World Series of Poker Circuit rings.[21]

Full Tilt Poker scandal[edit]

On September 20, 2011, the United States Department of Justice amended an existing civil complaint against Full Tilt Poker, an online poker company of which Chris Ferguson was a director. The amended complaint alleged that Chris Ferguson, Howard Lederer and Rafe Furst "lined their own pockets with funds picked from the pockets of their most loyal customers while blithely lying to both players and the public alike about the safety and security of the money deposited.”[22][23] A lawyer for Ferguson denied the allegations, suggesting that the issues may have been the result of mismanagement not malice.[24][25] The case was dismissed February 19, 2013 yielding insofar that money be paid out by Ferguson and limitations placed on his website and the legality of online poker.

Personal life[edit]

His interests include his presidency of a swing dancing club at UCLA, as well as his ability to throw playing cards fast enough to cut through bananas, carrots, and even melons.[26] His card throwing ability was showcased on some a side cutaway on the ESPN broadcast of the World Series of Poker.


  1. ^ "Chris Ferguson player ID". Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
  2. ^ "2008 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship". Bluff Magazine. Retrieved December 12, 2009. 
  3. ^ Berzon, Alexandra (September 21, 2011). "U.S. Alleges Full Tilt Poker Was Ponzi Scheme". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 20, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Chris Ferguson". Retrieved December 12, 2009. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Brooks, Michael (May 2007). "Time enough for countin'". NewScientist. 194 (2604): 52–53. 
  7. ^ "PhD students supervised". Leonard Kleinrock. Retrieved 2009-07-24. 
  8. ^ a b What Would Jesus Bet? Alec Wilkinson, The Sporting Scene, The New Yorker, March 30, 2009
  9. ^ 2008 World Series of Poker Player of the Year Standings[permanent dead link],
  10. ^ 2007 World Series of Poker Player of the Year Standings[permanent dead link],
  11. ^ "Hendon Mob tournament results: Chris Ferguson". Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
  12. ^ World Series of Poker Earnings[permanent dead link],
  13. ^ "Chris Ferguson Challenge". 2006-11-26. Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
  14. ^ "Chris Ferguson interview". 
  15. ^ ""Jesus" origin". 
  16. ^ "2000 $2,500 Seven card Stud". Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
  17. ^ "$10,000 No Limit Hold'em World Championship". Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
  18. ^ "$1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo". Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
  19. ^ "$2,000 Omaha Hi-Lo". Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
  20. ^ "$2,000 1/2 Limit Hold'em, 1/2 Seven Card Stud". Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
  21. ^ "Chris is first to three Circuit wins". 
  22. ^ Berzon, Alexandra (September 20, 2011). "U.S. Alleges Full Tilt Poker Was Ponzi Scheme". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 20, 2011. 
  23. ^ United States of America (September 20, 2011), VERIFIED FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT 11 Civ. 2564 (PDF), UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTSOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK, retrieved 2011-09-26 
  24. ^ Greg Howard (September 22, 2011). "Full Tilt Poker Denies it's a Ponzi Scheme". The Slatest. Retrieved 2011-09-26. 
  25. ^ Berzon, Alexandra (September 22, 2011). "Poker Site Fires Back at U.S.". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 26, 2011. 
  26. ^ [1]