Marty Derbyshire chris ferguson

Chris Ferguson captured the 2017 World Series of Poker Player of the Year honors after a successful trip to the Czech Republic and WSOP Europe earlier this month.

Ferguson, the co-founder and former board member of Full Tilt Poker, has still yet to speak publicly regarding his involvement in the online poker scandal that forced the industry’s biggest operators out of the US after they were indicted on various illegal gambling and money laundering charges in 2011.

Following the indictments, it was discovered Full Tilt failed to segregate operating funds from player funds, and the US Department of Justice deemed the operation a Ponzi scheme. Full Tilt left thousands of US online poker players out of millions of dollars. However, rival site PokerStars soon stepped in to buy Full Tilt and worked out a plan with the DOJ to pay players back.

The case has since been dropped and most of the money owed to US players has been paid back by PokerStars.

Returning to the WSOP after a five-year absence

Ferguson stayed away from the live poker scene for five years following the indictments, returning to the 2016 WSOP alongside fellow Full Tilt board member and co-founder Howard Lederer. Lederer issued a lengthy apology to the poker community for his involvement in the mismanagement of the site. However, Ferguson refused to speak with the media or apologize to players in any way.

Ferguson cashed in 10 events in 2016, including three top-20 finishes and one final table, where he was booed loudly by a raucous crowd of spectators.

This summer, Ferguson was back at the WSOP again, where he notched a record 17 WSOP cashes in Las Vegas. This included two final table appearances. As a result, he led the WSOP Player of the Year race headed into the 11-bracelet 2017 WSOP Europe schedule at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic.

This year, the leader of the WSOP POY race at the end of the summer series received free entry into the WSOP Europe Main Event. The WSOP Europe series ran from from Oct. 19 to Nov. 10.

Ferguson all but locked up POY honors winning the 2017 WSOP Europe €1,650 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better event. The event drew just 92 entries. John Racener, the 2017 WSOP $10,000 Dealers Choice 6-Handed Championship winner, finished 10th.

Racener still maintained a shot at catching Ferguson in the POY race going into the WSOPE Main Event. But when he failed to go deep, the title went to Ferguson.

Ultimately, Ferguson earned the POY title by booking six more cashes at WSOP Europe. This included his sixth career WSOP bracelet win.

Free entry into the 2018 WSOP Main Event

Ferguson will now receive free entry into the 2018 WSOP Main Event back in Las Vegas. His likeness will also be placed on a banner to be displayed in the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino.

Ferguson told WSOP media staff his five-year absence absence from poker is part of what’s helping him succeed today. He did not address the reason he stayed away so long,

“I just cleared my mind,” he said. “For five years I hadn’t really thought about poker. I didn’t really miss poker. It had been a big part of my life. I had actually been planning to take a break from poker, and it turned out to be bigger than I expected. I’ve always found that when I take a break from something … you come back to it with a fresh perspective, and often you’ll do better.”

Ferguson is expected to speak at the 2018 WSOP when his 2017 POY banner is unveiled.

There is no word on whether he will address his involvement with Full Tilt or explain his five-year absence further.

Ferguson, 54, was born in Los Angeles and now resides in Pacific Palisades. He attended UCLA, where he earned a Ph.D. in computer science. Ferguson was reportedly one of the developers behind Full Tilt’s online poker software. He is also the 2000 WSOP Main Event champion.

Image credit: Featureflash Photo Agency /

Marty Derbyshire
Marty Derbyshire - Martin Derbyshire is a veteran of the world of poker and gambling, having worked as a reporter, producer, and editor in the industry for more than a decade. He has traveled the globe interviewing high-profile personalities and contributes to a number of publications, including,, and