Table Talk: ‘Tis the Season of Condemnation
The holiday season is in full swing, and everyone is throwing something into their eggnog for extra cheer. I’ll try some cognac with mine, but I have a variety of options at my little apartment-sized mini bar. Help yourself.
It’s been a rather uneventful week in poker as the holidays kick in and players begin to sit out. There are family gatherings, vacations, shopping, and a week or so of relaxing and reflecting on the year that was. There were a few bits of news, though.
One of the big announcements was another move in the works for World Series of Poker Europe. After starting in 2007 in London and moving to Cannes in 2011, another change is planned for 2013. The Casino Barriere Enghien-les-Bains in Paris will be the home of the WSOPE next year with tournaments scheduled from October 11 to 24. Though no schedule is confirmed, the press release noted there will be seven gold bracelet events in addition to a high roller tournament, and the Main Event will be a €10k buy-in affair. The casino is located about 10 miles out from Paris.
PokerStars had some announcements to make recently, including the expansion of Zoom Poker to multi-table tournaments. PokerStars also partnered with Casino Gran Madrid for a branded poker room at that location and coordinated live events with the online sector. And the site’s Team Online signed a new pro. Russian Tatiana “Mysters_Y” Barausova is a Supernova Elite player who plays large online tournaments and another addition to the growing number of PokerStars-sponsored female players.
Over in the United States, the poker community is saying “bah humbug” to Howard Lederer after a settlement was announced regarding his civil case. The civil complaint against Lederer, filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, asked for a judgment of $42.5 million, but the settlement had a much lesser figure attached.
First, Lederer was able to admit to no wrongdoing in the case, stating that he was unaware of any wrongdoing before Black Friday and that Full Tilt Poker was a legitimate business. He then agreed to forfeit the funds in several bank accounts, some property in Las Vegas, a car, and several liquidated assets. From what my non-lawyering eyes can decipher, he will be paying more than $1.25 million to the U.S. government
Yes, Lederer is able to keep his current house and some vehicles. He will not be broke. He will not be wandering up to your car on the Las Vegas Strip to ask for a dollar and a cigarette. He is more than comfortable with the assets he is able to retain.
The reaction of the poker community, overall, was full of outrage. Whether they think he should be begging on the streets or personally writing checks to every U.S. poker player who is owed money by Full Tilt Poker, the majority of people wanted a different outcome. Some wanted to see him behind bars, which serves no purpose if the government doesn’t have enough evidence upon which to convict. Clearly, the Department of Justice does not feel the man deserves jail time nor to be rendered homeless, but disillusioned poker players and fans do.
Meanwhile, there are no audible cries for Chris Ferguson to step forward and speak to the poker public, or for “Jesus” to be sent to jail. Was he just as much a part of the Full Tilt fabric as Lederer? Why is no one demanding that Jennifer Harman speak out? Is no one ambushing Andy Bloch at his Las Vegas home? Is Phil Ivey blameless in all of it?
Howard Lederer has become the fall guy for the entire Full Tilt Poker debacle. He agreed to a long – very long – interview with PokerNews to tell as much of the story as he could, but that wasn’t enough. And some in the media and the poker audience broke that interview down word by word until they felt that the lies were obvious. They focused on the questions not asked and the answers not provided. When Lederer then stepped away from the spotlight because of the harsh reaction and nearly-literal threats to burn him at the stake, he was condemned for refusing to talk further.
He was damned if he did, didn’t, or wasn’t sure.
I’m not defending Lederer. We’re not friends. I’ve never interviewed him. In fact, I believe he and his wife had a beef with me over something I wrote several years ago. However, I’m not ready to condemn him for a series of wrongdoings and crimes committed by an entire company full of people. Call me crazy (but don’t call me maybe), but it seems a tad unfair to make Lederer the target of everyone’s frustration and vitriol.
Maybe Santa will put some coal in Lederer’s stocking. But if the poker community could look at their own actions and reactions to him, they might see that they deserve coal as well.
On that note, I’m going to get back to my cognac. I’m going to just leave the eggnog in the refrigerator because I don’t see the point of screwing up a good glass of liquor. Enjoy your drinks, lighten up for the holidays, and spread some cheer. Happy Holidays!