Chris Ferguson Wins 2017 WSOP Player of the Year Title

Chris Ferguson Player of the Year - 2017 WSOP

Chris Ferguson also won the WSOP Main Event in 2000.

Chris Ferguson is the official winner of the 2017 World Series of Poker Player of the Year award. The victory came after months where Ferguson, a controversial figure in the poker world, was on the brink of winning.

At the 2017 World Series of Poker, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson placed in the money in 17 events. In a WSOP Europe event in October, Ferguson won his 6th official WSOP bracelet. The former WSOP Main Event champion’s clinching moment had nothing to do with his play, though.

When WSOP POY second place competitor John Racener was eliminated from the final WSOP-eligible event this week, making it impossible for anyone to catch Chris Ferguson in the points race. Thus, the World Series of Poker’s organizers announced that Ferguson had won the Player of the Year award.

WSOP Player of the Year Award

That means Chris Ferguson’s likeness will go on a large banner at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino before next year’s WSOP. The banner contains the faces of all previous Player of the Year and Main Event winners. The victory also means that Ferguson will receive a free entry into the WSOP Main Event, which is worth $10,000.

Chris Ferguson finished with 1st place in the World Series of Poker: Europe’s seventh event, the Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better contest at King’s Casino in the Czech Republic. Ferguson won €39,289 in prize money, but the event put him that much closer to the POY award. John Racener had a good chance to surpass Ferguson at the WSOPE Main Event, but he was eliminated on the second day of that event.

14th WSOP Player of the Year

This is the 14th year that the WSOP Player of the Year Award has been awarded. Daniel Negreanu won the first POY Award in 2004, and later became the only player to win the award twice (2013). Other prominent winners had been Allen Cunningham (2005), Jeff Lisandro (2009), Greg Merson (2012), and Jason Mercier (2016).

Chris Ferguson becomes the second player to have won a WSOP Main Event and a WSOP Player of the Year title, alongside Greg Merson. Since Merson won his Main Event and POY title in the same year, Jesus Ferguson becomes the first player to win the Main Event and POY title in separate years — a feat many would consider to be more impressive, or at least harder to achieve. Chris Ferguson won the WSOP Main Event in 2000, before the Poker Boom.

FullTilt Poker Scandal

Despite that fact, Chris Ferugson was one of the most recognizable players during the Poker Boom years (2003-2006). Along with Howard Lederer and several other prominent players, Ferguson was one of the co-founders of FullTilt Poker. His role in the rise and fall of FullTilt Poker is the reason Chris Ferguson is so controversial.

When the Black Friday indictments were handed down and poker site domains were seized by the US Department of Justice, it became known that FullTilt Poker did not segregate player funds from operating funds. That meant FTP players could not be paid, which became a huge scandal in the poker world.

Chris Ferguson: Uninvited Guest

Eventually, PokerStars bought FullTilt Poker and paid FTP customers their account holdings. That did not absolve player-executives like Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer of their poker sins, as players felt the FTP executives were unapologetic and unremorseful for how the situation transpired. Whatever the truth, when Chris Ferguson appears at a live poker event, certain online gambling media outlets and certain poker players treats him like an uninvited guest.

Whether that makes winning money in 17 WSOP events or collecting the WSOP Player of the Year title more impressive is someone else’s concern. The fact is, poker is a meritocracy. Chris Ferguson had the best 2017 season in the collective World Series of Poker events. From that perspective, he deserves to be named the Player of the Year.