With a Ph.D. in computer science, Chris Ferguson is not your ordinary poker player. He’s a real genius when it comes to playing the game, something which has earned him millions.
Chris Ferguson has also won six WSOP bracelets, as well as three World Series of Poker Circuit rings, making him deserving of a place amongst the pantheon of poker gods.
Ferguson also made headlines when it was revealed he took part in a Ponzi scheme that robbed customers of almost half a million dollars.
An interesting character, no doubt about it. Still, the most famous thing about him is that he’s a Jesus lookalike.
With long straight hair and beard, the “Jesus of Poker” is one of the most memorable faces at the table.
Pro Poker Player, Jonas Gjelstad, rates the good and bad players on Hendon Mob Poker Databases’ All-Time Money List.
Unlike Jesus, however, he likes to wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat whilst playing. That’s been his style for ages and the reason is not simply to keep his facial expressions hidden from other players.
The reason why Ferguson started wearing a hat and glasses was to conceal his age, as he started playing poker professionally when he was in his teens.
His trademark fashion style definitely helps his game, helping him hide his “poker face” from others. Actually, Ferguson is famous for being very quiet at the table. His motionless pose gives nothing away to his opponents.
Ferguson’s peaceful and quiet poker persona certainly goes along with his nickname.
The Jesus of Poker was not born in a stable. He was born in a nice house and suburb in Los Angeles, California.
His parents weren’t carpenters, they were mathematicians. In fact, both his mother and father have earned their Ph.D.’s in mathematics. His father, Thomas, still teaches at UCLA. His subject? Game theory and theoretical probability.
This explains a lot about the roots of Chris Ferguson’s poker skills. His poker-playing style is very mathematical and he’s famous for employing the knowledge of game theory at the poker table.
Pro Poker player Jonas shares some poker stories, as well as explaining why Daniel Negreanu wouldn’t stand a chance in online poker nowadays.
Chris Ferguson himself has a Ph.D. which he earned at UCLA under legendary professor Leonard Kleinrock, whom many consider the father of the internet. He’s the guy who sent the first ARPANET (wide-area packet-switching network) message in history.
Chris Ferguson spent more than a decade at college, first as a student, then as a post-graduate. However, during his time at UCLA, he wasn’t focused on studying. At least not 100%.
At that time, his focus was on poker.
According to Chris himself, he got introduced to poker when he was 10. Then during his college days, he realised he could make money off it.
All through his 20s, Ferguson used to earn his pocket money playing live poker in tournaments across Los Angeles. When he entered his 30s, his poker career skyrocketed!
Jesus died at 33, but the Jesus of Poker entered his first World Series of Poker at the same age.
Five years later, in 2000, Chris Ferguson won his first WSOP bracelet. He played $2,500 Seven-Card Stud and walked out with over $150,000.
That was his first-ever bracelet, but he won another one at the same tournament. He won the $10,000 No-Limit Texas Hold 'em World Championship, walking away with $1.5M!
That’s still his biggest prize money at WSOPs to this day, but he did win a few more titles. He won one bracelet in 2001, followed by two bracelets at the 2003 WSOP. It took him then another 14 years to get a hold of his 6th WSOP bracelet.
In addition to bracelets, he’s won other types of poker jewelry as well, including three World Series of Poker Circuit rings.
Despite his nickname, the Jesus of Poker did some bad things in the past, most notably taking part in a Ponzi scheme.
In 2011, Chris Ferguson and three employees of Full Tilt Poker were accused of running a Ponzi scheme through which they defrauded the customers of $444M.
The case was brought before the Federal Court and after almost two years of legal battles, it was finally settled. Ferguson and the three other persons involved had to pay an undisclosed sum, which was probably measured in millions of dollars.
He did pay up, but Ferguson never admitted to doing anything wrong.
In 2018, Ferguson posted a video, which many described as apologetic. However, he never explicitly said he was to blame for anything. In fact, he still denies any wrongdoings.
One thing is certain, however, everything that happened on Poker Black Friday, as the media named this affair, has prompted a reaction from the federal government.
As a result, the world of online poker in the US is no longer unregulated. There are now strict rules which guarantee the security of the players, as well as fair play. So, if you feel like playing online poker, go for it!
Unlike many of his poker colleagues, Chris Ferguson is not too crazy about social media. In fact, he doesn’t own any accounts on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. At least not any accounts that are public.
He simply doesn’t like the media attention and never has. Still, this doesn’t mean he’s been staying under the radar of journalists covering poker. On the contrary, Ferguson is still very active inside the poker room.
Last year, he took part in more than 20 live poker tournaments in the United States and Europe. So far this year, he’s played in one tournament, which didn’t end well from his perspective.
Ferguson would’ve probably played even more tournaments in the first half of 2020 if it weren’t for the coronavirus lockdown that caused the cancellation of many poker events in the US.
Still, there’s still plenty of time for him to further increase his all-time live earnings, which are currently just shy of $9.5M.
How to go from a winning poker player to a profitable sports bettor, read here.
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