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The Act of Forgiveness

The Act of Forgiveness 0001

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines forgive as “to give up resentment of or claim to requital for.” Resentment is a strong emotion, but because of the events that occurred April 15, 2011, countless poker players and fans don’t just resent Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson — they hate them.

A few weeks ago, when rumors began swirling about a potential deal between PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, I took to Twitter and asked this question:

Unsurprisingly, the majority of responses entailed jail time, bodily harm, or death. There were a few respondents, however, who were a little more forgiving.

In general, we are a very forgiving people, especially in regard to celebrities and athletes. We certainly chastise those who make mistakes and generate ruthless memes during their downfall, but once they get back on the horse, we’re quick to support and root them on.

Take Michael Vick for example. In 2007, he pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges because he sponsored a dog-fighting operation named Bad Newz Kennels. The photos leaked from Vick’s property depicted dogs with horrible injuries, and the tales of inhuman behavior were gruesome, but after he reentered the NFL in 2009, all was forgiven. When he was released from jail, Vick was met with a few protesters — and PETA denounced the Philadelphia Eagles when they signed him — but most people see Vick as a football player rather than a criminal because he did his time. He paid his debt to society.

Tiger Woods was never arrested for any crimes — he did receive a ticket for careless driving after crashing his SUV into a fire hydrant and a tree on Thanksgiving in 2009 — but his infidelity scandal with Rachel Uchitel and other women sent his career into a tailspin. Woods was losing sponsors left and right, and finally he addressed the world in February of 2010, saying that he was “entitled.”

“I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy the temptations around me.”

Some thought Woods’ image was destroyed forever, and he failed to win a golf tournament in 2010 and 2011. However, when he finally won the 2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational, the entire gallery exploded. And it wasn’t just the fans in attendance who were excited — the Golf Channel received a 4.8 overnight rating for the broadcast, and outrated the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament for the final hour of play.

Josh Hamilton has battled with drugs and alcohol, and even relapsed during the off-season, but Texas Rangers fans love him. Alex Rodriguez admitted to using steroids, but few people vilify him as much as Barry Bonds, who has never tested positive or admitted to cheating. Pete Rose gambled on baseball while he was a head coach, yet every year, a group of people fight for his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

We are quick to forgive — as long as you give us a reason to. In the case of athletes — as long as you continue to perform and entertain us. Unfortunately for Lederer and Ferguson, their entertainment value is low, but they hold something a little more important than that — our money. If the alleged PokerStars deal is true, and Isai Scheinberg decides to single-handedly resurrect Full Tilt Poker and pay out all of the account balances, then I believe that all will be forgiven. Lederer and Ferguson won’t be welcomed back with open arms, per se, but once the dust settles and the players are flush with their newly returned money, they’ll forget hate and resentment.

If this alleged deal falls through and the players are never repaid, then Lederer and Ferguson will be blacklisted by the poker community. Excommunicated for unspeakable crimes, the pair will be forced to live out their days without the World Series of Poker.

Whether the players get paid or not, we all know what Lederer and Ferguson are going to eventually say: “I didn’t know what was happening. I was blindsided, just like the players. It was all Ray Bitar’s fault.”

Will you believe them? Can you believe them? Since the inception of his Weekly Rant, Daniel Negreanu has been fueling the hatred for Full Tilt Poker, Lederer, Ferguson and Bitar — they are clearly the enemy, and if you support them in any way, you’ll be flamed to death by TwoPlusTwo.

That is, if the site is up and running.

Believe it or not, there’s a chance that Lederer and Ferguson had no idea what was happening leading up to Black Friday. That “chance” could be as low as 1 percent, but that’s not drawing dead, and if the players receive their money in full, that percentage will magically grow. There will be several players whose argument will be: “We got paid. Who cares about those two now?”

Personally, I don’t want to sway you either way. If you’re merciful and willing to hear Lederer's and Ferguson’s pleas for forgiveness, then you are more thoughtful than most. If you can never forgive Lederer and Ferguson for the mistakes they’ve made, and you’ll always hate them, no matter what they say, then you have that right — FTP’s mistakes were inexcusable. All I want you to do is care. No matter what happens, don’t forget about Black Friday, and don’t forget about the last 391 days. If you’re going to forgive Lederer and Ferguson, do so knowingly.

We are quick to forgive, but please, let’s not be quick to forget.


If the players are paid in full, will you forgive Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson?

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