Be sure to check out our Lessons From Chris Ferguson Section
for poker strategy straight from this Full Tilt Poker Pro.
Chris Ferguson is a god in the poker world, perhaps that is why they call him Jesus. One of his many accomplishments is winning the main event of the 2000 WSOP.
Having long brown hair, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson looks a lot like the paintings we see of Jesus Christ. However, Chris is not a carpenter, he is a mathematician and a card player. Ferguson is famous for being able to adjust his game to best suit his opponent. He knows game theory like the back of his hand(his dad teaches it at UCLA) and he is always a dangerous opponent.
Fortunately for the rest of us, Chris Ferguson has a tips section on his website. He repeats what many successful holdem players preach, if you're first in the pot then don't limp:
Never limp in. PUMP IT or DUMP IT!
Some argue that there are times when limping is the correct play but Chris makes his feelings known pretty clearly.
One of the most important rules of Hold'Em -- Limit or No Limit -- is to never, ever call as the first player to enter a pot before the flop. Either pump up the pot with a raise, or dump your cards in the muck. If your hand isn't strong enough for a raise, it's too weak for a call. This tactic makes it more difficult for your opponents to read your hand, and it makes it impossible for the big blind to ever see a flop for free when you're in the hand.
Linda Johnson from CardPlayer Magazine has a great interview with Chris Jesus Ferguson in the Volume 16, No. 18 issue. Some highlights of the interview are below:
Linda Johnson: I've heard there is a great deal of mathematical ability in your family. Tell me a little about your background.
It is good to know that Chris likes it when folks approach him. This is because some celebrities get annoyed by the constant influx of fans. Don't be afraid to say hello to Chris if you recognize him at the tables.
Chris Ferguson: My dad teaches game theory at UCLA, and each of my parents has a Ph.D. in mathematics. I have a Ph.D. in computer science from UCLA. From 1992 to 1996, I worked for the California State Lottery analyzing and designing new games, and continue to do consulting work in the area of computer science, generally helping people develop, analyze, and solve different gambling games.
Linda Johnson: How did you get started playing poker?
Chris Ferguson: I've played since before I can remember. I am self-taught, and played for money as far back as the fourth grade. In high school, I played a lot of poker while many of my friends chased girls. I improved my skills by playing online back in the early 1990s on IRC, way before any of the current real-money sites existed. That is where I really learned to play poker, and in particular, no-limit hold'em. I became serious about poker around 1994 and started playing in the World Series.
Linda Johnson: How many World Series bracelets do you have?
Chris Ferguson: Three. I won the Omaha eight-or-better event in 2001, the seven-card stud event in 2000, and the world championship in 2000. (Editor's note: After this interview was conducted, Chris won two more gold bracelets at the 2003 World Series of Poker.)
Linda Johnson: How did winning the world championship change your life?
Chris Ferguson: Poker hasn't really changed me too much, but I do like it when people come up to me, introduce themselves, and say hello. I love what limited attention it has brought me, and love doing interviews for mainstream publications.
Linda Johnson: How many tournaments do you average playing each year?
Chris Ferguson: I would estimate it at 80 to 100, although I'm really cutting back at the moment. I play all forms of tournament poker, but I don't play any tournaments with buy-ins lower than $300. I rarely play live poker because I really love the excitement of tournament play, and there are so many tournaments all year-round that I don't have time to play live. I like tournaments because players bring their best games to tournaments, and the rising limits hold my interest and provide a challenge. There is a lot of camaraderie amongst most of the tournament regulars. I used to play satellites, but don't seem to have the time to do so these days.
Linda Johnson: Whom do you respect most as tournament players?
Chris Ferguson: There are lots of young players who are very strong. My list would have to include Phil Ivey, John Juanda, Howard Lederer, and Erik Seidel. Not only are these players at the top of the poker world, they all help promote poker and always carry themselves with dignity and class.
Linda Johnson: How do you think the poker industry could be improved?
Chris Ferguson: I think the rules should be standardized, but this is very hard to do. The Tournament Directors Association is a good start. I think we're on the verge of seeing the popularity of poker explode with the televised events of the World Poker Tour. I have seen some of the footage and I can tell you that these shows will be very exciting. The image of poker needs upgrading and the World Poker Tour will show poker players as being intelligent and skillful, and will, I hope, make the superstars of poker known to the outside world.
Linda Johnson: Speaking of image, how do you describe yourself in life and at the poker table?
Chris Ferguson: I'm actually pretty shy. Because of this, I rarely go up and talk to new people, but I love it when they approach me. This has helped me overcome my shyness, and I'm always willing to talk to new people. At the poker table, I am capable of changing gears and varying my style to fit the situation.
Full Tilt has a tremendous amount of information about Chris Ferguson. Here is what they have to say:
In 1999, Chris Ferguson had spent exactly half his life at UCLA. After 5 years as an undergrad and another 13 as a graduate student, UCLA awarded him a Ph.D. in Computer Science and told him it was time to leave the nest of academia. He went reluctantly.
We're lucky that so many cool players like Chris Ferguson have chosen to represent Full Tilt. Full Tilt has come a long way since we first reviewed them years ago. We improve our games by facing good competition and it doesn't get any better than Chris Ferguson. It is a tremendous opportunity for players to see him at Full Tilt on a low stakes tables. When it comes to higher stakes the lessons might be too expensive but it is a great opportunity to sit on the rail and observe. Fortunately for us, pros like Chris Ferguson mix it up at various tables on Full Tilt so we don't necessarily have to be on the highest possible stakes in order to see them.
He didn't wander very far. A year later and only 300 miles away, it was new school meets old school as Chris defeated TJ Cloutier to win the main event in the 2000 World Series of Poker. It marked the beginning of a professional career, with a record unmatched by any player of the last decade.
Chris can't remember a time when he wasn't playing cards. A stinging loss in the 4th grade (his trip queens lost to a heart flush, costing him his last $.35) made Chris resolved never to go broke again. He regularly beat his high school home game, and always returned from weekend jaunts to Las Vegas with a tidy profit. In college, he discovered the world of online poker.
Long before any of today's popular poker sites existed, Chris started playing over the Internet on an IRC channel, and quickly became its highest ranked tournament player. In 1994, recognizing that his knowledge of game theory was a powerful weapon, he started playing in the small tournaments in and around LA. A year later, Chris played in his first World Series of Poker event. Despite playing relatively few tournaments in those first five years, he made 7 final tables and had 12 money finishes, peaking at fourth place.
In the new millennia, he made his mark.
Chris won the Championship Event in 2000, now famously chronicled in James McManus' Positively Fifth Street. It was his second bracelet that year, following his win in the 7-Card Stud Event. A well-rounded player, he won his next bracelet in the 2001 Omaha Hi/Lo Split event, followed by two more wins in 2003.
Since he started playing the World Series, he has won more bracelets (5), made more final tables (25), and had more money finishes (42) than any other player. With his recent World Series of Poker Circuit win and another final table finish, Chris has earned more than $3,800,000 playing poker in the WSOP and WSOP circuit alone. It's unlikely that he'll be broke again any time soon.
Chris recently returned to the world of online poker, this time applying his own ideas to improve Internet poker. He put together a team of players and programmers to design the software for FullTiltPoker.com, and now focuses on ensuring that Full Tilt Poker's customers have the best software and the best games in the industry.
His talent with playing cards doesn't stop at the poker table. He is well known for his ability to cut a carrot in half by throwing a regular playing card from a distance of 10 feet. When he's not slicing vegetables, you can probably find Chris dancing West Coast Swing in a local club. Whether it's cutting up a fruit salad or cutting a rug, he is constantly challenging himself to learn something new. Because although UCLA may have told him it was time to go, Chris has never really left school.
Common misspellings for Chris Ferguson:
Learn more about Chris Ferguson at Full Tilt Poker.
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