Professional poker player Doyle Brunson says that the owners of Full Tilt Poker (FTP) had no idea what was happening before the events of Black Friday or April 15, 2011, the day on which the federal government cracked down on online poker giants Absolute Poker, PokerStars.com, and FTP. According to Brunson, the chief shareholders of FTP did not even know about its financial difficulties when it collapsed.
Brunson apparently reached this conclusion after discussing FTP with Howard Lederer, one of the four people in FTP’s board of directors, which the US Department of Justice (DoJ) is currently investigating. He says that Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer knew absolutely nothing about the financial mess the online poker company was in.
Brunson has published a letter, around six and a half pages long, in the form of a blog on his website. According to this write-up, Ray Bitar, the chief executive officer of FTP, was busy sorting out FTP’s financial mess when the DoJ cracked down on the site and seized its domain name.
Brunson says, “The bottom line was they [Lederer and Ferguson] were poker players, not corporate executives. I can tell you for sure that poker players including myself are terrible business men. Why didn’t they step in and hire a top professional person to supervise and direct business? No one has ever answered that to my knowledge. The site under Bitar’s directions started paying the stockholders huge dividends as the business grew. If you were a stockholder, would you question the management of a company that sends you hundreds of thousands of dollars each month? I know I wouldn’t, I’d think life’s good!”
Stating that he is neither defending anyone nor wishing to persecute anybody, he said that it is indeed difficult to believe that the directors of a company and its major shareholders failed to investigate its financial affairs. Noting that Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, and Ray Bitar are currently taking the heat, he said that the online poker gaming community believes that Lederer was actively involved in the company’s operation while in fact he had retired 2 – 3 years ago.
Stating that he has been in touch with Howard Lederer for the past few months, Brunson says that he can believe Lederer when he looks him in the eye and claims that he had no idea about the financial mess FTP was in simply because he has known, respected, and trusted Lederer for several years.