They may not be close buddies any longer, but it’s clear that Full Tilt Poker pro Gus Hansen still has some fondness for Howard Lederer, even if it seems puzzlingly misplaced at this late date.
Hansen, the “Great Dane” of poker, ignited a mini-storm of controversy this week by typing in the following series of Tweets on his @RealGusHansen Twitter feed:
Never underestimate stupid people in large groups – explanation will follow!
If the ‘We hate Howard Lederer’ group would hate on banks and insurance companies, I would have some sympathy- as it is- get a fu**ing grip!
Do people hate Howard Lederer because of evidence of foul play or because Daniel Negreanu and Jason Mercier tells everybody to hate him?
Mouths dropped en masse across the pokersphere, as few people could comprehend Hansen being stupid and silly enough to say such things. After all, Hansen was among those who received millions in player-owner distributions for being a part of the famed Team Full Tilt.
Since recent evidence has shown that Lederer was less than honest in his recollections of Full Tilt happenings both before and after Black Friday, Hansen should clearly know by now that a good chunk of what he was paid — from late 2010 until Black Friday — came during a period when Howard Lederer knew that Full Tilt Poker was underwater, with hundreds of millions in unpaid debt and uncollected deposits.
Meaning, a lot of that money Hansen was paid was dirty. It’s also clear that despite owning slightly less then half of the company between them, board members Lederer, Ray Bitar and Chris Ferguson kept tight control over FTP’s affairs, using these disbursements and unpaid, unsecured “loans” to keep the many broke degens of Team Full Tilt in line. Erick Lindgren and Mike Matusow are the two most named in that regard, but Hansen’s wild, loose style meant massive upswings and downswings, and it was enabled in part by Full Tilt funding the show.
Hansen escaped Full Tilt’s collapse with his image relatively intact, but it appears he was too stupid to know better and keep his yap shut. Still, despite widespread disgust at his comments, there have been a few supporters as well, including Shane “Shaniac” Schleger and John Duthie, both well connected to the same PokerStars machine that now owns Full Tilt… and has rehired Hansen as a spokesman.
With respect for Schleger’s considerable intelligence and his own general integrity, his coming to Hansen’s defense and decrying the “mob mentality” at work is also misplaced. It’s okay to discuss these things in an absolutist, educational, philosophical vacuum, but it’s ridiculous to invoke such arguments when, as in Hansen’s case, there can’t even be the slightest pretense of impartiality in discussing the Lederer situation.
So Hansen wants to defend the guy that helped make him and a few others rich, but defrauded many, many other players in the process? Sorry, that’s not legit. Poker players and followers are rightly disgusted at a “famous” pro, meaning Hansen, who may still have a friend’s back but places that above greater social and ethical responsibilities.
The Tweet regarding Negreanu and Mercier is also curious, even if it’s gotten less love since it appeared. Since Negreanu and Mercier are also prominent, popular members of the Stars machine, one has to wonder if the whole Lederer/Full Tilt situation isn’t at the core of some bitter in-fighting going on behind the scenes at PokerStars.
Including Shaniac and Duthie, all five of these folks who have stuck their necks out and voiced opinions of one form or another on Lederer may be continuing to jostle over how to treat that situation moving forward, which in turn may affect how Full Tilt is marketed as a brand.
One side may want to forgive and forget, while the other side, including Negreanu and Mercier, would rather see Lederer ostracized from poker and ultimately held fully responsible for what he did at Full Tilt.