The Black Friday apology ( Howard Lederer )

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The Black Friday Apology



So, if you haven’t heard yet, poker pro Howard Lederer, also known as The Professor has released a statement in regards to the day known by most poker players, as Black Friday. It wasn’t that long ago when poker was thriving. Chris Moneymaker had won the WSOP Main Event which ended up generating the poker boom. The whole world had access to poker Sites such as Poker Stars and Full Tilt Poker. Then one day, it was all gone. A lot of people were at fault, but Lederer seemed to burden a majority of the blame.

“I am writing to apologize to everyone in the poker community, especially to all the players who had money on Full Tilt Poker on April 15, 2011. When Full Tilt Poker closed in 2011, there was a shortfall in funds, a distressed sale to recover those funds, and a long delay in repaying players. Throughout this period, there was little explanation for the delay, and no apology. Players felt lied to. They trusted the site, and they trusted me, and I didn’t live up to that trust.

I take full responsibility for Full Tilt’s failure to protect player deposits leading up to Black Friday. The shortfall in player deposits should never have happened. I should have provided better oversight or made sure that responsible others provided that oversight. I was a founder in the company that launched Full Tilt, and I became the face of the company’s management in the poker community. Many of our players played on the site because they trusted me.

Even though I was no longer overseeing day to day operations, my inattention in the two years leading up to Black Friday imperiled players’ deposits. My involvement in Full Tilt from 2003-2008 put me in a unique position of trust—a trust that I disappointed by failing to ensure that Full Tilt was properly governed when I stepped away in 2008. My failure to make sure proper oversight was in place when I left resulted in the situation that began to unfold on Black Friday. Players were not able to get their money back for a minimum of a year and a half, and, for many, it has been much longer. I’ve been a poker player my entire adult life. I know the importance of having access to one’s bankroll. The lost opportunity, frustration, and anxiety many of FTP’s customers experienced in the intervening years is unacceptable. I cannot be sorry enough for what happened.

During Full Tilt’s rise, I received a lot of praise. I couldn’t see it at the time, but I let the headlines change me. In the first couple of years after Black Friday, I made lots of excuses, to my friends, my family and myself, for why I wasn’t the bad guy or big-headed or wrong. In the months immediately following the crisis, I focused a lot of energy on trying to refute allegations that were factually untrue. I convinced myself that I was a victim of circumstance and that criticism was being unfairly directed toward me instead of others. I was missing the bigger picture.

At a wedding in the fall of 2014, I was sitting with a friend, talking about Full Tilt. I was grumbling about how unfair my lot in life had become. My friend didn’t let me off the hook. I’m paraphrasing here, but he said, “Howard, it doesn’t matter whether you knew about the shortfall or what you did to help players get paid. These players feel like you lied to them. You were the face of the company in the poker community. Thousands of players played on the site because they trusted you. Many pros represented the site because they thought you were in control. And you happily accepted the accolades while falling short of their trust.”

At the time, my friend’s response felt like a slap in the face, but it is clear to me now that it was fair. An apology is not enough, but it is what I am able to offer to the poker community in the wake of a travesty that I should not have allowed to happen. I am sorry.”


Once I finished reading this article, I probably had the same emotional reaction that I’d expect most poker players to have “A little too late Howard!” or “What are his future intentions?” I did let it marinate for a few hours so I didn’t fall victim to some rash observation, but still struggled to find the silver lining. Not only did Black Friday ruin the poker market worldwide, but it also changed many lives in a negative fashion. A few major changes included, not being able to play on the best poker sites in the world, such as Pokerstars, major complications with depositing and withdrawing funds for the sites that were available for the U.S market. Not to mention damaging every poker player’s credibility for many years to come. As if it wasn’t already tough enough being a poker player within our society!

Poker is once again heading in the right direction with Pokerstars being available in States such as New Jersey with the potential of branching off into others along the way. Had The Professor been waiting for the perfect time for this long overdue apology or is this coming from a genuine place?

“The choice to accept his apology is a personal one,” says Negreanu. “For what it’s worth, I personally believe the apology to be genuine.”

Some rumors have suggested that Howard Lederer might make an appearance at the 2016 World Series of Poker, but I’m not sure if the poker world will be overly enthusiastic about seeing him sitting at the tables, knowing that at the end of the day, he never had to deal with the consequences of being the trustworthy spokesman who shattered the poker world.  

From my own experience, I’ve fallen victim to many of these setbacks and always find myself contemplating a move outside of the United States. Wagering the importance of poker versus family is one that many have come across and in my case, I felt family always comes first. Hopefully, another poker boom is right around the corner and the United States government finally comes to their senses with the understanding that poker is a game of skill, not luck! Until then, I’ll just have to sit back and watch other players on Twitch play on the greatest poker site in the world!





"Daniel - Poker Journal." Full Contact Poker : Your Online Poker Community. 19 May 2016. Web. 31 May 2016.

"Five Years after Black Friday, Howard Lederer Apologizes to Full Tilt Players." Calvin Ayre News. Calvin Ayre Foundation., 20 May 2016. Web. 31 May 2016.

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