Howard Lederer’s appearance at Daniel Negreanu’s Poker Hall of Fame (PHOF) induction ceremony earlier this week was sort of reminiscent of Maleficent’s showing at Sleeping Beauty’s christening: startling, slightly disturbing, and curious.
Negreanu and Jack McClelland were inducted into the PHOF ceremony at Binions Horseshoe on Monday night, but while they winked for the cameras and delivered their acceptance speeches, more than few nervous glances were directed towards Lederer.
The notorious pro had chosen that moment to make his first public appearance since the infamous “Lederer Files” interviews over two years ago.
As a founder and former president of Tiltware, the previous owners of Full Tilt which ran the company to the ground while owing its customers millions of dollars, Lederer’s hardly a fan favorite these days, and certainly garners no love from one of the outspoken inductees.
Negreanu, who has been engaged in a long-running feud with Lederer’s sister, Annie Duke, has been hugely critical of the actions of the Full Tilt board that lead to the Black Friday scandal, and of Lederer’s reluctance to come forward in its aftermath. It would be “justice,” Negreanu once said, if Lederer went to jail for his role in the debacle.
“In neither of the two interviews that you did did you give a legitimate reason why you thought it was important to completely shun the poker community for 18 months and just leave them hanging,” Negreanu said, following the Lederer files interviews of 2012. “There’s only two real possibilities for what’s really going on here. Either A) you’re completely lying and you know a whole lot more than you let on, or B) you really don’t know of the answers to these questions but you should.”
While Lederer has been spotted playing poker at the Bellagio from time to time, this is the first time we are aware of him attending an official poker event, and the timing may have something to do with the completion of the Full Tilt remissions payment process. Perhaps he’s hoping that sufficient time has passed and that it’s now time to forgive and forget.
Sightings of Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, meanwhile, also a FT founder and director, have been few and far between. His partner in crime, however, former Full Tilt CEO Ray Bitar, was described by former Red Pro Allen Cunningham earlier this month as almost broke and dying of a serious heart condition.
“To all the conspiracy theorists,” Cunningham told the TwoPlusTwo forums, “according to my sources, Ray Bitar is unlikely to live more than a couple years and is nearly penniless. He didn’t get away with anything. I feel like that’s not getting away with it in a karmic way, at least.”
However, despite Lederer’s surprise appearance, the day belonged to Negreanu and McClelland, who become the 47th and 48th poker people, respectively, to take their places within the Poker Hall of Fame.
“There’s something about winning tournaments and player of the year awards that’s fabulous, but when you’re voted for by your peers and recognized by the media and those that are already living members of the Hall of Fame, that’s irreplaceable,” said Negreanu.
“I’m in the 40th year of my life, I’m physically and mentally in the best place I’ve ever been, so to top it off with this is extra special. Once you’re in the Hall of Fame they can’t kick you out! It’s the epitome of acknowledgement for what we do.”
At least Lederer didn’t put a 100-year curse on Negreanu before he left.