Professional poker is a tough field and it requires a great amount of diverse qualities and skills for one to establish themselves as a big name. The three players below have each established themselves as members of poker’s elite. However, they had felt forced for one reason or another to withdraw from the limelight. And 2017 turned out to be the year of their comeback or the year they have indicated that we could anticipate their comeback in near future.
Here are the three players that we have seen little of over the past several years, but we are quite certain that they have a lot to show.
Chris Ferguson has been praised by many for his qualities and skills of a poker player. However, he has drawn an equal amount of negativism towards himself due to his alleged involvement in the 2011 Full Tilt Poker Ponzi scheme scandal.
In a nutshell, Ferguson, who was co-founder of Full Tilt Poker, and three other individuals at the online poker room were indicted by the US Department of Justice for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme that had paid out nearly $450 million worth of players’ money to themselves. While Ferguson never admitted to being part of such a scheme and his guilt never was never proved, doubt over his integrity has remained within the poker community.
Following his indictment, the 2000 WSOP Main Event champion disappeared completely from poker. Little was heard of Ferguson in the years after 2011. The player eventually reappeared on the live poker stage last summer, when he joined the flock of WSOP participants in Las Vegas.
He cashed in ten events last summer, with his fourth-place finish in the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em 6-Handed Championship marking his deepest run. While Ferguson made his official comeback last year, it can be said that it was this year that he made bigger headlines.
Following this year’s editions of the WSOP and WSOP Europe festivals, the player was crowned the 2017 WSOP Player of the Year. Ferguson cashed in 17 WSOP events during the summer series and in five more during the WSOP Europe that took place in October at King’s Casino Rozvadov in the Czech Republic to collect 1,178.53 points and top the prestigious ranking.
In Las Vegas, he made two final tables, finishing fourth in the $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship for $150,929, and second in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship for $151,700. In Rozvadov, he topped the field of the €1,650 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better for €39,289 and his sixth WSOP gold bracelet.
Ferguson clearly re-entered the world of live tournament poker with flying colors. However, there were quite a lot of people who were not ready to welcome him back happily. Daniel Negreanu, known to be among the most outspoken representatives of the global poker community, criticized his fellow player for never offering an apology to those affected by the 2011 Full Tilt Poker scandal.
Negreanu first commented on Ferguson’s return last year and maintained his stance this year, as well. He took to Twitter when Phil Hellmuth posted a picture of him and Ferguson on his profile during the WSOP Europe.
Despite the stream of negativity towards Ferguson, there were also players who seemed to be ready to give him a chance. In a recent podcast, UK poker pro Charlie Carrel dwelt that people should be nicer to the disgraced player. Carrel also went on to say that multiple poker insiders have told him Ferguson was almost certainly innocent.
After building a terrific poker career and reputation as one of the world’s most skillful poker professionals, Gus Hansen disappeared from the public eye and from the poker stage. Losing millions of dollars at the online tables of PokerStars and Full Tilt, the player made a life-changing decision to move away from poker, at least for a while and channel his attention to something completely different.
The player has been rumored to have lost over $20 million in high stakes cash games. He said in a 2014 interview with Danish poker news outlet Pokernyhederne, that he blamed himself for his bad run and that he was considering switching to lower stakes poker. Eventually, the player left the poker stage altogether for several years. Until last year.
First indications that the player was returning to poker appeared last summer when it was reported that he was seen at the cash game tables of various Las Vegas casinos. In a November 2016 interview with Poker News, the Great Dane, as he is known in the poker community, confirmed that he was planning to re-enter the poker stage in 2017. Hansen was seen at more cash games during the first half of the year.
This spring, he even made his first televised appearance. He took part in the Celebrity Cash Kings cash game festival at King’s Casino Rozvadov, playing against Antanas Guoga, Leon Tsoukernik, and Sam Trickett, among others.
Most recently, Hansen appeared in a prestigious live tournament. The player took part in this year’s WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic $10,400. Here it is interesting to note that he took down the first ever such event back in May 2002. This was his first in-the-money finish ever, and his first live tournament title ever. Hansen did not cash during the 2017 edition of the event, but at least we know now that he is making steps towards returning to poker.
Ivey has had quite a rough time off the felt over the past several years. The player is being sued by Atlantic City’s Borgata and failed in his attempt to sue London’s Crockfords Casino over its refusal to pay him out £7.7 million in baccarat winnings from 2012. Both lawsuits were related to his use of the controversial edge-sorting technique while playing baccarat at the two gambling venues with his companion player Cheung Yin Sun.
The more publicity the cases gained, the less we heard from Ivey, whom many consider one of the world’s best poker professionals and card players as a whole. One of the cases was concluded in October, but the outcome was not in the player’s favor.
Ivey lost his appeal to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, with Supreme Court justices upholding the Court of Appeal’s decision from 2016 that Crockfords Casino should not pay the player his winnings due to his use of edge-sorting to gain advantage.
January 2016 was the last time the player cashed in a live tournament. He finished fifth in the $200,000 Triton Super High Roller for $656,500. The player has not taken part in a live tournament since then. What is more, few knew where he was exactly until the second half of 2017, when reports emerged that he was playing cash games at Macau casinos.
Many hoped that Ivey will return to the live tournament stage during the WSOP this summer. This did not happen, but it seems that the player has said in a recent interview with an Asian media outlet that he plans to make his comeback in 2018.
It is also important to note that Ivey was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame this year, along with the late David “Devilfish” Ulliott.
Terry Davis holds a degree in Psychology, but it was after his graduation that he found his real passion – writing. Previously, he worked for a local news magazine.