Howard Lederer has broken his four-year silence and issued a public statement on the Full Tilt saga that cost the community millions.
Despite being one man among a group of former Full Tilt executives responsible for the temporary downfall of the second largest poker site in the world, Lederer has always taken most of the blame.
After the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) shutdown Full Tilt on April 15, 2011, it transpired that financial mismanagement had left thousands of players unable to withdraw their bankrolls. This instantly made Lederer public enemy number one.
After shunning the spotlight and deflecting blame whenever possible, Lederer eventually sat down with Matthew Parvis of PokerNews in 2012 to give his take on the situation.
Unfortunately, a combination of long-term memories and an unwillingness to take responsibility for the situation meant Lederer’s reputation took another battering after The Lederer Files went live.
A period of silence then ensued, but on May 19, just 12 days before the start of the 2016 World Series of Poker (WSOP), a written apology from Lederer appeared online.
Published by Daniel Negreanu on his website Full Contact Poker, the letter is a glimpse into the former Full Tilt boss’s mindset during the crisis and his take on the situation five years after the fact.
“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,” wrote Lederer.
Naturally, the response to Lederer’s letter has unsympathetic. Although Negreanu believes there is some sincerity in the apology, he has commented that people should make up their own minds as to whether it makes a difference or not.
Judging from the comments online, most players aren’t willing to let him off the hook that easily.
“@JohnMullennex: douche bag!!! So is his mouthy ass sister!”
“@Cardkillah: Just now? Gee, sorry I stole $159 million from you. My bad.”
“@ProfsConscience: We are all good right? See you at the WSOP this year?”
Beyond the responses to Lederer’s apology, the question on many people’s lips is: why now?
For many the tweet from @ProfsConscience is the most likely explanation. With the WSOP on the horizon and Full Tilt now essentially a skin of PokerStars, it’s possible that Lederer wants to play some bracelet events this year.
If this is the case then the statement could be a cleverly disguised barometer of public opinion. While that’s not to suggest he isn’t sorry for what happened, it’s also possible that he could be using the response to his letter as an indication of whether he’d be even welcomed at this year’s WSOP.