One of the most recognizeable, and successful, players in the world today is Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson…
Chris Ferguson, one of the most prominent players on the WORLD POKER TOUR™, holds a PhD in artificial intelligence from UCLA. Upon graduating, he turned his attention to playing professional poker as his primary occupation, while continuing to consult part time. Among his clients is the state of California for the California Lottery.
Ferguson played poker with friends on weekends during his high school years in Pacific Palisades, CA, and developed a desire to explore whether his instinctive flair for the game could lead to play at a higher level. He put that question in check until he’d finished his undergraduate degree at UCLA in mass computer sciences. During his graduate years, he began playing at card clubs and in tournaments around the region, beginning with small stakes. “You could play some really top players, and only risk a $200 buy-in,” he recalled. “It was a great way to develop your skill against top competition.”
Once he graduated in 1999, he turned his attention to professional tournaments with much higher stakes. Today he plays 70-80 tournaments a year. His most significant accomplishments were his five victories in four years in events at the World Championship. He consistently plays at the top level of the WORLD POKER TOUR, and has won more than $3 million in his career.
Interestingly, Ferguson’s father teaches game theory and statistics at UCLA. “I’ve obviously learned a lot from him, but not about poker,” he says. “In fact, my father knows enough to know that the he doesn’t want to be a gambler.”
Ferguson is easily identifiable at the tables. Long-haired, he always wears a black cowboy hat trimmed with silver, sunglasses that reflect the action at the table, and black western-style clothing. He’s as close to a gunslinger as there is in poker.