Know the Man with Chris "Jesus" Ferguson

Here we sat down with Chris to find out where he came from, how he feels about where he's at now, and where he's going. Read on and really get to know this poker master.

Question: What was your childhood like?

Answer: I had a wonderful childhood. I grew up in Pacific Palisades, a suburb of Los Angeles on the coast between Santa Monica and Malibu. My father taught game theory at UCLA, and a lot of my childhood was spent playing and analyzing games.

Question: How soon were you playing poker?

Answer: I can't recall ever being taught how to play poker. It seems that I've always known how. I'm sure my parents taught me when I was too young to remember. However, I do remember playing for money with friends as early as the fourth grade.

Question: Do you consider yourself a highly competitive person?

Answer: I think all successful people are highly competitive. But to be happy, you need to know how to manage your competitive instincts. This is probably truest in poker, where it's extremely important to be able to accept defeat. Even the best players in the world don't win tournaments more than three or four times as often as the average player, so failure is a big part of a poker player's life.

Question: Why poker and not any other game?

Answer: I love all games. I think there are more interesting and difficult games than poker. Bridge would be a classic example. Ever since at a very young age, I have been very good at knowing what people are thinking and telling when they are deceitful. I have also always been strong in math, and particularly probability and dealing with uncertainty, so I have always felt that poker is the game for me. Ultimately, however, it is my unique love for the game that has drawn me to poker and motivated me to work at improving as hard as I do and ultimately succeed.

Question: Why poker as a career?

Answer: I never chose poker as a career. Poker chose me. I always played and studied poker because I loved the game. In fact, when I started playing tournaments, I expected to lose money because I had very little experience. I just saw it as my poker tuition. I never called myself a professional until I won the World Series of Poker in 2000. Nowadays I spend most of my life on the road earning my living in poker tournaments, but it just happened that way; I never said, "I want to be a professional poker player."

Question: Why the cowboy hat, black clothes, dark glasses, long hair? Was it always your look, or was it for the intimidation and image factor in poker?

Answer: When I started playing poker in casinos, I was in college and looked the part, being very young and having long hair. I found that by simply putting on a cowboy hat, I gave off a completely different persona. Now people would ask me if I was a member of a band, or would ask me if I was in a rodeo. It was amazing what a simple thing like a cowboy hat did to people's perception of me. I never wore the hat to intimidate people or create an image. Somehow I was just more comfortable feeling that the people I was playing against didn't know me that well.

Question: Would you ever change your look?

Answer: Obviously I like the look I have created, but I'm not married to it. I will change it when the time is right.

Question: If you didn't wear the black clothes, hat, and glasses, do you think it would affect your game?

Answer: The clothes don't make the man or the game. It wouldn't affect my game at all, and I don't expect it would affect any of my opponents' games either.

Question: If you could change one thing about your poker career, what would it be?

Answer: I really wouldn't change anything. When success comes too easily to a person, especially in poker, it can go to their head. This can result in egos getting way out of line with reality, and there are those always willing to take advantage of a poker player with an inflated ego. What I would change is to make myself a better player, and I already dedicate each day to doing that.

Question: Do you want to play, like Doyle, for the rest of your life?

Answer: I think I will be playing poker for the rest of my life, but nothing like Doyle. I plan on frequently playing tournaments, but not the continuous amount of side action that a player like Doyle puts in. That's way too much poker for me. I can already get more than my fill just playing the major televised events each year.

Question: Where do you see yourself in the next 20 years?

Answer: I have no idea where I'll be in 20 years. I certainly never would have imagined being here 20 years ago or even 10 years ago.

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