Howard Lederer

Howard Lederer is a polarizing figure. He has a family, close circle of friends in the poker community and, prior to April 2011, had a relatively solid history and reputation as a poker player.

Now? Everyone (but maybe his family and friends) hates him.

Lederer is one of the founding members of Full Tilt Poker. While FTP started off great, it ended horribly. Howard and Co. took everyone for a ride and spent all of the players’ money. It’s been 2 years and players are just now starting to catch wind that they might be receiving their payouts (soon).

So given his history – all of it – I thought it would be interesting to write up a short bio of Howard Lederer. It’ll give you a chance to see both sides of The Professor.

Early Life

Howard was born in 1963 in Concord, New Hampshire. From an early age he was introduced to various games of skill, including cards and chess. He initially focused on chess, leaving college to play in New York. However, he joined the Mayfair Club where he was introduced to Texas Holdem, a game that was relatively new to the area. It was also during this time that he started to teach his sister Annie Duke how to play.

Howard moved to Las Vegas in 1993 to pursue poker full time. He still lives there now with his wife and son.

Poker Career: Results, Bracelets & Awards

Howard has had some impressive results since moving to Las Vegas in 1993. Here are some of his top scores.

  • 1994 WSOP Holdem – 3rd - $33,750
  • 2000 Limit PLO – 1st - $198,000
  • 2001 2-7 w/Rebuys – 1st - $165,870
  • 2002 WPT Main Event – 1st - $320,400
  • 2003 WPT 5-Star World Poker Classic – 1st - $220,820
  • 2004 WPT 5-Star World Poker Classic – 1st - $339,842
  • 2004 WPT 5-Star World Poker Classic PLO – 1st - $139,680
  • 2008 Aussie Millions $100k NLHE – 1st - $1,100,000
  • 2009 WSOPE PLO – 2nd - $207,946
  • 2010 WSOP TOC – 2nd - $250,000

Howard’s results stop in January 2011, just a couple of months prior to Black Friday.

He has over $6.5 million in tournament winnings. He has cashed at the WSOP 44 times, which accounts for nearly $1.6 million of his total earnings. Most of his scores comes from the World Poker Tour (WPT).

Howard has also won 2 WSOP bracelets – one in 2000, where he won the limit PLO event. The 2nd bracelet came in 2001 from the 2-7 with rebuys event.

Full Tilt: PokerStars Only Competitor

Howard was one of the founding members and onetime president of Tiltware LLC. This is the company that was behind Full Tilt Poker. Along with Rafe Furst, Ray Bitar and Chris Ferguson, they launched Full Tilt in 2004.

Full Tilt Poker was known for their pros, constant high stakes action (that players could rail), unique tournaments and Rush Poker. Rush Poker was the first of it’s kind, allowing players to fold their hands early before the action reached them so that they could be transported to another table and dealt another hand.

They ran Full Tilt Poker (into the ground) until 2011.

Black Friday: The Smear in Lederer’s Underpants

Life was pretty good for Howard Lederer up until this point. But then he dropped the ball in a big way.

On April 15, 2011, Full Tilt Poker’s site was closed to US players. Along with PokerStars, Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker, they were charged with money laundering and fraud, amongst other things. However, unlike competitor PokerStars, they didn’t continue business for long after that. They had their license suspended, and had to stop accepting international play.

The problem that Howard and the other board members were faced with were civil complaints stating that Full Tilt defrauded players. That they received $443 million in players funds yet, seemingly, had no money to pay players back. They were labeled a Ponzi scheme.

In 2012 Full Tilt Poker reached an agreement with the Department of Justice and PokerStars to give up their assets. PokerStars agreed to pay $547 million for the assets, as well as an additional $184 million for the players outside the US that were owed funds. $150 million of the settlement money was for US players.

Howard settled with the DOJ in December of 2012. He admitted to no wrongdoing, and agreed to forfeit assets worth more than $2.5 million. This was short of the $42-$45 million the DOJ was initially aiming for.

So problem number one for poker players is that Howard Lederer and Co. took players for a lot of money. It was a huge blow to the community.

Then Howard added salt to the wounds of poker players by remaining silent on the subject for more than a year. He did an exclusive interview with Poker News known as The Lederer Files in September 2012. This was a 7 hour video that was met with mixed reactions. Some players thought it was good, others felt like many questions needed to be followed up on. Pro player Daniel Negreanu thought that the videos incriminated Howard, and that he was ultimately deserving of a prison sentence.

My opinion? What’s done is done. But Howard screwed up a good thing by getting greedy. As a result he lost a little bit of money, but more importantly, he lost the credibility, trust and respect from the majority of the poker community. This is impacting him now as he tries to play poker in Las Vegas, and I would imagine it affects him later if he chooses to get involved in online poker again, in any way, when online poker becomes regulated. He can’t do anything until then per his agreement with the Department of Justice.

What is Howard Lederer Up To Today?

Not a whole lot. He recently finished up with the Department of Justice, coming to an agreement to sell of some of his assets, which include real estate and vehicles.

He’s trying to get back into poker games, too. Recently he’s been participating at the games at Aria. However, one player in particular, Nick DiVella, a regular at the 5/10 to 10/20 games, was trying to pass a petition to get him banned from Aria.

Nick was prevented from passing the petition around, despite the manager at Aria saying they’d listen to what players had to say. It was also mentioned that the room may ban Howard, not because of how players feel, but more or less for fear of his safety.

Either way, I’m sure players would be happy to see him gone – for good.

2 Facts About Howard Lederer

Here are some interesting facts about Howard Lederer.

1. Howard Lederer was given the nickname, The Professor, by fellow player Jesse May. Howard thinks the nickname came out of nowhere, but it’s been said that it came from Howard’s style of play.

2. He wrote a book in 2004 titled, Howard Lederer “Tells” All