After his attempt to circulate a petition banning Howard Lederer from playing live poker at the Aria Casino in Las Vegas was abruptly halted by casino security, poker pro Nick DiVella has taken his petition online.
The petition has, as of this writing, been signed by nearly 200 players. Though Lederer is perhaps the most hated man in the poker community due to the alleged fraud carried out by himself and fellow Full Tilt board members, there are those who feel the petition is going a bit too far.
"I think players should feel free to make him feel unwelcome and I think it takes some real audacity on his part to show up, but I hope Aria doesn’t give in to the pressure of the petition," team PokerStars pro Isaac Haxton posted on TwoPlusTwo. "Casinos are not in the habit of barring white collar criminals, and as of now, Howard isn’t even convicted of anything."
DiVella, who grinded at Full Tilt prior to Black Friday, recently posted a letter to the "Executive Management of Aria Casino/Poker Room" stating his case that many players don't want to play with Lederer, as he allegedly "conspired to commit acts of fraud and money laundering with regards to Full Tilt online poker players money."
The petition will undoubtedly pick up momentum online, as millions of American players are still steaming at the recent news that the Full Tilt remission process will take an extended period of time. Rest-of-world players were made whole upon the site's relaunching on Nov. 6.
The debate of whether or not Lederer should be allowed to play at live tables is certainly making for lively discussion. Though the majority of posters tend to throw around words such as "scumbag" and "fraud" when speaking of Lederer, others rightly point out that America is a free country and Lederer is a free man. But that freedom also extends to players who may speak out in an effort to do what they feel is best for poker.
As poker pro and World Poker Tour host Tony Dunst stated on TwoPlusTwo, "it is the casinos job to cater to their customers, so why can’t those customers come together to socially self-regulate their industry and communicate their wishes to the casino?"
It is anybody's guess whether live casinos will, in fact, listen to the demands or urgings of their customers. If the casinos fail to act and enough players get up and walk away when Lederer enters, perhaps the hand of the casino will be forced. If enough players sign the petition, that also may be a motivating factor for poker rooms to prohibit Lederer from playing.
Lederer has implied that the DoJ has frozen his assets and he needs to get back to his livelihood. But the anger that still rages in many players is something that he must contend with and almost certainly affects his concentration while trying to win. It would make sense that he voluntarily avoid live play at least until some of the heat dies down. I would suggest relocating to another country and grinding online rather anonymously instead of creating the uproar of attempting to re-enter the live poker arena while the Full Tilt debacle remains fresh in the minds of most players—particularly Americans.