Online Poker: The Rise and Fall (and Rise?) of Erick Lindgren

Gerald Hanks

Monday, January 14, 2013 9:27 PM GMT

Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 9:27 PM GMT

In a recent piece in Bluff Magazine, writer Lance Bradley follows the story of former poker superstar Erick “E-Dog” Lindgren and his descent into gambling addiction. What skills took Erick Lindgren to the top of this sport, and what caused his fall from grace?

Poker fans who have followed Lindgren's career may recall his frequent successes on World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour events. His blond good looks and boyish charm led TV producers and marketing agencies to seek him out for appearances. He married former model and poker pro Erica Schoenberg, and the couple have a young son, Jake.

Playing poker for a living? Check. Betting huge sums on college and NFL football? Check. Hanging out in the coolest spots in Vegas? Check. Married to a hot blonde ex-model? Check. What could possibly go wrong?

Poker's Wunderkind

Lindgren translated the competitive drive he showed on the athletic fields of his native Burney, California, into an intense desire to succeed at the poker table. He became one of the most successful players during the mid-00's “poker boom” by claiming two WPT titles in less than twelve months, including the first million-dollar payday of the tour's history. He won his first WSOP bracelet in 2008 at the $5,000 buy-in mixed-limit hold'em event.

His success at the tables led to other opportunities. He signed on to endorse the online poker site Full Tilt poker, along with such other luminaries as Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson and Phil Ivey. He also wrote an instructional book, “Making the Final Table”, on poker tournament strategy.

Black Friday

As with many poker players, Lindgren felt the impact of 15 April 2011, known to US-based online players as “Black Friday”. The loss of the funds on his Full Tilt account, combined with his growing mountain of debts from football bets, caused Lindgren's financial world to collapse. He borrowed money from other players, not to cover his debts, but to make more bets in hopes that he could use his winnings to pay back his creditors.

Downward Spiral

The constant desire for more action led Lindgren into gambling addiction. According to the BLUFF article, Lindgren lost over $6 million in one month between sports betting and playing at the “Big Game” at Bellagio. At one point, Lindgren asked Chris Ferguson to authorize a loan from Full Tilt for $2 million. By mistake, Ferguson sent the money twice. Lindgren did not report the mistake, but kept the extra $2 million. Lindgren agreed to meet Ferguson after Black Friday to discuss the situation, but Lindgren never showed.

Rehab and Recovery

With the help of his wife, Erica, Lindgren recognized the depths of his gambling addiction. He visited the Morningside Recovery facility in Newport Beach, California, in an attempt to get his gambling under control.

“I’ve had a gambling problem for a long time,” Lindgren told BLUFF, “and I’ve finally got the opportunity to address it.”

With the NFL playoffs, the Super Bowl and March Madness on the horizon, many experienced players like Lindgren lose control and allow the action to overwhelm them. Players with a compulsive gambling problem should follow Lindgren's example and address their issues before making their next big bet.

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