A common question among those that want to start online poker is whether or not it is safe to play and whether or not their money is safe in the poker sites. Not that long ago most people, me included, would have answered yes to that question without giving it another thought. Perhaps adding that there might be some smaller less serious poker rooms out there but that you would be safe as long as you stuck to one of the big ones. Than along came Black Friday and everything changed. Turned out, Full tilt poker hadn’t separated play funds from other funds such as claimed leaving many players in a limbo from which most still haven’t been able to get their money. Pokerstars on the other hand was affected by the same events and has since long reimbursed American players and international players where never affected. Some would say that American players that played against their national laws was bringing this on themselves but even though it could be argue that there is some truth to that it does not affect the fact that full tilt was lacking client money and in a way running what could be described as big ponzy scheme. It might have been the affects of black Friday that brought the scheme down but there was none the less money missing which begs the question of whether or not one can trust the poker sites. Before I go any further with this I want to mention that full tilt is now under new ownership, the new owners are getting ready to pay out all players funds and the resurrected full tilt under new management has nothing to do with the scandal and is a reputable trustworthy company ran by a well regarded businessman.
The answer to the question of whether your money is safe in a poker room and whether it is safe to play poker online is as mentioned a lot harder to answer than it was just a year ago but my answer to the question is still, despite everything that happened, YES. To play online poker is still safe in most of the world. No player was charged with anything as a result of black Friday and the players where never the intended target. To have money in your poker account has proven to be less safe than assumed a year ago but I would still consider it safe as long as you stay away from sites that obviously are doing things that are not allowed such as allowing American players to deposit money and play despite this being against American law. If you want your money to be really safe you can play at pokerstars that has proven that they even can handle a situation like black Friday and still making sure that all players get their money. Where full tilt failed they passed the test of fire and has emerged on the other side trustworthy as ever,
That being said I do not believe that anyone should keep money they can not afford to loose in a poker account. That is money you should never play for anyway, only play with money you can loose. It might also be a good precaution to only keep the money you need for playing in your poker account and moving the rest to your regular bank account (or a special poker bankroll account). That will spread the risk if anything against odds would happen. Poker is after all to a very big part a game about risk management and that should not end just because you leave a table. Spread your funds over several poker rooms and banks to spread any conceivable risk.