Bankroll Management – OFF the tables
Wednesday, 29 June 2011
You’re a poker player, so by now you know that the feds have charged the founders of three of the world’s biggest internet poker businesses with money laundering, bank fraud and some other pretty serious stuff.
The news has touched every corner of this industry. Pros are worried about the future of sponsorship agreements. Affiliates are scrambling to redirect their traffic. Major televised events are being cancelled and, perhaps, shelved indefinitely. But what about you, the player? And, more importantly, what about your money? The natural reaction is to grab as much as you can carry and run for the hills like your house is on fire, but the trick is not to panic, just be careful. Here’s what you need to think about.
For Europeans, online poker is still very much alive, despite what you may be reading, and for the large part, your money is safe. Yes, on Black Friday, the US Department of Justice were able to seize funds out of 76 bank accounts in 14 countries in one fell swoop, so you could argue that your money isn’t safe anywhere, but that’s the panic talking again. Sit down and have a cup of tea, for heavens sake. Unless you’re an operator who has been providing online poker games to US players, you’ll be fine. The simple truth is that, as is the also case in the wider world, you just need to be careful with your money, and there are several measures you can take to do this.
First of all, it’s probably a good idea to reduce the amount of your bankroll you have on any given site. You’d be better off spreading it more thinly across various credible, trustworthy sites. Why put all your eggs in one basket? As we’ve seen, even the most trusted sites like FullTilt and PokerStars are subject to the wrath of governments. As a European, your money is safe with FullTilt and PokerStars, but much of the Black Friday hysteria on this side of the Atlantic came as people desperately tried to withdraw a lifetime’s poker winnings from one, temporarily frozen site. The last thing we need is little waves of panic breaking out every time a government gets shirty.
You could also get an eWallet, such as NETELLER. Not only will this allow you to manage your bankroll across a number of different sites, it also allows you to store your poker money online when you’re not playing with it. Rather than keeping all of your poker funds in your poker accounts, you can simply transfer the required buy-in into a site while keeping the rest safe in your eWallet account. When the game’s over, move your dosh back into your eWallet. Even if the poker site has problems, you’ll still be able to get at your money.
Most eWallets provide frictionless payment options, allowing you to move your money in and out without hassles or extra fees. Additionally, payout cards can be tied to an eWallet, like the NETELLER Net+ MasterCard, which allow you to instantly take your winnings out at any ATM or spend them in the shops.
Of course, if you feel the need to switch to smaller, less known and potentially less reputable sites in order to keep up their poker-based income, those using an eWallet for payment are able to do so with more security. Your bank and debit/credit card information are kept safe and out of the transaction. For instance, a lot of people probably wish they’d used an eWallet to deposit funds into the Sony Playstation Network right now.
To help you sleep at night, many eWallets are authorised by the Financial Services Authority, and one of the requirements of that is that they have to keep 100% of on-deposit, in transit and uncleared funds in trust. That means that if all their customers knocked on the door on the same day asking for their money back, they have the liquidity to pay. We wonder how many high street banks can say that?
The situation for US players is more complex, although not hopeless. you’re your money is till tied up, the sites have pledged that bankrolls will be returned, so expect to get your money back at some point
As WSOPE final tablist and CEO of Victory Poker Dan Fleyshman notes, however, “It could take a LONG time for some sites or, if they get the right bank involved, it can all be handled within weeks.”
Fleyshman, as an operator and a poker player, is uniquely placed to comment, and strongly advises not to panic: “Many people are selling their online funds at a discount, but I wouldn't suggest it, unless you need your money urgently, because your paying a percentage of something that is pretty safe in the long run, since the government doesn't want the backlash that would happen if one of the big sites didn't return player funds.
And as for the future of online poker in the US, players should prepare for the long haul, says Fleyshman: “Eventually there will be State by State regulation, which is a completely different landscape, and there will be totally different approaches done by land-based casinos, corporations and brands that will be eligible for gaming licenses. This will take years, even if something was agreed upon today at 3:00 pm because you can't make everyone happy in this case, it's impossible. You have to please the government, the online poker operator, the land based casino's, the IRS, the players and with everyone having different motives, needs, wants, it's literally impossible to please everyone. However, it has to happen at some point because there is far too much money involved for everyone, not to mention 8 million online poker players that won't accept prohibition forever.”