As much as I don't want to believe it, Howard Lederer may have screwed us all (well, a good many of us on this site anyway). According to the US Department of Justice, Full Tilt Poker was a massive Ponzi scheme, and poker legends Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson (among others) were all in on it.
The DOJ alleges that Lederer, Ferguson, and two company directors managed to skim $444 million in player deposits. The deposits were supposed to be held in segregated accounts, but the indictment says the funds were used for pretty much anything the guys at the top wanted.
I know we have (or had, before the FBI crackdown) a lot of online poker players here on WSO. And this news just sucks. It's hard enough to get an edge in the game using your wits. I mean, the deck is already stacked against you when you're going up against top shelf talent and the deposit/withdrawal functionality of the site is dodgy (to put it mildly). To have to compete with the guys at the top screwing you is pretty gut-wrenching.
You would think the rake would be enough to get rich in a near-zero overhead operation. But human nature being what it is, I guess it's too easy to be greedy. I've long suspected heavy bot usage in online poker, and that means more of your money is going to the house. But to think that a couple of professional poker heavyweights are just flat stealing your money is almost too hard to believe.
Obviously, I'll reserve judgment until the facts emerge. And I'm not ashamed to admit that I've got my fingers crossed that it isn't true.
If anything, however, this should just prove to you that gambling (online or otherwise) should be legalized. Especially poker, because it's not really gambling. The free market would provide diverse competition between online card rooms and they'd be forced to keep each other honest. It's yet another area of our lives where more liberty is the answer, not less.
In any case, I'd be interested to hear from anyone who ever won big with Full Tilt Poker and managed to cash out. Did you actually get the money? I did most of my online poker playing with Pacific Poker, and I can vouch for them. I actually cashed checks from them several times.