HighStakers.com's PokerStars Review
PokerStars has long claimed to be the largest online poker room in the world, and since no other site has ever dared to argue the point, it's safe to assume that the claim is true. PokerStars is a surprisingly young site, considering that it currently boasts of a membership in the tens of millions, but the company's keen understanding of poker players and its willingness to give them what they want has quickly launched the room to the top of a very long list of notable poker sites.
PokerStars has long utilized a design that pays homage to good old fashioned live poker, but frequent updates ensure that the site itself is anything but outdated. For that reason, both live poker traditionalists and tech-savvy online players will feel right at home here. Even the ample number of lobby, table and individual player features are designed to be subtle, organic and user-friendly.
The tables themselves promote high visibility while simultaneously being easy on the eyes, making them ideal both for long sessions and for massive multi-tabling. If PokerStars' classic look doesn't suit you, then you will no doubt appreciate the fact that the lobby layout is customizable, that there are 13 different table themes, and that players can adjust both their background and their deck. While the pop-up tournament information is irritating, a quick click takes care of it.
PokerStars' proprietary software has been a game changer - literally - many times over. It's hard to put your finger on what makes the package exceptional, but that's likely because everything is good. PokerStars covers all their bases by updating their software on a regular basis, and by that we mean several times a year.
The end result of PokerStars' diligent software maintenance is a poker room that's familiar but always fresh. They're never behind the times when it comes to the quality of their graphics, the speed of their games, or their special player features. The lobby is also expansive but extremely easy to navigate with a satisfying array of stats. Whether you're a regular player or only an occasional visitor, there's always something new and useful to try.
As the industry's largest poker room, you would expect PokerStars to have an exceptional selection of games, and they don't disappoint. On offer as ring games, MTTs and SNGs are the following variations: Texas Hold'em, Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo, 7 Card Stud, 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo, Razz, 5 Card Draw, 2-7 Triple Draw, HORSE and HOSE. All of these games can be found in a fixed limit format with a wide range in stakes. Pot limit and no limit versions are generally only offered for Texas Hold'em, Omaha and the two Draw variants.
While PokerStars' high stakes ring games generate a lot of headlines, they're equally well known for their tournaments. Not only is PokerStars home to the largest and most well-funded online tournament series - the WCOOP - they also frequently sponsor both WSOP and WPT events, making them the go-to poker room for players hoping to satellite their way into a live seat.
It's rare if not unheard of to ever visit PokerStars when the player population is under 100,000. In fact, during peak hours the site's traffic regularly tops a quarter million with several thousand cash tournaments running simultaneously all day, every day. PokerStars' massive traffic means it's fishing season 24/7/365 if you know which tables to play. On the other hand, the more popular mid-stakes Texas Hold'em tables are so well-frequented that they boast some of the tightest competition in the world.
If your aim when visiting PokerStars is to make a profit, then you'd be better off multi-tabling the micro-stakes than trying to squeeze blood from the rocks around the middle and high stakes tables. Likewise there's money to be made at the site's many awesome guaranteed MTTs, but be prepared for at least a six-hour session if your goal is the final table. Even if the skill level for the tournaments is lower, the fields are so large that winning consistently takes significant game and patience.
PokerStars' generosity by way of cash bonuses begins and ends with their big 100% sign-on bonus good for up to a $600 match. To make this bonus more accessible to budget-minded amateurs, PokerStars will spread that $600 maximum over your first three deposits. Just be sure you get those deposits in within your first 90 days.
The PokerStars site also promises occasional reloads, but don't hold your breath. To get these rare (and usually small) bonuses, you'll have to peruse the website, your PokerStars emails, and the interface promo page diligently. Tournament players will find the most value in PokerStars' promotional package, which revolves almost entirely around satellites, tournament series, and special freerolls.
After that first bonus, about the only way that ring game players can expect to get something extra is through PokerStars' Frequent Player Program. Unfortunately, this program doesn't currently offer cash back. Instead, you'll have the option of trading in your hard-earned points for apparel, small electronics, or tournament entries. Play often enough to attain one of the higher VIP levels and you may actually get an exclusive cash bonus, though these too are few and far between.
What PokerStars Is Known For
If recent statistics are to be believed, then a significant majority of all online poker players will frequent the PokerStars tables at some point. The site has become so famous that the name PokerStars has pretty much become synonymous with online poker. This fame alone drives millions of first-time players to the PokerStars poker room, but its celebrity is far from undeserved. Serious players appreciate PokerStars' constant action at all levels and their ample career-spawning satellite opportunities.
PokerStars' popularity shouldn't be a serious player's sole reason for staying with the room, but it's a good enough reason to give it a first try. We feel confident that the iconic site's overall excellence will convince most players to return.