Poker Stars is best known for sending both
2003 and 2004 WSOP Main Event winners Chris Moneymaker
and Greg “Fossilman” Raymer to the event. With the
addition of 2005 Main Event winner Joseph Hachem to the
crew, they’ve got the last 3 winners under their banner.
While this gets them a ton of television publicity, the
main message you should be getting is that this is one
of the most professionally-run poker rooms online. It is
a perennial player favorite, and is one of my personal
favorites. They’re closing in on
Party Poker’s numbers
in terms of ring game player traffic, and serious
tournament players will find everything they need here.
Even though you’ll find plenty of action down to the
1c/2c micro-limits, full high stakes tables are
regularly filled up. Excelling especially in terms of
software, tournaments, and ring game traffic at all
stakes, I keep
Poker Stars near the top of the list.
Bonus: 2.5 (check
homepage for current)
they seem to be pretty proud of their
overall package, bonus hunters will probably be
disappointed here. Deposit bonuses here are tough to
find, but they will occasionally run 20% or 30% bonuses.
The cashout structure is pretty generous, so you can
probably work off your bonus pretty quickly at most
Poker Stars seems to target bonus seekers less
and would rather keep serious players by offering a
strong overall site. Their main reward comes in the form
of Frequent Player Points, which we’ll discuss in the
The main promotion to players at
Poker Stars is the Frequent Player
Point system (FPP), which accumulates as you buy in to
tournaments or play raked hands in cash games. With your
points, you can then buy in to special freeroll
tournaments or get special free merchandise such as
jackets, books, posters, and t-shirts. I even got a
little tank top for my girlfriend through the FPP Store,
and it’s pretty good quality. (She actually supports my
online poker habit. How cool is that?) Besides that,
they also hold tons of satellites into live tournaments
and a smatter of freerolls. I recently saw a statistics
that claimed that Poker Stars sent 20% of the field for
the last WSOP Main Event. Also, they've just launched a
VIP Program which rewards more frequent players with a
higher rate of FPPs and a greater variety in the player
I am constantly amazed at the reputation
Poker Stars has
gotten as one of the toughest places to play online.
What tables were they on? While it is true that the
tables are generally tighter with flop percentages
averaging 25-50%, you’ll find plenty of poor players
making bad decisions all the way up to the highest
limits. Since you’ll capitalize most often on the
mistakes of your opponents, there is still plenty of
money to be made for the average player. This isn’t a
wild poker room, but it certainly doesn’t deserve the
tough reputation it has received.
To sum it up, you can’t do better than
Poker Stars for
tournaments. While their best events are the larger
buy-in tourneys for serious poker players, they have a
good number of small-stakes events down to a $1 buy-in.
Tournaments fill up very quickly, so you’ll usually be
playing for a large prize pool regardless of the buy-in.
Their big weekly event is now up to $1,000,000 guaranteed
with a $215 buy-in. That's the largest weekly online
tournament up to this point.
They probably offer one of the busiest tournament
schedules online, and their biggest event, the World
Championship of Online Poker, takes place over the
summer. It is structured similar to the WSOP with lots
of events of mixed games. The main tournament in the
WCOOP drew over a $1 million prize pool. For Sit ‘n Go
tournament players, they have the usual assortment with
plenty of players, but they also host some wacky events
like 45-person $1 tourneys or $6 2-table speed tourneys.
These are quite popular and fill up even for games like
Omaha and Stud. Poker Stars easily gets a top score in
Poker Stars usually is at the top of the list when
online poker players are asked what their favorite
software package is. While I don’t think that any poker
site is really that much better than the competition,
Poker Stars also earns a high rating. For starters, the
lobby is very logical and easy to use. At the table,
you’re able to upload your own avatar, and game speed
moves along at a quick pace. The table graphics are
attractive, and the hand history feature is pretty
advanced. You can also see every player’s hole cards
(even if they didn’t show) at the showdown by using
their hand history. One excellent feature is the “Time”
option, which allows you to occasionally take extra time
(usually 30 seconds) if you’re faced with a tough
decision that requires extra thinking. The only .5 point
deduction we took is for the cards only being dealt one
at a time at the table. It’s sort of frustrating to see
that first Ace and watch a 4 come up 3 seconds later.
You better not be playing A-4, either! Overall, this is
one the best software packages in the industry.
-Excellent ring game traffic. This is easily the #2 site
with plenty of full tables available.
-Busy high-stakes tables. Larger players will find
plenty of busy tables.
-Great software. This is probably our favorite software
package overall and is very user-friendly.
-Best tournament offerings. This is the most
comprehensive and busiest tournament schedule online.
Cashouts – 5
Poker Stars is one of the best in terms of cashouts. At
times, I have received instant withdrawals to my
Neteller account, and it should take 12-24 hours at
Customer Service – 4
While customer service is done strictly through e-mail,
they’re very professional in their responses. Turnaround
time is usually less than an hour, and I’ve always
received the proper answer to any question I had.
Game Selection: Hold'em, Omaha, Stud
Limits: Fixed Limit: .02/.04 - $100/200
No Limit: .01/.02 - $5/10
Poker Stars is a tighter site, you might be
tempted to slowplay your big hands preflop. I don’t
recommend this play very often, because there are still
plenty of players looking to get in to see a cheap flop
and crack your Aces. You’ll still run into opponents who
play trash cards, so I recommend raising your premium
hands often to thin the field and make it that much more
difficult to be outdrawn. Also, my experiences here show
that stealing the blinds from late position should be
done with caution. Many players defend their blinds, and
will try to outplay you on the flop. If you don’t have a
better-than-average hand, just let it go even if you’re
the first one into the pot. It’ll save you from having
to make a tough decision on the flop and perhaps running
into a check-raise. Finally, you’ll have the option to
show your losing and uncalled winning hands. I don’t
recommend doing this unless you’re setting them up for
later. Why give your opponents free information that you
didn’t have to give?
to visit Poker Stars.