Mentioned here before that I am becoming uncomfortable with the relative size of Pokerstars compared to their rivals. While I wanted to expand on my thought process, every time I wrote things down it ended up sounding like a vague anti-Pokerstars paranoid rant. So, time for a better balanced post. Which will have to start with an admission…
I play at Pokerstars more than any other site – and think they are great! Great on all counts. Great software, Great tournaments, great rewards and bonuses, great promotions and enough variety to keep everyone happy... Yet with 300k+ peaks compared to the 80k of their closest rivals, a gap which is expanding, I am increasingly concerned about whether having a site this big is actually healthy for online poker. Pokerstars is now a huge brand in the poker world, though not so much outside it. New players often come in through Party or one of the big betting brands who advertise on the TV and then convert the player to their poker / casino offerings.
Once someone gets ‘into’ poker, they can not help but hear about the behemoth, and find their way to Stars. Of course marketing and word of mouth play a role too. What I am getting at is the natural flow of players… the big get bigger and we all know how effective they are at using that budget to grow even more. Where does it stop? Setting US legislation aside for the moment, will we see 500k player peaks soon enough, with players getting sucked from Party and iPoker to fatten the goose? Will we see a marketing budget so huge that the other site’s promotions and bonuses just pale into insignificance – further increasing the flow of players to Pokerstars? Just to remind you – I love the site, the games and the benefits… its just, well, an uncomfortable feeling that playing there can not be good for online poker as a whole. Can The Alternatives Provide As Good An Experience And Rewards? While no single site compares on all counts to Stars, you can certainly find some good reasons to play elsewhere if you look. Want to play against novice opponents? Then go to a network which has ties with the big betting sites such as OnGame or iPoker. Looking for a great loyalty deal, regular cashback or even a flat rakeback deal? There are plenty of smaller networks out there which will oblige including Merge (Carbon Poker) and Cake Poker. Want a fun experience, community feel and social aspects to your play? Luvin Poker are based on a community, and sites like Ladbrokes are a lot friendlier than some of the bigger networks too. Alright, I am sure you get the picture by now…
Pokerstars is beatable, though you will have to dodge every grinder and his dog at the tables. In 2012 I am going to make a conscious effort to focus on other poker sites instead… they might not be as all-round great, however my profits should improve – after all sitting with recreational players instead of grinders has a habit of increasing your bankroll. To end the article with an alternative top-pick, I’ll play more often over at Red Kings.
This is a cool OnGame site (where you benefit from the betting traffic of Betfair and Bwin!), and there are some unique bonuses and promotional offers too – including a choice of 6 welcome bonuses, and an extra $300 bonus the first time you get dealt the 2 red kings (increases to $500 if you lose with them!). You can either read more in my detailed Red Kings Poker Review or even better click here now to check out Red Kings for yourself!
Gl at the tables, Mark
Submitted by Planet Mark on Wed, 12/07/2011 - 16:26