The Biggest Poker Site – But Are They Best?
Planet Mark’s Summary: PokerStars did not grow to be 3 times bigger than even their closest rivals by chance. They have advantages in slick software, loyalty rewards and the size of their promotions which mean that most poker players end up on their site eventually.
Sure, there are some drawbacks, more ‘pro grinders’ compared to other poker sites is the main one – and the tournament field sizes often get ridiculously big too. On balance the benefits are overwhelming. You can play in the Sunday Million, qualify for the EPT, enjoy the biggest choice of cash games, tournaments and sit n goes anywhere online. You can also try many different formats and game variations, including the famous Zoom Poker.
Many players miss out on the fact that you can get up to 3 welcome bonuses at PokerStars. Once you register you head to the cashier to make your deposits. Use bonus code STARS600 here up to 3 times within 90 days for a 100% match up to a combined total of $600.
I’m confident that once you see the cool software and start to enjoy the different loyalty rewards that you will agree that PokerStars are a cut above other sites. Remember to check out www.PokerStars.com today, because you don’t want to miss out any longer!PLAY POKER NOW!
PokerStars.com Review - In Detail
Here is my detailed site review for PokerStars.com. I'll cover the different games, software and playability and the promotions and bonuses below. This review will finish with my summary and customary 'Planet Mark's Verdict' at the bottom of this page.
PokerStars.com are the biggest site by a long way. They regularly have peaks of 200,000+ simultaneous players - making them three times as big as their closest rivals (Titan Poker 3rd and 888 Poker in 2nd). This size advantage allows PokerStars to offer more games, bigger tournaments and promotions and to re-invest more in their players... which attracts even more players to their tables! With amazing software and what is considered the best customer support of any site there are good reasons why this site is the best as well as the biggest.
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PokerStars Review - Spotlight On Cash Games
With literally 1000's of tables to choose from and the fantastic Zoom Poker format on top, I'll break down what to expect for you game-by-game.
No-Limit Holdem is the main game, with tables starting with blinds of 1c / 2c and going all the way to $1000 / $2000. The key choices are for table size (2, 4, 6 or 9 players), speed (standard or fast), currency (Dollars or Euros) and stack size (shallow, normal or deep stacked). You will need to narrow the list using filters - after this you will see the tables listed with those with some empty seats on top.
PokerStars does attract a lot of 'small stakes pros' who multi-table the games, making a small hourly profit from each game which adds up over time. Though the huge amount of players keep the cash games profitable, I do recommend you get to know the 'regulars' and use this information to avoid them in marginal spots - focusing on the fish instead!
Fixed Limit Holdem and Pot-Limit Holdem have fewer tables, though still a decent choice.
Next up are the Pot-Limit Omaha games, with high-only and high-low split spread. Again these range from micro stakes through to nosebleed high-roller tables and come in 2, 6 and 9 player versions with fast and deep stack options available too. This is the biggest selection of Omaha games online by a long way, meaning you should be able to find juicy games around the clock.
Stud Poker in several different varieties (high, high-low + razz) and several types of Draw Poker, Badugi and mixed games complete the offerings. One that I recommend you check out is the excellent 8-game, this is a mix of 2-7 Triple-Draw, Limit Holdem, Omaha Hi-Lo, Razz, Stud, Stud Hi-Lo, No Limit Holdem and Pot-Limit Omaha. These games are fun, loose and profitable!
Zoom Poker is the biggest and best fast-fold poker game around - with 1000's of players in different NL Holdem and Pot Limit Omaha pools. In this game, as soon as you fold any hand you instantly start a new one with others from your pool - which means no waiting around for others to finish their betting. There is a 'fast fold' button which speeds things up even more, letting you fold those trash hands before it is your turn to act - your opponents will not know you have folded until it is your turn to act.
With No Limit Holdem and Pot Limit Omaha both attracting huge pools of players, and Omaha Hi-Lo having a growing following too - it is clear that Zoom is here to stay. I recommend you check out this fast, fun and very profitable game soon.
I should note that PokerStars recently bought in some restrictions on what kinds of 3rd party software tools are allowed on their site. This was to ensure that players buy-in information on rivals did not have an unfair advantage over the newer players. For me the balance is still tipped in favor of multi-tablers. I would recommend that new players gain some experience at softer / more recreational sites before venturing above the micro-limits at PokerStars. There are simply too many grinders with a ton of experience and (allowed) tools waiting to spot newcomers and relieve them of their bankrolls at PokerStars.
PokerStars Review - Spotlight On Tournaments
Again the massive number of games means I need to split this section up. Since there are enough games for even the most hardened multi-tabler to feel happy, in every poker game and huge spread of buy-in levels, I'll break them up by size - starting with the feature events and drilling down to the bread and butter tournaments kicking off every minute of every day!
Ever dreamt of the life-changing money you would receive for winning the infamous Sunday Million? If $100k++ in your bank sounds nice then you will be pleased to know that the Sunday Million is just one of a list of 'Sunday Majors' which include the Warm-Up, Sunday $500, Kick-Off and Sunday Storm. These are hugely popular games, and have their own qualifier tournaments running all week to ensure that all players get to take a shot.
The Majors are not restricted to Sundays, with massive games running all week. On top of these PokerStars run some of the biggest 'Championships' for online tournament players. These are the World Championship, Spring Championship and Turbo Championship, each one a tournament event spanning weeks with a long list of events with huge prizes. Again, you'll get plenty of opportunities to qualify for seats - often from just a couple of dollars.
Next on the list are the 'Bigger' tournaments. This is a daily and weekly schedule of tournaments which have big guaranteed prizes compared to their buy-ins. For example the 'Bigger $8.80c' with a $60,000 prize pool guaranteed. These go all the way to $55 and $162, plenty of smaller games have guarantees too. For those who prefer Turbo speed tournaments there are the daily 'Hot' games, Zoom tourneys, 2x and 3x turbo qualifiers and many regular fast tournaments too.
Once we get into looking at the daily schedule the choice expands yet again - as do the guaranteed prizes. With $3,3 to $22 events in every variation you can imagine I'll challenge any reader to come back and say that they can not find a game that suits them! Many of these tournaments do get HUGE fields, which is why PokerStars have introduced games capped at 500 and 1000 players into their schedule.
Satellite qualifiers to major (often Televised) events are always available at PokerStars. These include European Poker Tour Events, the World Series Of Poker and lots more. Sub-qualifiers start from just a couple of dollars, while 'supersatellites' often give away 10's of seats in the live events at once.
New additions to the tournament schedule include 'Phased' tournaments (which run over 2 days), progressive knockouts (your bounty grows as you eliminate more opponents) and a much bigger selection of Zoom Poker tournaments.
Finally the 180 Player SNGs come under 'tournaments' for me. These start as soon as 180 players join, start at $1 and include turbo and rebuy versions. Hugely popular, these games are kicking off every couple of minutes - great for those of us who love tournaments, yet do not have the 4 hours+ needed for the bigger games.
You'll find this the best tournament selection anywhere online by a long way - simply unmatched anywhere else.
PokerStars Review - Spotlight On Sit N Goes
If you have read this far then you will not be surprised to know that PokerStars.com have the biggest and best selection of Sit N Goes too! I have a separate section of this site covering these games and will direct readers who enjoy them to my PokerStars SNG Review for more.
PokerStars Review - Software And Playability
PokerStars have their own software client, which is often called the best out there. While I'll agree that this is a very good and very player-friendly design, it is not actually my favorite (this is currently the US-Friendly Carbon Poker). On the plus side, you can upload your own picture to play with at the tables, the games are super-fast and smooth and the client does easily support playing multiple tables at the same time.
Recently, PokerStars have introduced mobile versions of their software covering all of the major platforms. You can play on iPhone, iPad and Android devices - the mobile clients now include the awesome Zoom Poker too!
PokerStars Review - Bonuses, Incentives And Promotions
This could be another long list - I'll separate out the initial bonus, ongoing rewards and special promotions.
As a new player at PokerStars.com you can claim up to 3 welcome bonuses totalling $600 in your first 90 days. Use PokerStars Marketing Code PSPxxxx when you register your account (choose 'Affiliate Marketing Code' from the drop down list - you can not miss it!), then bonus code STARS600 for each deposit. The good news is that the points you earn in real money play to clear this bonus also count towards your VIP Club Level and your 'Stellar Rewards' bonus too.
Ongoing rewards are one of the secrets of success for this site - players get rewarded for their loyalty in several different ways. First up are 'reload bonuses' which typically happen 3 times a year. You get an extra bonus just for depositing more, if you are enjoying the games there anyway then this is basically a freeby!
Next the famous player loyalty scheme called the 'PokerStars VIP Club' has many different levels and a cool store where you can exchange the points you earn for gadgets, books, tournament entries or cash bonuses. As you play more you climb the levels all the way from 'Bronze Star' to 'Supernova Elite' which is worth $100k per year in bonuses alone!! Extra ongoing incentives include Stellar rewards, which are milestones of points for smaller rewards (great for smaller stakes poker fans), and not forgetting the tournament leaderboards - which between them give away $800,000's each year. Note that the top level of benefits was recently cut back (30% returns are now the max), the rewards were redistributed to the lower levels.
You would be right to wonder how other sites are able to compete with these rewards... and I have not even started the specials and promotions yet!
There are simply too many to mention, milestone hands, tournament events, satellites for live events, special Sunday Millions with added cash, a quarterly VIP freeroll with a million dollar prize pool. Regional events, ladies events, the chance to win a Lamborghini and many more. There is no other way to put it, PokerStars.com Promos are simply awesome - make sure you keep an eye on their website so you do not miss out on the latest deals.
PokerStars Review- Summary And Planet Mark's Verdict
Biggest and best sums up PokerStars.com nicely. While I am sometimes concerned that having a site able to offer games and incentives that much bigger than their rivals could be bad for poker as a whole - there really is no reason why you should not be taking advantage as long as you keep your eyes open for the pro-grinders at the tables.
Remember that you can claim your welcome bonus over up to 3 deposits - meaning you can check this site out before you committ to moving your poker bankroll there. Simply choose 'Affiliate Marketing Code' from the drop down list of 'Where did you hear about us?' during registration, then use PokerStars.com Marketing Code PSPxxxx in the new box that appears.
If you love online poker then you need to see for yourself what makes PokerStars.com so popular - I'm very confident that you will quickly start to wonder why you did not play there sooner!
More PokerStars-Related Articles
Fifty50 SNG Strategy (Similar To Double-Or-Nothing SNGs, With A Twist!)
WCOOP and SCOOP (the big PokerStars tournament events held each year) Info Can Be Found In The 'Online Events' Section Of My Poker Satellites Page
Alternatives To The Sunday Million, This One Covers Some Ideas For Big Sunday Games Not On PokerStars!