Because of the current online poker climate, and PokerStars ability to endure the storm without damage, it’s soared to new heights amongst the opinions of both players and well-informed critics. PokerStars hasn’t needed the departure of other online platforms to become a distinguishable brand, nonetheless, its software has truly reached the pinnacle of online poker performance and has yet to be rivaled. Because of its outstanding rapport in nearly all areas of online poker, it’s been able to dominate the virtual landscape for quite some time.

PokerStars has become the model for online poker development, both through its uncanny use of advertisements and player sponsorship. While not being the only two marketing methods PokerStars has utilized, they’ve been the most successful. If popular players Daniel Negreanu, Vanessa Rousso and Jason Mercier weren’t enough to attract new faces to both live and online poker, as more witty online players emerge from the virtual felt they’ll receive just as much notoriety as their celebrity brethren. One of the inviting characteristics of the site, PokerStars is very generous in terms of reciprocity to its loyal consumers.

With such a following, PokerStars has continuously upped the ante in terms of its selection of games and tournaments. With well over 100,000 players during peak hours, a vast collection of variations is needed to keep up with the increasing demand for action. On a site such as PokerStars, you’ll be able to find almost any poker variant you’re looking for, including mixed games, lowball, and 10-game offerings. In addition, depending on your status and devotion to the site they may allow you to give input on what new games PokerStars should implement based on popular opinion and requests. It should be a rare occasion, however, as the PokerStars staff is typically way ahead of the curve in terms of trends.

In detriment to the site, since it’s been forced out of the United States demographic, its traffic numbers have decreased a bit. It still remains the busiest site on the web, however, it has taken a hit because of the lost player pool.

Although not in their control, PokerStars does host some of the toughest games found online. Because most players choose to call PokerStars home, they’ll often stick around for years until a better opportunity comes along. HINT: We’ve been waiting for years.

If you’re capable of competing with the best in the world, and are seeking the best platform to do so, PokerStars is the place for you.

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Layout and Features

PokerStars is one of the few online platforms that demands world-class software, because of its worldwide recognition and popularity. With such a diverse player base, they’ve assembled some of the best features any online poker platform has ever seen, and it’s much appreciated.

Beginning with the software operation, you’ll rarely encounter a hiccup during play, or any time after you’ve opened the lobby. Despite cramming in hundreds of thousands of players across the globe on its own server, they’ve gone the distance to maximize efficiency and ensure that the site has seldom down time, if ever. While you’re at your table, animations are smooth and graphically superior to most competitors, and the execution of custom player avatars doesn’t slow game play in the least. You’ll have few issues with choosing bet sizes, raise sizes, or find the “fold” buttons, and if a mistake was made, it will likely be because you’ve mis-clicked. The experienced online player is aware of the susceptibility to technological error, but PokerStars tries its best to minimize these blunders by developing a graceful platform.

Although not a con, the PokerStars lobby is very complex and can feel a bit overwhelming. While players who have knowledge of some of the features will be ecstatic to utilize their new toys, novices may be quite confused by all of the choices on the command center. Despite its hectic appearance, new players should recognize that all of the options are to their benefit. You can choose between a variety of games, both through the ring game and tournament views. Players can also select sit-n-go tournaments, or “Home Games,” which is a feature that is steadily growing in popularity. Even after opening any of the aforementioned options, players can shuffle through various essentials such as table design, table color, seat preference, custom avatar, deck color, multi-colored decks, auto-reload, custom buy-in amounts, and betting preferences. While it’s never great to become predictable, the last feature is very useful during those times where you don’t need to be tricky with your opponents. Having custom betting amounts makes your sessions extremely efficient, especially when players don’t pay attention to what your bets mean, and how to counter them.

Although trivial, many recreational players have grown to love the “Find a Team PokerStars Pro” feature. Enabling users to locate their favorite stars in an instant, if Vanessa Selbst or Betrand Grospellier is sitting down at a table, you’ll be able to watch their play during a tournament or cash game. A neat inclusion for the ultimate fan boy (or girl), it’s often surreal to view a PokerStars pro win thousands of dollars in a short online sitting. You may even learn a thing or two!

With all of PokerStars superb offerings, they want to make sure players have the chance to tailor their platform to their own tastes. With the help of select filters, both grinders and weekend warriors can customize their lobby to only include the games they wish to play. With players being on the site during all hours of the day, even after narrowing your selections you’ll still have plenty of games to participate in. If you only enjoy playing 200-400NL, or you’re the rabid micro-stakes multi-tabler, these games can be available as soon as you start the program if you have filters selected.

Database software, including Poker Tracker 4 and Hold’em Manager 2 can be used on the site.

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Customer Service

We would be telling a massive lie if we said PokerStars didn’t have the best customer service team of any online platform that’s available at the moment. Highly acclaimed for their speed and attention to detail, despite only addressing clients by email they haven’t skipped a beat in terms of helpful assistance. It’s always a pleasure to have conversation with the PokerStars staff, because they’re so attentive and aware of the concepts needed to keep consumers content. They’ve truly hit the pinnacle of award-winning service, and it shows with every inquiry they address.

Operating both their own software and network makes things easier when bringing up a variety of questions including connectivity, troubleshooting, account dilemmas and payment processes. Considering the latter, PokerStars is one of the best in terms of turnaround time, both for deposits and withdrawals. They offer an expansive collection of applications for both, and with the elimination of users from the U.S. monetary transactions have been smoother than ever before. Easily one of the primary deal breakers or deal makers for new registries, they’re working on all cylinders to guarantee there’s few hiccups in terms of receiving your hard-earned cash.

Unfortunately, it’s been a trend that with the big operational poker sites, also comes compromised security and cheating scandals. While it’s impossible to guarantee complete safety with the advancement of technology and criminal behavior, PokerStars is as close as you get to total peace of mind. Void of the occasional, tilted, bad beat story – in which players unjustifiably blame the site for losing 3 times in a row to 84o – PokerStars has little to no reason to cheat its players, and has never been accused of doing so. In fact, while its sad, PokerStars is one of the few remaining sites yet to be tied to any suspicious activity. (We don’t really count Black Friday.)

With keen monitoring of acts of collusion, multi-accounting, chip-dumping, superusers and the newfound poker scandal – “bots”, PokerStars has needed to and will remain reprimanding abusers of these cheating methods. It’s against what PokerStars stands for, which is the fair and safe operation of the “world’s best poker site.”

If players ever have any more common questions, there is a convenient Frequently Asked Questions forum on the PokerStars web site, which lists answers to many of the inquires. As always, if you don’t find the answer you’re looking for, it should only take 24 hours for PokerStars and its team to respond to a custom email inquiry.

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Not just PokerStars per say, but what several huge online sites both benefit and suffer from is their broad scope of player types. PokerStars caters to one of the biggest online poker markets available, and with this in mind they attract both complete beginners and intimidating experts. If you were to step into the realm of the high-stakes arena, you’ll be flabbergasted at the resourceful play of nearly all of its inhabitors. Without the help of a HUD, or unless your just as creative, it’s nearly impossible to beat the high-stakes games on PokerStars. Players are just that adept. Nonetheless, those who venture into the micro-stakes and small-stakes venues will often be shocked at how horrendous the decision-making of their foes can be. It’s a double-edged sword; you’ll encounter players who will require a well thought-out strategy to counter, while many times you could habitually click the raise button and inspire folds from your opponents.

The most important concept to understand is the correlation between skill level and stakes. As you move down the ladder, play becomes increasingly sub-standard, and you shouldn’t have consistent trouble with determining the appropriate strategy for success. On the opposite end, detailed reports and memorization of how your opponents responded to you, and what you tried on them, will be crucial to eek out a modest win rate.

Some visitors of the site will grow fond of the ability to witness extraordinary competition on a regular basis, while the thought of rarely winning a session makes many players want to cringe. It depends on preference, and PokerStars flips both sides of the coin in equality.

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An appropriate follow up, one of the motives successful professionals have to herd towards PokerStars is their unmatched cluster of games. Other than a few very minute poker varieties, they carry all of the games the pros need. Texas Hold’em remains as the focal point for the most action at small to mid-stakes, but the highest level participators are seeking games such as Triple Draw, Lowball, Razz, H.O.R.S.E., Omaha and 8-game blends. Earning far more attention from the world-class players than the average regular, these games run at specific times and usually when there’s a weak player or two involved. Many of the variations are worth learning, however, you’ll want to be prepared to lose a lot from the start in order to gain comprehension and respect in the lesser-played variants.

Just being added months ago, Zoom Poker has been the rave for players who are driven by action. It’s every action junkie’s fix; any time you’re bored with a hand or want to find a better spot you’re able to fold instantly and move to another table. Rather than playing against a number of fixed opponents, your opposition always varies, and you start games by entering a pool of players at a designated stake. While the amount of stakes available is limited (mostly because of the inability to acquire sufficient numbers at higher levels), it’s a very fun and profitable atmosphere once you understand the most advantageous approach.

In reference to that thought, understanding how each game is played would be great to know before stepping into a game wouldn’t it? PokerStars assists in that regard by offering brief guides in certain topics of poker 101. Learning the betting structure of each game, along with player types, power of position, and bluffing should be exciting to dive into.

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With approximately 160,000 visitors during its busiest hours, you won’t have a problem finding a suitable option for poker play. While the cash game and tournament environments will vary drastically in terms of popularity, it’s not a major deterrent for most players. Tournaments remain more popular globally, but it’s still a debate over which field garners more monetary value over time. (Obviously, depending on where you spend most of your time, you’ll probably be more bias.)

In a broader observation, you’ll notice most of the traffic is concentrated at the smaller buy-in levels, both for tournaments and ring game play. This is the trend industry wide, or at least until all poker players become filthy rich and can afford to play at the highest levels religiously.

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Those who are familiar with the PokerStars brand are aware of their online tournament superiority. While even suggesting that their online events are their most prominent attraction may be an insult to the rest of their platform, they’ve truly succeeded in this area. While the Sunday Million guaranteed event is easily the most consistent draw for tournament players, their seasonal Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) and World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) tournaments have become so enormous that they’ve begun to challenge the payouts of big live events. Because PokerStars is so well-versed in both payout and blind structure, many players have begun to prefer playing their online events because they’re well orchestrated and more comfortable. It’s much easier to grind through a tournament when you can sit in solace at your own home!

Nonetheless, their guaranteed events aren’t the only promising avenue tournament players want to venture down. Skipping over their Sit-and-Go tournaments, Bounty events, Freerolls, or Rebuys would be a severe misstep, as each category can provide a boost to even the most healthy bankroll. With such a wide array of available options, PokerStars is paradise for the tournament pro.

Helping to inspire new players and progress to the highest levels of both online and live tournament play are the satellites and qualifiers into major tournaments. PokerStars is fully aware of the financial restrictions many players have experienced in recent years, and even new players who have little to no bankroll at all can enter affordable tournaments that can eventually propel them to center stage of the World Series of Poker. If that stage happens to be too big for you, you can always qualify for different events such as either of their trademark seasonal championship tournaments, the Aussie Millions, Caribbean Adventure or WSOP Europe. Any place PokerStars sends its players is truly stunning, and shouldn’t disappoint even the most worldly of travelers.

As hinted previously, because everyone can’t afford to relinquish thousands of dollars on buy-ins PokerStars provide a wide range of levels for everyone. Surprisingly, however, even at some of the lowest stakes you’ll find good tournament players because of the site’s strong penchant for multi-table events.

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PokerStars allows players to enter no buy-in events daily, weekly and monthly. Those who are fortunate enough to enter the highest VIP levels by playing real-money games will be invited to freeroll levels that you would think never existed. First depositor freeroll tournaments are beneficial, despite being full of eager players waiting to get their hands on free money just like you. However, with a little patience and skill, making your way past the bubble shouldn’t be too cumbersome overall.

In order to reach the upper boundary of freeroll stakes, you’ll need to have proven yourself worthy of such a reward. Those graciously referred to as “Supernovas,” or arguably the most sought after title amongst any VIP reward system in the world, have the chance to play in $1,000,000 freerolls. But you’ll need to work for it. If you’re not quite up for the challenge, you can always enter the daily $100 events to claim a smaller portion of a decent prize pool.

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While there’s a few remaining sites that trump the buy-in levels of PokerStars, these sites don’t have the luxury of having players that are capable of playing that level consistently. What’s the use of having $500/$1000 blinds if they’re rarely used? On PokerStars, the stakes begin at $1c/$2c and go up into the nosebleeds where players regularly play $200/$400 with normal buy-ins of $40,000. At this level you’ll begin to become familiar with screen names, because players don’t often wander into this field without adequate financial backing. The nosebleeds are where players such as Viktor “Isildur1” Blom started their careers, and maybe you could be the next challenger in his showdown!

Per request, seasoned and consistently successful players on the site have earned the ability to play at higher limits. While rare, PokerStars is willing to accommodate its most loyal counterparts in order to both keep them happy and generate further revenue. (This is done for higher stakes only.)

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Private Games

In a neat inclusion, PokerStars developed a new entity on their site, deemed “Home Games”. In what has easily been the most complete version of both private tournament and cash games thus far, Home Games has been successful in attracting a target demographic.

The software designed for use by anyone, but more intently players who prefer the familiarity of playing with neighborhood friends and colleagues rather than unknown characters. Because it’s much more amusing to dominate your close buddies, PokerStars helps you do so by providing multi-level options in terms of game type, number of players, passwords and stakes. Being able to connect with people around the globe has never been easier, and the reliability of PokerStars’ software gives incentive to ditch your old Friday night garage game and start one online. It’s more convenient and eliminates human error, something which frequently occurs in live games. Your buddies can continue to trash talk, drink, and make mistakes, but with Home Games you’ll benefit more efficiently!

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Compatible Operating Systems

PokerStars welcomes both Mac and Windows users to its site with downloadable versions for each platform.

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Deposit Bonuses and Player Rewards

Offering a generous 100% deposit bonus, up to $600, you’ll want to deposit and download immediately for a great return on investment. It’s very easy to accumulate you bonus, as you’ll earn increments of your deposit bonus as your begin to play real-money games. Depending on the stakes you’re playing, you’ll earn points are various speeds that will factor in to how fast your deposit bonus is unlocked.

Considering PokerStars’ overall rewards system; its one of the most highly-coveted. Rising through the ranks of bronze, silver, gold, platinum, supernova and supernova elite will never be more appealing, as most individuals are aware of the increased value at each level. Those who claim the status of Supernova Elite can buy luxury cars, such as the Porsche Cayenne, which up-and-coming online superstars like “DDbeast” have already laid claim to. Players such as Randy “nanonoko” Lew have earned their reputation and Supernova Elite status because of their ability to profitably mass multi-table at record-setting paces, and if you have the drive you could be in that category as well.

What’s nice about each level is that the details and benefits are laid out in Layman’s terms, so that even the average reader can comprehend. You’ll move up each rank through the accumulation of Frequent Player Points (FPPs), which are monitored in your account screen. Depending on your current rank and activity level, for every VIP point you earn through contributed rake or tournament fees you’ll gain a corresponding number of FPPs. As you hit certain points levels, you’ll be lifted into new statuses that will both elevate your reputation and bankroll!

The cash prizes and rewards are unbelievable, and even if you’re not obsessed with fancy items you’ll be enticed to look at their incredible selection. Even practical items such as a bigger computer monitors, cell phones, and PokerStars-branded clothing are accessible for the more modest spender. The options are endless!

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Deposits and Withdrawals

Visa, Mastercard, Debit, Bank Transfer, Wire Transfer, Moneybookers, uKash, Neteller and ClickandBuy are a few of the available methods. You can also request a check or wire transfer if you’re making a withdrawal.

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