PokerStars is the world’s leading online poker room. More people play on their site than in any other poker site on the internet. Unfortunately for Americans (assuming you’re visiting our site from this location today), after the dreaded Black Friday fiasco in 2011 that hit the poker world like a freight train, PokerStars was forced out of the US market. This PokerStars review aims to set the record straight on one of the best (let’s face it, it really is the BEST – and it’s not even close) sites to ever hit the internet.
Pokerstars todays caters to millions of players from around the world. They have literally been the #1 poker site in the world since their inception in 2001, having only faced competition from PartyPoker and 888 back in the pre-Black Friday days. Their success has still been phenomenal, a modern “dotcom” miracle when most people thought that the boom days of the internet had faded.
Unlike most of our reviews, we won’t emphasize specific bonuses being offered for new players – but in case you need to know before you make an account Pokerstars does indeed offer an industry-standard 100% bonus up to $600. What I love about the bonus is that it is one of the EASIEST bonuses to clear all of poker. On top of this amazing bonus though I will break down some of the other great features this poker juggernaut has to offer:
As of the beginning of 2017, PokerStars features an average of around 26,000 players online at peak hours – with a 7-day average of about 16,000 players that are grinding on the site. The huge popularity and unparalleled success means that you will never get bored waiting very long to find a game to play. The real money cash game play is always hovering at well over 12,000 players at ANY time during the day and night, with traffic increases hitting big-time over the weekends.
Software and Graphics
PokerStars is regularly updating their software with new features and games for its players. The game play is fairly smooth and responsive even when multi-tabling, and the games are easy to find using a filtering system in the lobby. It has the best interface on the planet, is Mac-compatible and is of course streamlined for play on your smartphone or tablet device.
Being such a popular poker room the server and software client can slowdown during peak times like when the site hosts the PokerStars Sunday Millions, but apart from that the software is efficient, reliable, and functional.
The software can be customized using a number of different table “themes”, and players have the ability to resize the tables, so grinders can take full advantage of playing at lots of tables. There is also a personalized avatar feature in the game that lets you upload a picture of you or your dog or whatever. Their search feature allows player to track players or multiple people at the same time.
PokerStars is one of the best sites to play small buy-in online poker tournaments. A particular feature of PokerStars is their $1.10 big field multi table tournaments with 9 players per table. There’s a choice of Stud and Omaha games as well as Texas Hold’em. An interesting thing that PokerStars does is the addition of an “ante” in the later rounds of a tournament, each player has to put money into the pot in every hand.
For example at the $200/$400 blinds the ante is $25, this can drain your money very quickly, especially if you’re on a low stack. So instead of the pot being $600 in this case it will be $825. It means that you can’t sit back and wait for the monster hands as often on PokerStars as you can on other sites, you need to play hands to stop your chips disappearing down the plug hole. Antes come into play a half hour into a turbo MTT on Stars.
Most of the “Guaranteed” games on PokerStars, ie a game where the house pays out a guaranteed amount in prizes, have unlimited rebuys before the first break. This means that the guaranteed amount is usually covered by contributions from the players and not PokerStars. This guaranteed amount can be quite a considerable prize pool, for example the $10 + $1 unlimited rebuy tournament has a $25,000 guarantee, with the prize pool usually raised even beyond that. with rebuys. This means that the top prize can be $8000+ with worthwhile winnings down to 80+ places.
At PokerStars, you can participate in plenty of freeroll tournaments, which are free to play. There are no requirements, other than to open a player’s account after downloading the PokerStar’s software client. There are freerolls for all of the popular poker games, including Texas Holdem, Omaha, and 7 Card Stud. In addition to the regular freerolls, you can also register in special freerolls from time to time for satellites to the World Series of Poker, and other major live poker tournaments.
PokerStars also runs weekly and monthly FPP freerolls. Instead of buying in for real money you can use Frequent Player Points ranging from 50-200 FPP, which is minuscule and can easily be accumulated by playing micro stakes ring games and tournaments. Everyone who plays in real money games is eligible to earn points to qualify for the FPP freerolls.
Of course, PokerStars freerolls aren’t just for the recreational player, if you’re a regular player playing in bigger real money games, you can receive a healthy boost to your bankroll courtesy of the VIP Club restricted freerolls. The monthly $100k freeroll occurs on the last Saturday of every month, which guarantees a first prize of $15k, and is open to Gold level members and above. You can find all the PokerSars freerolls listed in the games lobby under ‘Tourney’ & ‘Freeroll’ or ‘Tourney’ & ‘Regional’ section.
PokerStars heads-up cash games are very popular and come in a variety of formats and buy-in levels ranging from $0.25/$0.50 blinds and go up to a massive $5/$10 tables. Texas Hold’em is well represented of course with No Limit Hold’em, Pot Limit Hold’em, and Limit Hold’em all available. There are also heads-up poker play in Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo, Stud and Stud Hi/Lo.
Play begins just as soon as two players register to play which can make it a bit of a game of chicken at times with players not wanting to register in case they don’t get a challenger. Usually though, especially in the lower money games, there is an opponent almost as soon as the first player has registered.
Deposits can be done using Credit Cards, Neteller, Skrill, Western Union, echeck, Click2Pay, ClickandBuy, Instant Check, and Wire Transfer.
This dedicated online poker room has excellent security. In fact, there’s an explanation of how their random number generator functions on their official website, and this excerpt from their site confirms that they are 100% above board.
“In May 2003, PokerStars submitted extensive information about the PokerStars random number generator (RNG) to two independent organizations. We asked these two trusted resources to perform an in-depth analysis of the randomness of the output of the RNG, and its implementation in the shuffling of the cards on PokerStars. Both independent companies were given full access to the source code and confirmed the randomness and security of our shuffle.”
PokerStars is monitored securely around the clock by BMM International and Cigital Inc. – BMM are a leading independent testing agency and consulting practice, while Cigital are a leading software solution provider with clients including Visa and AOL among others.