Newest Review: ... to the left of the dealer places the 'small blind' and the player next to him places the 'big blind'. In a '$1/$2' game, the $1 and $2 d... more
No jokers at Pokers(tars)
Member Name: kojak123
Advantages: Biggest and best! Insane levels of security and probably the most trusted site around.
Disadvantages: Easy to get carried away.
One of my indulgences in life is poker.
Not a vice you understand, I am quite aware that it isn't a way to 'get rich quick' and i play well within my limits, usually with less than a tenner on the table just for the enjoyment of the game. This is a hobby. The money I wager is already written off mentally so when I do have a nice win it's just a nice bonus.
I've played for around 6 or 7 years now and get along ok. While I find that the live game is much more intense - face to face with your opponent armed with nothing but your wits and a stack of clay chips (or a pile of banknotes, but not at the low stakes I play I assure you!), the online game is almost as good and there are now dozens of poker sites vying for market share.
Pokerstars is considered to be one of the originals, and certainly the most popular.
Established in South America in 2001, 'Stars quickly grew to be the site that players of all stakes were drawn to. In the early days it was in fierce competition with Party Poker, who sponsored the popular TV show 'Late Night Poker' and were easily the best known site due to TV coverage.
While PP was a favourite with new players to the game, Pokerstars had a much better following with the seasoned players and high stakes thrill seekers due to the volume and variety of games.
The company is now based in the Isle Of Man (probably for tax reasons, but who am I to speculate!)
At the last count, Pokerstars had well over 50,000,000 registered players worldwide (almost the population of Britain!) and has dealt almost 90 BILLION real money hands!
Pokerstars cash games are probably the best online. Log in any time of the day or night and you'll find anything from 100,000 to half a million players signed in!
Games very from the hugely popular No Limit Hold 'Em, which re-started the poker boom of the nineties's and noughties, to lesser played games such as Omaha, Stud and Draw and even encompassing mixed games such as HORSE (a level each of Hold 'Em, Omaha, Razz, 7 Card Stud and Stud hi/lo).
Buy-in amounts range from 'micro-stakes' where players can sit down with as little as 0.80c and play 0.01c/0.02c blinds*, to what the regulars call 'nosebleed' stakes where literally hundreds of thousands of dollars cross the felt on a daily basis at blind levels* as high as $1000/$2000!
There is no time limit or cashout restrictions in the real money games. You may sit in for a couple of hands or play for hours, and if the money you brought to the table runs out you may re-load as many times as you like through the cashier. Personally I only buy in once and usually leave the table once I've doubled up, starting another table with my original buy-in.
The cash tables are great fun, and a game can be found 24 hours a day at almost any stakes you wish to wager. Tables range from 2 seat 'heads up' games where it's one on one action, but 6 seat (shorthanded) tables and 9 seat (full ring) tables make up the majority of the games.
*Blinds are the forced bets designed to start the betting action in the game.
The 'dealer' position moves one place clockwise round the table each new hand.
The player immediately to the left of the dealer places the 'small blind' and the player next to him places the 'big blind'.
In a '$1/$2' game, the $1 and $2 denotes the small and big blinds.
After the big blind is placed, the rest of the players must wager at least this amount (or may 'raise' by betting more money) to remain in the hand. Otherwise they must 'fold' and forfeit their cards.
SIT & GO:
These games are good if you're in a hurry. A sit and go game basically means that it's a set buy in and a set amount of seats. For example, a game might cost $1 to buy into and have 9 seats. As soon as 9 players register, you're seated with a set amount of chips (usually 1500) and the game runs until one player holds all of the chips!
How many seats the game has decides the payout structure. Usually in a 9 seat game there will be 3 paid places, with half of the prize pool going to the winner and the other half split between 2nd and 3rd place.
Once again, there are dozens of different games to choose from. By far the most popular are the mid-stakes ($15 or so) No Limit Hold Em games, but buy-ins are available as low as a few cents and all the way up to thousands of dollars.
MTT'S (Multi Table Tournaments):
Clearly what sets 'Stars apart from the rest are their amazing selection of multi table tourneys. Same principle as the Sit and Go, but instead of a set amount of players these games have unlimited fields, with potentially thousands of players buying in before the start.
There are games kicking off every few minutes with buy-ins to suit every pocket, but my very favourite are the 'guarantees'.
All that means is that regardless of how many players buy in, Pokerstars guarantee a set prize pool. For example there is a $1 game which guarantees $50,000 in prizes even if it doesn't have 50,000 players - Pokerstars supply the shortfall.
There are some superb series' on the site as well. A couple of times a year we are treated to the WCOOP (world championship of online poker) with some truly staggering prizes up for grabs.
Sadly, the buy-ins are often eye watering, meaning I've only played in a couple when I've managed to satellite my way in (explained in the next section).
Luckily for us low stakes players they have recently launched 'MicroMillions', a great tournament series comprised of 100 events played over 12 days which allows for low buy-ins but huge prizes. The highest entry fee is $22 (£15ish) and the prize pool for that game is $1,000,000!
Of course the fields are much larger, but it gives us little people a shot at the big-time.
To simply explain Satellites, these are low stakes games which act as filters into large games.
So a $100 big money game might have a satellite with ten $10 seats. Instead of winning cash, the winner of the $10 event will take a $100 ticket to the main event.
These games have always been popular, but never more so than 2003 when an amateur Pokerstars player won a $40 satellite, gained entry into a larger $90 satellite and won that one too putting him in a $500 satellite to play in the World Series Of Poker main event.
He won the ticket and went off to Vegas all-expenses paid with a seat in the $10,000 No Limit Hold 'Em main event to play against a field of nearly 1000 seasoned professionals.
Oh, and he won that too! A payday of slightly over $2.5 MILLION for a $40 investment.
His name was Chris Moneymaker...you just couldn't make it up!
One of my biggest concerns was cheating to be honest. Luckily Pokerstars have some pretty clever software to track collusion, so if two players consistently play at the same tables but avoid confrontations with each other, or use betting patterns designed to draw other players into the pot, the software red-flags them and their accounts will be closed if there is even a remote suspicion that they are defrauding other players.
There are strict regulations regarding the random generator and card shuffle facility of course, and Pokerstars use the most trusted available. The servers are some of the most secure on the planet, using 1024 bit encryption software (running random number generators impossible to externally hack) and similar client software coded to 512 bit encryption.
One or two of the poker sites of old have been hacked and programmed to favour specific players - if that happens once trust is lost forever, so 'Stars have made sure they're not susceptible!
Internally, Pokerstars have nothing to gain by cheating players.
In casino games if you lose then the house (or website) wins. In poker, the cash is passed between the players so the 'house' has nothing to gain.
They make their money by taking a 'rake' from the game. Usually when a cash pot reaches $1, Pokerstars will take a small percentage (usually 1% or 2%) and that is their fee for running the game.
In Sit And Go and MTT games there is a small fee built in to the entrance cost.
A $75 game might have $70 going to the prize pool and $5 being your entrance fee, Pokerstars profit.
At times I do feel as though someone has flipped my 'doom switch' when I can't seem to win a single hand, but to be honest all players will experience runs of good and bad luck - it's just common variance.
My best experiences of Pokerstars have been playing 'hobby poker'. By that I mean loading up a small amount of money and playing affordable stakes for FUN. A lot of people get carried away and play for sums of money they can't afford to lose. I'd be lying if I said I'd never put myself in that position before now, but that totally sucks the fun out of the experience.
I play for enjoyment, not to get rich, so I now have limits imposed in case I ever let my imagination run away with me and find my finger hovering over the buy-in button for a three figure tournament!
Setting deposit/staking limits is easy enough to do, Pokerstars fully understand that some players are vunerable to compulsive gamblers and others (like me) just get hung up in the moment from time to time.
For newcomers to the game, 'Stars run a training academy. Full descriptions of games with written and video tutorials are available, and when you feel ready there are a range of challenges posed for which you can earn extra money for your bankroll.
They also run a series of 'freerolls' - tournaments with a low prizepool but no entrance fee. These attract thousands of players and often require hours of play for a tiny reward, but they are fantastic training for new players who fancy a real money game without actually having to stake any of their own money.
Regular players can earn 'player points'. This is directly connected to 'rake' (mentioned above somewhere). I am a silverstar VIP (2nd tier from bottom) so for every dollar I pay in rake I receive 7.5 player points to spend in the Pokerstars shop or use for tournament buy-ins.
I've racked up a few thousand before and bought small items, but to give you some scale a deck of cards costs almost 1000pp's and a Porsche Cayenne is the most expensive item at 3,000,000 points!
Takes some doing to earn those points, but they've given 7 Porsches away so far!
As a bit of fun, I would recommend Pokerstars to anyone. I've been a member for years and had lots of enjoyment out of it. Despite being a mid level low stakes player I have achieved some good results, even a couple of 4 figure wins.
In fact, I'd estimate that overall I'm not far from break even - maybe a couple of hundred quid down over 5 years which is pretty good going. If I can do that then anyone can, because I'm fairly mediocre!
The cash I've spent I attribute to entertainment value rather than gambling losses to be honest. If I lose a tenner over a night I just imagine that it's what I would have spent on a DVD instead.
I love the rush of the game.
Poker is (to my knowledge) the only professional game where an amateur can sit next to a seasoned veteran of the game and still have a shot at winning.
Money is the great equaliser - if you have the capital you can buy into the World Series and sit next to players like Daniel Negreanu or Phil Hellmuth and shoot the breeze while competing at top level Poker. That is basically like being able to buy a place in the FA Cup final and standing shoulder to shoulder with the worlds best footballers and I find that amazing!
To anyone who already plays poker, Pokerstars is a must! The selection of games is simply unrivaled on any other site. The only one which came close was Full Tilt Poker which closed its doors in the summer of 2011. And wouldn't you know it, Pokerstars have just bought it out (debts and all) and plan to relaunch this month!
Poker is still slightly looked down on by those who don't understand the intricacies of the game.
Yes it's technically gambling, but it's a game of luck mixed with a lot of skill. Anyone with a good head for mathematics and especially odds should be a winner long-term, but luck will always play a huge part in this game.
The luck aspect keeps the inexperienced players coming back, but the skilled players will always get their money in the end!
Top site. If you're looking for an introduction to poker, an intermediate game or a seat with the professionals, Pokerstars has it all!
Summary: The best Poker site online for my money.