PokerStars is an official poker site. PokerStars bonus code, review, test, offers, download, tournaments: here is all you need to know about PokerStars!
Why choose PokerStars?
- Largest online tournaments
- Tremendous amount of software functionalities
- Wide range of goods in the store
- Sit & Go with 1000 players
- Home Games
- Spin & go
- User interface a bit dense
Founded in 2001, PokerStars is one of the oldest online poker rooms in operation. In less than a decade since its inception, PokerStars dominated the online poker landscape by sponsoring well-known pros and celebrities and branching out into a successful international live tournament circuit. Whether you prefer the comforts of online poker, or want to play against world-class pros in exotic locales, PokerStars has become the industry leader in both online and live play.
PokerStars could be considered a dinosaur because of how long they've been around compared to their competitors. But dinosaur is an incorrect term because a dinosaur indicates a giant beast that is extinct. On the contrary, PokerStars is thriving and as strong as it has ever been. PokerStars evolved into an international brand. Its red-spade logo is recognizable in the farthest corners of their globe.
But it's not just clever marketing. As an online gaming company PokerStars is well-respected among their industry peers. Their customer service is top notch and their high-performance software is extremely reliable and stable.
PokerStars offers games for players with bankrolls of any size with games ranging from micro stakes to high-stakes $200/$400 NL tables. Because of its high volume of players and a constant flow of new players joining the mix, there's a healthy ecosystem. You don't have to be an elite player to consistently win against the general population on PokerStars.
PokerStars also has the reputation for running the best daily and weekly tournaments. PokerStars dominates Sundays with their Sunday Million tournament, which boasts a $1 million guaranteed prize pool.
PokerStars is also popular among amateurs and pros because of their VIP loyalty program, which ranks among the best in the industry.
One of the benefits of starting over a decade ago is that PokerStars ironed out all the bugs and kinks that many new sites struggle with shortly after their initial launch. PokerStars already survived their growing pains so you're joining a site that has become a well-oiled machine.
PokerStars took a minimalist approach to almost every aspect of the player experience. Along the way PokerStars created several innovations, such as synchronized tournament breaks, that have become an industry-wide standard. PokerStars has become a player-friendly site. Every newly added feature was created to enhance the player experience--from four-color decks, to allowing players to choose their own background themes, to creating software for mobile devices.
The basic layout of each table is stripped down, but its simplicity works.
PLAYERS: The user name (or screen name) and chip amount are on a black background and separated by a white line. A circular avatar is attached to the name/chip box. One of the unique things about PokerStars is that they allow you to upload your own avatar (so long as it is not deemed offensive and passes the censors). If you prefer to not look at the avatars, players have the opportunity to block or turn off individual avatars.
TABLES: PokerStars offers 20 different style options including their original “classic” table. You can choose the color of the felt, or even the texture of the background. You can also create your own table image, but it will still include the PokerStars logo.
CARDS: PokerStars allows players to choose from three different types of cards: traditional, simplified, or four-colored. The traditional deck is what we are used to with two colors of suits, and a simplified deck is a very basic design. PokerStars also allows players to select an innovative four-colored deck. Some high-volume multi-table players prefer four-color decks for quicker pattern recognition and minimizing any potential misread suits.
CHIPS: The graphics are rudimentary and have not changed much since its initial design.
BUTTONS: Clearly labeled. You can type in chip amounts, or use a slide function. You can also choose to make automatic bets like MIN, ½ (POT), POT, and MAX.
TABLE RESIZING: Each table has the ability to be extended (to accommodate 30-inch computer displays), but it can also be reduced to 8x smaller, which benefits multi-tabling players.
Cash Games Lobby
One of the biggest complaints about PokerStars has to do with the minimalist layout of the different lobbies. The simple lobby was described by one industry insider as “dull and monochrome.” Sometimes it's difficult to delineate different columns, but users have the option to choose different lobby filters and preferences to help minimize the clutter.
Another common complaint about PokerStars is the all-encompassing main tournament lobby. It can be intimidating for new users unless you use specific filters or know what the different colored text means. But even advanced users find it difficult to locate a specific tournament.
PokerStars added icons to help minimize the confusion. PokerStars finally added a search bar so you can type in the specific tournament ID you are seeking.
Tournaments are broken down into sub-categories: VIP, Regular, Satellite, Special Freeroll, Regional, and Private. Even the sub-lobbies can be cluttered, so users must take advantage of the filter to show registering/ upcoming events only. The format filter is helpful if you only play a specific game, table size, or a set range of stakes.
The alert sounds for PokerStars are so distinct that a regular player can easily recognize the sound that reminds you it's your turn to act. Each sound is distinct from each other, so players will have no problems discerning the meaning of each.
- NEW HAND: PokerStars added a sound similar to cards swooshing on a table to indicate that a new hand is being dealt.
- CHECK: This sound is more like a soft prompt.
- BET: Whenever a player bets, the sound resembles the clanging of chips being added to a pot.
- REMINDER: The alert sound to remind you it is your turn to act is a sharp, curt beep.
- TIME ALMOST GONE: This is the panic sound and a loud beep that lets players know that must act immediately or their hand is folded.
Overall the software is denser than the average online poker room. There's so many functions that individuals really have to explore on their own. If there's a downside, it's that there's too much detail and too much to offer that the multitude of choices can overwhelm the user.
The CASHIER button is clearly defined in the bottom right hand corner of the front lobby.
Cash Games Lobby
The lobby for cash games can be confusing, but the tabs are clearly labeled. You have options to sort through the tables by choosing your level of stakes. PokerStars offers filters, which will reduce the clutter and create a quicker navigation.
TABLE: Some of the table names originate from ancient Greek and Roman mythology. If a PokerStars Team Pro or Team Online is seated at table, a red spade icon will appear before the table name.
STAKES and LIMIT: Nosebleeds are capped at $200/$400 NL and PLO, while micro-stakes start as low as a penny or $0.01.
TYPE: Users have the option to play normal speed or ZOOM. There are also full-ring, short-handed 6-max tables, heads-up tables, and deep-stacked options. Heads-up tables are marked with a red #2 icon, while 6-max tables are designated with a green #6 icon.
WAIT: The number of players on the waiting list are posted (their screen names will appear in the side bar along with a table graphic of seated players and their chip counts).
AVG POT: This column allows users to determine which tables are playing the biggest pots.
PLAYERS/FLOP and HANDS/HOUR: Users can pick their tables based on the percentage of players per flop and how many hands per hour are dealt. In short, users can seek out the juiciest tables, or avoid the slowest-moving tables.
Sit & Go Lobby
Sit-N-Goes are the bread and butter of online poker tournaments. With every lobby on PokerStars, users can customize their experience by using the filter options to help minimize the clutter.
This main SNG lobby lists every single SNG that is currently running and registered. The sub-lobbies include: ALL, 1-TABLE, MULTI-TABLE, HEADS-UP, SATTELITE, and PLAY MONEY. PokerStars originated the 180-person multi-table SNG, which is essentially an on-demand 20-table tournament.
Each different form of SNG is broken down into sub-categories based on stakes and speed: HIGH ($100-$5,000), MEDIUM ($30-60), LOW ($5-15), MICRO ($0.50-$3.50), TURBO, and HYPER.
The main SNG lobby allows users to see every SNG that is running and registering.
GAME and LIMIT: Users have the option to selection SNGS based on the game including Hold'em (Limit, PL, and NL), Omaha (NL, PL, Hi/Low, and 5-Card Omaha) and Stud variants (Stud, Razz, and Stud Hi/Lo), plus mixed games (8-Game, Mixed Hold'em, HORSE) and alternative games including Courchevel, Courchevel Hi/Lo, Badugi, 2-7 Triple Draw, 5-Card Draw, and Triple Stud.
BUY-IN: Users have the option to select their buy-in ranging from $0.50 to $5,000 depending on the game.
SPEED: Users have the option to select the speed of play: regular, Turbo, or Hyper. Turbo SNGs start with 1,500 chips but with 5-minute levels, while Hyper SNGs start with 500 chips and 2-minute levels.
TYPE: SNGs also have a specific type including Fifty50 (ends when half the field is eliminated) and Knockout (bounties collected per knockout).
STATE: Simply explains the status of a tournament: Registering, Running, or Completed
ENROLLED: This column displays if an SNG is full or how many empty seats are remaining.
When you click on the actual tournament link, you will be taken to the individual tournament lobby. The lobby front page contains all the information pertaining to that specific tournament, including a clearly-labeled buy-in and format.
START TIME: Lists when the event commenced and how long it is running.
LEVEL: Lists the current level number and the specific blinds/betting limits.
NEXT LEVEL: Lists the blinds for the upcoming level and time remaining before blinds go up.
ENTRANTS: Lists the number of runners.
STACKS: largest, smallest, and average
PRIZE POOL: The total prize pool is listed and any additional payout info is included (like knockout bounties and re-buys). The number of places paid out is listed, along with specific payout amounts.
TOURNAMENT INFO: Clicking on this button will provide a specific breakdown of the tournament including a blind structure and a payout schedule, in addition to listing the length of late registration (if allowable).
The remainder of the SNG lobby consists of a column that includes every player in the tournament. Users can search based on tournament rank (or elimination number) and current chip count. Users can also search individual tables which lists the number of players at each table along with the amount of the big and short stack.
Users have the unique experience to customize the table to fit their personality. Users control everything from what the back of the down cards look like to uploading their own background image. Users have a favorite seat option, which allows players to select their seats and choose where they appear on the table layout.
At the top of the table layout appear clearly defined buttons that will allow the user to view the lobby or leave the table. Each player and avatar are clearly labeled and the community cards appear in the middle of the screen.
The bottom window on the left hand side contains the chat box, info stats and ability to take notes. Above the chat window are a couple of boxes that allow you to quick fold or fold to any bet, and the option to automatically sit out when it's your next big blind.
The bottom right hand side of the table screen is where the betting action buttons are located. You can type in chip amounts, or use a slide function. You can also choose to make automatic bets like MIN, ½ (POT), POT, and MAX.
Other functions of note:
HAND: Clicking on the static hand history link will show you the current hand (upon its completion).
PREVIOUS HAND: This link will automatically take you to the hand history for the previous hand.
TABLE: The table is in the middle with each player and avatar clearly labeled.
ADD MORE CHIPS: Self-explanatory and a button that users hope they will not have to use often.
INSTANT HAND HISTORY: Users can access an instant hand history for the previous hand and other hands at that table.
EMAIL HAND HISTORY: Users can ask PokerStars to email them all of their hand histories.
REQUEST STATISTICS: Users can ask PokerStars to send them a run down on their stats.
TABLE THEMES: Allows users to alter the appearance of the table.
DEALER MESSAGES: Users can opt out of dealer messages, or include everything or just normal chatter.
SHOW MESSAGES: Users can opt out whether or not they view opposing player messages or what appears on the virtual rail in the chat box. That option is handy whenever there are unruly railbirds clogging up the chat box.
From a tech standpoint, PokerStars software is low frills, but reliable.
DISTRIBUTION PLATFORMS: PokerStars is available for both PC (Windows) and Mac. PokerStars recently launched mobile gaming accessibility, so users can play on their smartphones and tablets.
TRACKERS: The two main tracking software programs – Hold'em Manager and Poker Tracker – are both compatible with PokerStars.
Sit & go
Sit & Go tournaments are one of the most popular formats on PokerStars. They are seated on a first come, first served basis. Plus, they fill up fast. Buy-ins cater to both micro-limits ($0.50) and high-stakes regulars ($5,000). PokerStars offers Sit & Go (SNGs) ranging from heads-up 2-player SNGs to 90-person SNGs. Various formats are offered including knockout, turbo, hyper and shootout.
PokerStars is a tournament-friendly poker room and their vast tournament schedule makes them one of the most popular rooms, especially for Sunday grinders. The Sunday Million has a buy-in of $215 and a guaranteed prize pool of $1 million. It's not uncommon to see first place win approximately $200,000. PokerStars dominates Sundays with other events as well including the Sunday Warm-Up ($215 buy-in, $500,000 guarantee), $109+R Sunday Rebuy ($109 buy-in, $175,000 Guarantee), Sunday Storm ($11 buy-in, $250,000 guarantee), Sunday 500 ($530 buy-in, $250,000 guarantee), and Second Chance ($215 buy-in, $175,000 guarantee). There's even a women-only tournament –the Women's Sunday ($55 buy-in, $11,000 guarantee).
Cash game rake
PokerStars adheres to the “no flop, no drop” rule of raking pots meaning if a hand is won without a flop dealt, then the hand is not raked. The rake is anywhere from 3.5% to 4.5% depending on the stakes. Low-stakes games are raked at 3.5% to 4.15%, mid-stakes and high-stakes at 4.5%. Depending on the betting limits, there are max-rakes for heads-up (ranging from $0.30 to $2.00, short-handed, and full ring. For example, micro-limits ($0.01/$0.02) tables will never rake more than $0.30 per pot. Whereas for $100/$200 stakes, a max of $5 is raked per pot. Please note, that there is a different rake structure for pot-limit games and limit games.
PokerStars allows its members to host private “home games”, a virtual version of a typical poker night with friends. Home Games gives a group of friends the option to play cash games and/or a tournament. Of course, Home Games are “invite only”, which means you can select which friends get to join in on the fun.
PokerStars has 4 major international circuits including the European Poker Tour, Latin America Poker Tour, Asia-Pacific Poker Tour, and Australia-New Zealand Poker Tour. PokerStars also hosts seven regional and national series: United Kingdom/Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT), France Poker Series, Italian Poker Tour, Portugal Poker Series, Eureka Poker Tour, Estrellas Poker Tour, and Belgium Poker Series.
Communication, marketing and adverting
- Slogan: "Find the Poker Star in you." Simple and to the point. Anyone can become the next big star.
- Record Breaking: Every week it seems that PokerStars is breaking a new record in site-wide traffic, prize pools in a tournament series, or smashing records on the live circuit. Most of the time it seems that PokerStars is breaking a record that they had previously set.
- Team Online: PokerStars one of the first major online rooms to make a big push to promote their online pros.
- TV Presence: International circuits are aired on TV stations around the globe. PokerStars commercials all have a similar style and the majority of them star at least one of their Team Pros and other celebrity endorsers.
- Sporting World Meets Poker: PokerStars hand picks professional athletes that have international appeal and carry themselves as the perfect poker ambassador like tennis superstar Rafael Nadal and football legend Ronaldo.
Conclusion on Pokerstars
PokerStars is an excellent room, despite some of its minor flaws. There's a reason why PokerStars is one of the biggest and most successful poker rooms. They provide a reliable and safe service, but at the same time, they cater to both amateurs and professionals alike. The traffic is always huge, game selection is vast and tournament prize pools are among the richest on the internet. Their simple slogan is "Find the poker star in you", which certainly rings true.