Pokerstars Review 87

PokerStars is one of the best online poker sites in the world

PokerStars has made huge strides in popularizing poker with their massive advertising budgets, celebrity endorsements, and the largest player pool in the world. Featuring the biggest guaranteed prize money tournaments available, Stars are known for their solid reputation, wide selection of poker games, and the highest traffic of all poker sites. They are simply the gold standard of poker. When you reference a different poker site, you will instantly compare it to Stars.

What kind of bonuses does PokerStars offer?

The best and most reliable poker bonus that Stars offers is the 100% deposit match bonus. Up to your first three deposits within 60 days can be matched up to 100% by playing real money poker during the four month period after each qualifying deposit. If you are worried about not getting enough volume, make your second or third deposit at the end of the 60 day period to maximize the time that you will have to achieve the bonus requirements.

How does it work? Depending on your currency, the deposit bonus will max out at 600 USD, 600 CAD, 500 EUR, or 400 GBP. The bonus is unlocked using the VPP system. These are Player Points that you unlock by paying rake. For the Euro bonus, you unlock 10EUR for every 250 VPPs that you earn.

If you do not want to use this bonus, they also have the “Free $20” promotion. This requires a deposit of $20, and then you get a free $20 bonus within 36 hours. You also get 1M in play money chips in case you bust out!

They are constantly offering new promotions for first time depositors and for existing players, so check their promotions page before making a deposit.

Game difficulty

While they have the best software and offers the cleanest playing experience, if your main concern is making money then you might be better suited to playing on smaller sites and taking advantage of their signup bonuses. The fact is, even at the low stakes there are going to be many players who have worked out detailed poker strategy to take money from new players and beginners. Stars has the toughest games at all stakes.

 

What poker games does PokerStars offer?

They offer a wide selection of game formats, including Multi-Table Tournaments, Sit and Go’s, Cash Games, and a new and exciting format called Spin and Go’s. Texas Hold’em is the most popular form of poker, and there is constant traffic even during non-peak hours. Omaha, 2-7 Triple Draw, Triple Stud, and Seven Card Stud run, with Stars boasting a large enough player pool to keep even these less popular games going. Recently there have been mixed games played with the biggest pros including Daniel Negreanu with 1k/2k blinds!

No Limit Texas Hold’em games are found in different varieties such as standard stack, short stack and deep stack. Short stacks usually have buy-ins that range between 25 to 50 big blinds, 40-100 big blinds for standard game stacks and 100-250 for deep stack games.

Sit and Go’s are tournaments that run as soon as a set amount of players register. SnGs range from Heads-Up tournaments to 180 person affairs. The buy-ins are offered from micro stakes to thousands of dollars. The standards formats are 2, 4, 6, 9, 18, 27, 45, 90, and 180 players, and the speed of the games are standard, turbo, and super-turbo. Standard games have the blinds increasing slower, with hyper-turbos quickly becoming a shove fest where professional players can maintain a thin but valuable edge over the competition.

Million of dollars in prize money

This is where Stars shine. They are unparalleled in terms of multi-table tournaments. At the time that I wrote this article, they are offering $1 million dollar freeroll tournaments! The weekend tournaments have life changing prize money guarantees, with the Sunday Million offering a million dollar prize pool every week for a $215 entrance fee. The best in the world compete against solid recreational players to take down the highest buy-in tournaments, with everyone drawn by the lure of big money and the glory of a first place finish.

Have you ever watched the World Series of Poker? Stars offers the online equivalent.The World Championship of Online Poker has massive guaranteed prize money, a 10M dollar prize pool main event, and winners receive coveted WCOOP bracelets. The winner of the main event is guaranteed at least $1.5 Million!

Spin and Go’s offer the thrills of big jackpots

One of their latest innovations is the new game type called Spin and Go’s. Fast paced, exciting, and with the highest variance of any form of poker, Spin and Go’s have made millionaires out of players. The format is simple. Let’s take the $3 Spin and Go, for example. You buy in for $3, and are matched at a table with two other players. The prize is randomly generated, with the most common prize being double your buy-in and a grand prize of $30,000. Unless you hit the jackpot, it is winner take all for the prize. The blinds go up quickly, and you need to have a good understanding of push fold strategy and be able to quickly adjust to your opponents, because in five minutes the game is going to be over!

Spin and Go’s have the highest concentration of recreational players compared to professionals. Te lure of the jackpots is like playing slots or the lottery every time you enter a game. Even if the chances of getting a grand prize are very low, the dream of winning massive sums draws people in. Spin and Go’s are incredibly high variance which makes it difficult for pros to grind. They have a huge luck factor. For a player who is relying on poker to pay his or her rent every month, the massive swings in money that Spin and Go’s bring can be devastating. You need to have a massive bankroll and a mind of steel to become a pro spins player. Often, pro players join “stables”, where they have backers who help cover their losses in return for taking a hefty chunk of their profits.

pokerstars-spin-and-go-review

Does PokerStars have play money tables?

Absolutely. While we do not recommend play money except for the most beginner of players because it can teach you some bad habits, play money tables are useful for people who have never played online before or who are not yet comfortable with poker rules. You can reload your play money up to 1,000 three times an hour. This leads to the games being full of people who shove all in, bust out, and rebuy, hoping to build up a big stack.

Which HUDs are allowed?

All of the major HUDs work with with the site. You have probable heard of the poker tools Hold’em Manager and Pokertracker 4 (If you haven’t, click on the links and read our reviews), but you may not have heard of Jivaro. Unlike the aforementioned HUDs, Jivaro offers a basic version completely free and a premium version for a monthly fee. The free version is perfect for beginner players. It shows you the three most important stats that a HUD can give you. Shown below is a play money table where I have played 9 hands with my opponent. In those 9 hands, the player has limped or called 67% of them, and never raised. Once you have about 100 hands on a player, you can get a great picture of what kind of player that they are – someone with a VPIP of 6 and a PFR of 4 is a massive NIT, playing only the very best hands. VPIP of 80 and PFR of 10? A player who just wants to see as many flops as they can, and probably very passive until they get a massive hand.

pokerstars-play-money-and-free-hud-review

Does PokerStars offer rakeback?

Rakeback describes loyalty programs offer by poker sites to give a percentage of the rake taken from a player back to the player. It is an incentive to play more hands. The more poker you play, the more rake you pay to the house. Third parties are not allowed to offer rakeback for this site. The rakeback is offered in a VIP system where you unlock different tiers of rewards by playing hands and earning VPPS.

Recently rakeback has been capped to 30%. This is one of the only areas that other sites are able to do better, with some other poker sites offering up to 60% rakeback. Here’s the deal though: if you are an amateur or new player, the changes to rakeback will have little to no effect on you. The higher levels of rakeback were reserved for people who could put an insane amount of volume in, and unless you are playing multiple tables for hours everyday it is unlikely you ever would have had a chance at these upper tiers.

How does the PokerStars VIP program work?

Everyone starts at BronzeStar. To unlock higher levels, you need to earn VPPs, which are awarded for the amount of rake you pay. As you unlock levels, you unlock higher rakeback and entrance to high guarantee tournaments.

You can redeem StarsCoins for MTT or SnG tickets, or cold, hard cash. For every 10,000 StarsCoins you redeem, you earn $100. If you are playing the microstakes in euros, for example, you would earn 12 StarsCoins for every EUR in rake paid at the €0.01/€0.02 tables, 10 at the €0.02/€0.05 level, and 9 at the €0.05/€0.10 level.

The system is a little complicated, so pay attention. The tiers are as follows: Bronzestar, ChromeStar, SilverStar, GoldStar, PlatinumStar, and Supernova.

Bronzestar: 8-9% in rakeback. To move up, you need to complete 20 steps of 5VPPs each. Grants access to the $2,500 guaranteed Saturday tournament, except on the last Saturday of the month where they bump the prize pool up to $5,000.

ChromeStar: 12-16% rakeback. To move up, you need to complete 25 steps of 20VPPs each. Every month, you need to complete 5 steps to maintain your status: or you are booted down to BronzeStar and have to start at the bottom again. Unlocks the $10,000 ChromeStar Saturday tournament, which is completely free. On the last Saturday of the month they double the prizepool to $20,000.

SilverStar: 15-20% rakeback. To move up, you need to complete 25 steps of 100VPPs each. Every month, you need to complete 5 steps to maintain your status. Once you get this level, you can play all of the tournaments listed above and an additional $30,000GT on the last Saturday of the month, completely free.

GoldStar: 18 – 25% rakeback. To move up, you need to complete 30 steps of 250VPPs each. Every month, you need to complete 10 steps to maintain your status. Here is where it starts to get serious in terms of rakeback and rewards offered. Every month, you can play the $100,000GT event completely free.

PlatinumStar: 22-25% rakeback. To move up, you need to complete 110 steps of 500 – 1000VPPs each. Every month, you need to complete 15 steps to maintain your status. No new tournaments are offered at this level, but you can redeem your StarsCoins to enter live events all over the world.

Supernova: 28 – 30% rakeback. This is the only level which is earned for a year, not a month. To maintain it you need to earn 100 steps of 1,000VPPs.

If you do not want to redeem your StarsCoins for cash to get a concrete rakeback percentage, you can use them for tournament tickets and merchandise.

What happened to Supernova Elite?

They used to have an even higher tier, Supernova Elite. They cut it without warning, and also decreased some of the higher tier rewards without consulting the player base. This affected the earnings that professional players received, and is a blemish on their reputation as the most reliable and trustworthy poker site. Among professional poker players, this was seen as a betrayal by the site. These changes will not affect you as a new player. In fact, the direction be taken by management is to appeal more to novice and recreational players who are just starting out playing poker.

Should I play on PokerStars?

Pros: Trustworthy, with a wide player base and the best software on the market. Cons: also the toughest site in terms of the skill level of players at the low stakes.

You will be playing against multi-tabling grinders in lower income countries who can earn a living wage by eeking out just a few USD an hour. If you want easy games, stick to smaller sites.

MTTs are where they really shine. Even at the micro buy-in level, they offer massive prize pool guarantees. See that top tournament on the list, the Saturday Micro $20k GT? The 1st place player received $3,267.37USD for an investment of just $3.30. Talk about an awesome payday.

Pokerstars MTTs review

Is it easy to deposit on PokerStars?

They are the most reliable and easy to use non-government poker site, and as such depositing and withdrawing is a breeze. They only service legal markets, and have a reputation to uphold. You can deposit and withdraw with  Visa, Paypal, Srill, Neteller, prepaid card, Ukash and many more options. However, check with your Visa provider before making a deposit. Some cards have restrictions on online gambling, and will block your transaction.

Conclusion

Reliable, with the best software and the largest player pools of all sites. However, this comes with a catch, with the lower stakes cash games being the toughest of all sites. For players who wish to learn cash, we recommend that you try out a smaller site with an easier player pool. For those who wish to try Spin and Go’s and MTTs, PokerStars has the best selection and the biggest prize pools. It is easy to deposit, has a good first time deposit match, and is simply the biggest and best site around. If you want to play poker online, this site is a safe bet.

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