PokerStars Comprehensive Poker Site Review

PokerStars

Updated: 10/16/2006

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Address http://www.pokerstars.com
Support support@pokerstars.com 
Phone NA 
Two Rags traffic rank 1st 
Online since 2000 


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Click here for Player Comments
Lobby Table Website
     
  QuickLinks
Our quick thoughts What we didn't like For the tournament player MTT summary Software Poker tracker
Overview Why you should play the site For the value player SnG summary Hand histories Player comments
What we liked For the ring game player Insider tips Ring game activity Lobby view  
  Our quick thoughts
PokerStars bills itself as a training ground for WSOP champions with good reason. The site offers the best multi-table tournaments (MTTs) on the net and runs regular satellites for many tour and televised events. The 2003 and 2004 WSOP champions (Moneymaker and Raymer) qualified on PokerStars; in 2005, 'Stars sent 1116 qualifiers to the WSOP (almost 20% of the field), over 100 of whom placed in the money. But it's more than abundance of ring games and tournaments which make this one of our favorite sites. PokerStars is committed to providing a first-rate playing experience, and it shows. The superb software is fast and reliable with all the features you need, and the customer support was the most friendly, responsive and knowledgeable of any site we reviewed. There's no sign-up bonus, but we still have to recommend 'Stars as a must-play site for serious and recreational players. 
  Overview
Note: traffic estimates are observed data circa Jan 06 unless otherwise noted
Ring Games
  # of players % of total
Limit 2 500  35% 
No limit (NL) 3 700  52% 
Other
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850  12% 
  full s/h
Table size 10 (Lim), 9 (NL) 
Approximate mix (%) 60%  40% 
Activity - Limit tables  players 
    2c/4c 33  237 
    5c/10c 34  229 
    10c/20c 20  159 
    25c/50c 32  264 
    50c/$1 43  258 
    $1/$2 45  291 
    $2/$4 35  179 
    $3/$6 27  158 
    $5/$10 21  139 
    $10/$20 10  45 
    $15/$30 30 
    $30/$60 45 
    $100/$200
Activity - No Limit tables  players 
    1c/2c 101  589 
    5c/10c 105  550 
    10c/25c 107  643 
    25c/50c 98  660 
    50c/$1 88  500 
    $1/$2 70  438 
    $2/$4 29  155 
    $3/$6 10  50 
    $5/$10 10  65 
    $10/$20 30 
Lobby view Flop % yes   
Avg pot yes   
Hands/Hr yes   
Real-time HH? yes   
HH stored on computer? yes   
Mucked hands in HH? yes   
Player notes? yes   
Session stats at table? yes   
Tournaments
  # of players
Multi-table tournaments (MTTs) 15 000 
Big weekly MTT Add to Calendar 
  Buy-in $200 + $15   
Entrants 5700   
Prize pool $1,000,000+   
Overlay? no   
Day/time (EST) Sun 4:30 PM EST  
Big daily MTT Add to Calendar 
  Buy-in $150 + $12   
Entrants 480   
Prize pool $72,000   
Time (EST) 9:10 PM EST  
  # of players
Sit n Gos (SnGs) 4 500 
  full s/h
Table size (SnGs)
Approx mix (%) 80%  20% 
Range of buy-ins $5 to $1000   
Time to seat  
    $3 + 40c <1 min   
    $5 + 50c <1 min   
    $6 + 50c <1 min   
    $6 + 50c <1 min   
    $10 + $1 <1 min   
    $10 + $1 <1 min   
    $12 + $1 <1 min   
    $12 + $1 <1 min   
    $15 + $1 <1 min   
    $15 + $1 <1 min   
    $20 + $2 <1 min   
    $20 + $2 <3 min   
    $25 + $2 <1 min   
    $25 + $2 <1 min   
    $30 + $3 <4 min   
    $30 + $3 <3 min   
    $35 + $3 <4 min   
    $35 + $3 <5 min   
    $50 + $5 <4 min   
    $50 + $5 <5 min   
    $55 + $5 <4 min   
    $55 + $5 <3 min   
    $100 + $ 9 <7 min   
    $100 + $9 <10 min   
    $105 + $9 <7 min   
    $105 + $9 10+ min   
    $110 + $9 <7 min   
    $200 + $15 10+ min   
    $200 + $15 10+ min   
    $210 + $15 <7 min   
    $210 + $15 10+ min   
    $300 + $20 20+ min   
    $300 + $20 10+ min   
    $500 + $30 10+ min   
    $500 + $30 20+ min   
    $525 + $30 10+ min   
    $1000 + $50 20+ min   
Blinds increase every?
  Regular 10 minutes   
Turbo 6 minutes   
Other    
Link to blind structure page   Link 
Hourly NL tournaments? yes  $1 to $150  
WPT/WSOP satellites? yes 
Tournament listing Link  
Max tables at once (ring) unlimited   
Max tables at once (tournaments) unlimited   
Poker Tracker? yes  Requires add-on: no  [link to add-on] 
Poker Tracker? yes  Requires add-on: no  [link to add-on] 
Ring game play clears bonus? yes   
When PokerStars offers a reload bonus, it typically clears at a bonus rate of 5-7x the number of raked hands. 
Tournament play clears bonus? yes   
Your tournament play counts toward reload bonuses when they're offered. Typically, 100% of tournament rake is refunded while clearing bonuses. 
Miscellaneous Match Max
Deposit bonus 100%  50 
Reload bonus (NA)    
Minimum deposit (NETeller) $25   
Minimum cashout $1   
Customer support NETeller cashout immediate; best we've seen   
  Response to email <1 hr   
Accurancy of responses 100%   
Endorsed by Affiliated Sites
  What we liked
- The abundance of high quality MTTs with comprehensive lobby info
- The superb software and customer support
- Relatively low deposit minimums ($25 via NETeller)
- Unlimited tabling; open as many as you'd like
- The best hand history feature out there--complete, easy to access and use 
  What we didn't like
- No sign-up bonus even for 1st-timers
- Players can select their own "image"; pets, kids, heads, cartoons and logos are everywhere
- Lots of "pros" and "know it alls" on the site
- That ugly faux parchment background 
  Why you should play the site
- Excellent software and support; nothing frustrating here except the beats
- Tournaments, tournaments and more tournaments all day, everyday
- Tons of no limit and limit games; if you can't find it, you shouldn't be playing it
- Ongoing satellites to major TV events; the road to the WSOP goes through PokerStars
- Superb VIP program with stuff you would actually use and wear 
  For the ring game player
- Flop%s are visible from the lobby aiding game selection
- You can play as many tables as you'd like at once
- There's a ton of no limit and limit action
- The real-time HHs are first-rate
- PokerStars is PokerTracker compatible 
  For the tournament player
- There's a great selection of multi-table tournaments at a wide range of buy-ins
- The blind structure in the regular SnGs favors skilled players
- 'Stars allows you to make deals, even in SnGs
- There's a wide selection of satellites to tour and televised events
- Competition in the satellites to MTTs tends to be weak 
  For the value player
- Your frequent player points (FPPs) can be used in a number of freeroll and satellite MTTS
- PokerStars rake is lower than that of its peers
- The blind structure in 'Stars regular SnGs allows a lot of play time for your money
- 'Stars offers "Deep Stack" tournaments with 5000 chips and 30 minute level time 
  Insider tips
- The Deep Stack tournaments last 12+ hours; make sure your calendar's clear
- Invest in PokerTracker if you're going to play the site regularly; PT automatically reads PokerStars HHs and gives you excellent data on your and your opponents' play [link]
- Cashout via NETeller; it's almost instantaneous 
  Ring game activity
Activity - Limit Avg # of tables Avg # of players Comments
2c/4c 33  237   
5c/10c 34  229   
10c/20c 20  159   
25c/50c 32  264   
50c/$1 43  258   
$1/$2 45  291   
$2/$4 35  179   
$3/$6 27  158   
$5/$10 21  139   
$10/$20 10  45   
$15/$30 30   
$30/$60 45   
$100/$200  
Activity - NL Avg # of tables Avg # of players Comments
1c/2c 101  589  70% s/h 
5c/10c 105  550  70% s/h 
10c/25c 107  643  70% s/h 
25c/50c 98  660  60% s/h 
50c/$1 88  500  60% s/h 
$1/$2 70  438  60% s/h 
$2/$4 29  155  40% s/h 
$3/$6 10  50  20% s/h 
$5/$10 10  65  20% s/h 
$10/$20 30  20% s/h 
Link to our complete compilation of action by size of game
  Multi-table tournaments
Big daily MTT Add to Calendar 
  Buy-in  $150 + $12
Entrants  480
Prize pool  $72,000
Time (EST)  21:10
Big weekly MTT Add to Calendar 
  Buy-in  $200 + $15
Entrants  5700
Prize pool  $1,000,000+
Day/Time (EST)  Sun/16:30
Hourly NL tournaments? yes  $1 to $150  
  Sit n Gos (active tables)
Game Avg # of tables Time to seat Comments
$3 + 40c 187  <1 min  turbo 
$5 + 50c 188  <1 min   
$6 + 50c 96  <1 min  turbo 
$6 + 50c 96  <1 min  Turbo 
$10 + $1 92  <1 min   
$10 + $1 92  <1 min   
$12 + $1 66  <1 min  s/h 
$12 + $1 66  <1 min  S/H 
$15 + $1 53  <1 min  turbo 
$15 + $1 53  <1 min  Turbo 
$20 + $2 46  <1 min   
$20 + $2 46  <3 min   
$25 + $2 34  <1 min  Turbo 
$25 + $2 34  <1 min  turbo 
$30 + $3 25  <4 min   
$30 + $3 25  <3 min   
$35 + $3 30  <4 min  S/H 
$35 + $3 30  <5 min  s/h 
$50 + $5 17  <4 min   
$50 + $5 17  <5 min   
$55 + $5 18  <4 min  Turbo 
$55 + $5 18  <3 min  turbo 
$100 + $ 9 <7 min   
$100 + $9 <10 min   
$105 + $9 <7 min  Turbo 
$105 + $9 10+ min   
$110 + $9 <7 min  S/H 
$200 + $15 10+ min   
$200 + $15 10+ min   
$210 + $15 <7 min   
$210 + $15 10+ min  turbo 
$300 + $20 20+ min   
$300 + $20 10+ min   
$500 + $30 10+ min   
$500 + $30 20+ min   
$525 + $30 10+ min  turbo 
$1000 + $50 20+ min   
Link to blind structure Link to site's tournament listing
  Software review
We think PokerStars software is among the best in the industry. The lobby includes all the info you need for good game selection (flop%s, avg pot, hands/hr, etc.) and the table includes all the features you need to play your best--pot and bet amounts visible, r/t hand histories, table specific stats, player notes--and no gimmicky features. We'd prefer it if players couldn't post an image of their eye, kid, dog, team logo, etc., but thankfully, you can turn the images off from the lobby. The menagerie aside, the table and card graphics are excellent. Betting buttons are large and intuitive, it's easy to see if you have player notes, and the session stats are accurate. PokerTracker supports PokerStars hand histories (both ring and tournaments). Note: recent software updates have added the ability to select your table background and seat position and the ability to resize your tables. 
  Hand histories
PokerStars hand histories are stored on your hard drive and are available for real-time review from the table. The hand histories are clear and easy to follow, and the viewer is the best we've seen. PokerTracker supports both ring games and tournaments from PokerStars without an add-on. 
  Lobby Info
Players yes
Avg pot yes
Flop% yes
Wait list yes
Hands/hr yes
  Table Info
Session stats yes
Player notes yes
Bet amounts yes
Pot amounts yes
Max tables (ring) unlimited
Max tables (trnys) unlimited
  Other
Choose own image yes
Visible profile no
Player search yes
Transfer money to player yes
Private tables no
Private trnys yes
  Poker Tracker?
Loads ring hands? yes 
Add-on req'd? no [link to add-on] 
Loads trny hands? yes 
Add-on req'd? no [link to add-on] 
  Player comments
Date User Click below for review or trip report
04/03/2007 08:12 display this trip report
03/05/2007 14:28 display this trip report
01/23/2007 09:04 display this trip report
11/08/2006 14:29 display this trip report
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