POKERSTARS Online Casino
History and Overview
PokerStars launched its real money poker software in December of 2001. It has since grown into the world’s largest online poker room, spurred in no small part by the success of Chris Moneymaker. A $40 PokerStars satellite tournament sent Moneymaker to the 2003 WSOP Main Event where he ended up winning $2.5 million. Team PokerStars is made up of Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstein, Vanessa Rouso and past WSOP Main Event champions Joe Hachem, Peter Eastgate, and Jonathan Duhamel.
Software and Graphics
PokerStars uses proprietary software that looks clean and performs well, even during big multi-tabling sessions. The software has the stability to handle the massive amount of players on its tables, and PokerStars consistently upgrades its software to include new features and improved stability. You’ll probably want to change the default table skin or theme, which is fun and easy. Install a number of professional designed themes or upload your own background. In late 2007, PokerStars added a Mac version of its software—something other poker rooms have been slow to adopt (cough, Bodog) despite Apple’s increasing market share.
PokerStars packs all the usual statistical functions into its software, with the ability to create player notes, view your stats/percentages and check and replay hand histories. Multi-tabling experts will be able to play up to 24 cash games at once, as well as an unlimited number of tournaments and SnGs (sit-and-gos). Players can upload their own avatar. Make sure you want this to be your image, because you can only change it once. (If you really need to change it again, email customer support and they will usually allow you to do so). Other features include the standard time-bank for those difficult decisions and an auto-rebuy in ring games so you avenge that bad beat.
PokerStars has “soft” competition at the lower limits, which is a nice way of saying these players are weak and inexperienced. This makes sense considering thousands of new players sign up each day, ready to hand you their money if you’re good enough to take it. Bad beats abound, so be careful. Slow playing tends to be a recipe for disaster on PokerStars, or “JokerStars” and “RiverStars” as some disgruntled players call it. High stakes ring games are quite competitive and aggressive, so unless you are a very experienced player aren’t afraid to go through some big ups and downs, you may want to stick to the medium and lower levels.
Tournaments and Freerolls
Tournaments feature plenty of soft competition at the low- to medium-level tournament buy-ins. Take advantage of their 45-player and 180-player multi-table SnGs for some loose action. Everything is bigger at PokerStars, and if you’re looking to win some life-changing money, the PokerStars Sunday Million is your ticket to fame and fortune. This NL Hold’em tournament has a guaranteed prize pool of a cool $1.5 mil, with over $240,000 going to first place. Can’t afford the $215 buy-in? No problem. Hundreds of satellites run throughout the week so that you can qualify for as little as $2.20 or 400 FPP credits.
PokerStars has a growing list of tournament types. Besides playing a regular SnG, you can play double or nothing, fifty50 or steps. Multi-table tournaments include shootouts and heads-up tourneys. There are also satellites, rebuy, bounty, knockouts, deep stacks, 6-max, 4-max, turbo, hyper-turbo, 2X-turbo, and guaranteed tournaments. If you don’t have any cash or just don’t feel comfortable risking your hard-earning money just yet, PokerStars offers multiple freeroll poker tournaments every day, with winners that advance to the weekly $1000 prize pool freeroll. Every year they run the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) and the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP). The 2010 WCOOP was a 2-day event with a buy in of $5,200. 2,443 players took part, creating a prize pool of more than $12,200,000. The champion, POTTERPOKER, took home some spare change to the tune of $2,278,097.
PokerStars offers two types of loyalty programs, VIP Player Points (VPP) and Frequent Play Points (FPP). VPPs only measure your VIP level and can’t be redeemed. FPPs have value and can be used to enter tournaments, purchase items from the VIP store, or exchange for cash. You’ll earn points for every qualified raked hand in cash game play and for every tournament fee.
Each time you earn one VPP you will also earn one or more FPPs based on your VIP level. For example, if you are a Silverstar you will earn 1.5 FPPs for each VPP, and if you are a Supernova player you will earn 3.5 FPPs for each VPP. PokerStars also offers an online poker school where you can enroll for free and learn from the pros with videos and live training sessions.
PokerStars doesn’t offer phone support, but they promptly respond to your emails and welcome your feedback. Their process cashouts quickly, and their website FAQs should be able to answer most of your questions.