- Costa Rica
- Deposit Bonus
- 100% up to $600
- Bonus Code
- Deposit and Withdraw Methods
PokerStars is known as a fun and safe place to play poker. They also hit the headlines as the poker room which gave us the 2003 World Series of Poker Champion. If you are not familiar with the story, Chris Moneymaker (his real name!) registered and started playing online at PokerStars. With a small $40 wager he progressed through all rounds to emerge as winner of the PokerStars preliminary tournament. That earned him an all-expenses-paid trip to the Las Vegas World Series of Poker at Binions Horseshoe Casino. After nine days of live poker playing, Chris won the last pot, at 12:45 am on Friday, May 23rd, 2003 to pocket an amazing $2.4 million – kicking off a bout of depression in all those who thought online poker players couldn't hack it in the real world. Since then, Poker Stars has had the good fortune to have the 2004 WSOP Champion, Greg Raymer, and the 2005 WSOP Champion, Joe Hachem, represent them in those events.
This of course brought PokerStars a ton of publicity and the site has never looked back. With the down fall of Party Poker so came the rise of PokerStars. They are now number one in the world in player traffic with an incredible 100,000+ players at peak times!
PokerStars - Game Types:
PokerStars offers Texas Hold’em (Fixed Limit, Pot Limit, and No Limit) Omaha Hi and Hi/Lo (Fixed Limit, Pot Limit, and No Limit) 7 Card Stud Hi and Hi/Lo, RAZZ as well as 5 Card Draw, 2-7 Triple Draw, HORSE, and HOSE. They do not offer ANY casino house games and are one of the few pure poker rooms left on-line.
The Texas Hold’em stakes for Fixed Limit range from micro $0.02 /$0.04 to the high stake $1,000/$2,000. There is always action at the mid to lower limits and at the top limits during peak time you can usually find a game. PokerStars No Limit / Pot Limit micro stakes start at $0.01/$0.02 and go up to high stakes $200/$400. There are always games at any just about any stakes.
PokerStars Omaha Hi offers table stakes from $0.01/$0.02 up to $200/$400 and the Omaha Hi/Lo up to $75/$150. There is good action at just about all stakes at any time of day given the sheer size of PokerStars.
Seven Card Stud and 7 Card Hi/Lo tables are not a full as the Texas Hold’em or even Omaha tables but do get a fair amount of action at the lower stakes. The range of tables stakes go from $0.04/$0.08 up to $30/$60.
PokerStars other games such as 5 Card Draw, 2-7 Triple Draw, H.O.R.S.E, and H.O.S.E are a nice diversion for those who are looking for something different or new from the usual poker room offerings. There always seem to be some action at the lower limits of all these games, again it is attribute to the massive player volume that Poker Stars has.
The variety of tournaments that a player can choose from at PokerStars is staggering. They offer exclusive VIP Tourneys, Regular, Satellite, Special, Re-buys, Turbo, and of course Sit and Go’s. The MTT buy-ins cover all ranges from micro $0.50 up to $215 for the Sunday $350,000 and literally everything in between. The tournaments are very popular and usually fill up. It would be rare to see PokerStars cover an overlay for any of their guaranteed tourneys. They offer a weekly $50,000 freeroll for their Supernova status VIP’s. That is just huge… no other site can come close to PokerStars at this point in time. They of course have many more freerolls for their VIP players as well. The selection of SNG’s is very extensive. Poker Stars offers single table, Multi-table, Heads Up and even Satellite SNG’s. Again at just about any limit you could want to play. They fill up quickly especially at the lower limits during peak times.
PokerStars - Software and Features:
The software at PokerStars is average. They do not offer anything new, different or dynamic just solid poker rooms. The card room is uncluttered. There are no chairs, plants, end tables or goofy cartoon avatars. Players do have the option to add a custom image. The carpet is beige and easy on the eyes. The seat spacing is good which helps you follow the action easily.
PokerStars does offer an at-a-glance 'stats' button. The information is not as comprehensive as other sites but it is better than nothing. There is a handy player note taking feature which is very valuable if you want to keep tabs on what your opponents are doing. For the player who is trying to improve their game, Poker Stars provides hand histories upon request via online or email.
The dealer speed is average. The table cards are clear and easy to read but could be a bit larger. PokerStars does display the pot size above the dealer at all times during a hand which is helpful.
PokerStars main lobby is very well laid out. Players can find the games they are looking for without much effort or confusion which is actually pretty amazing do the huge number of tables and variety games that they offer. The tab filters are well marked and the color scheme is not distracting. They do not clutter up the main lobby with ton of promotions, banners or unnecessary graphics. The game lobby board displays all the necessary information; table stakes, average pot size, players/flop, hands/hour, players/table and players waiting.
One aspect that does set them apart from most other sites is that PokerStars offers a 9 seat ‘full’ table for all games except Texas Hold’em Limit (those tables seat 10... go figure). Some players like it and some don’t …it is a personal preference. They do offer a short handed table as well, which seats 6.
If you are into multi-tabling, PokerStars let you play up to 12 tables at once, which should be more than enough for just about any normal human. Another great feature is that players have the ability to resize the tables. If you are multi-tasking or multi-tabling, shrinking down the table size is a huge plus. Also, players are able to update and change themes of the card room as well as choose their seat position of preference. If you choose so, you can always sit at the 6 o’clock position. Again, a big help if you are mutli-tabling.
Sign-up bonuses at PokerStars are pretty weak at 100% to $50 at the time of this review. If you are the biggest site in the world, you don’t have to give away the farm to attract new players, I guess. The reload bonuses are not too frequent, about one every two months or so and they are usually around 20 to 25% up to $150 or there about, again nothing to get excited over.
PokerStars does have a terrific VIP program. Players earn points as they play real money games and tourneys. The more VIP points they earn, the higher up the VIP levels they move. There are some awesome VIP freerolls weekly and monthly for the top grinders. The frequent player points (FFP), which are also earned by real money play can be redeemed for tourney seats and merchandise in their awesome store. The items are more than your run of the mill poker gear and ball caps. They offer some pretty high-end consumer electronics such as iPods, digital cameras on up to a 60” Widescreen Plasma HDTV. They even have an Aston Martin -yes the real thing!- if you can earn enough points to buy it.
PokerStars - Behind the Scenes:
PokerStars takes site security very seriously. Their client software uses the certificates issued by their own Certificate Authority (CA), 1024 bit length, to authenticate the servers, as well as, the industry standard SSLv3 protocol. It is configured to use RSA for authentication and key generation and triple-DES (EDE3, in outer-CBC mode) for encryption. Currently they are using 512-bit RSA key, which according to them is sufficient for short and medium-term (up to several years) secrets. The use of Triple-DES EDE3 for session encryption is considered even safer.
The email support is very good at PokerStars as well. They respond in a timely manner with accuracy and clarity. The only place they lack is in the support area as they don't offer live chat or phone support.