Taken 2 December 2016 09:52.
Holdem table pre flop.
Choosing a table to play at.
PokerStars are the world's largest name in online poker and can trace their origins back to 2001, which is a long time in this marketplace. Founded in Canada by father and son team, Isai and Mark Scheinberg, the company was originally intended to be just a poker software developer but, unable to find any clients to license it to, the decision was made to start their own online poker site which went live on September 11th 2001. Despite the terrible events that have made that day infamous, PokerStars became an instant hit, with the first live, online poker tournament attracting a large number of players.
By December of that year, real money games were running and by the beginning of 2002, satellite tournaments to the largest poker events such as the WSOP were being offered. Growth was rapid, with 5 million users registered by 2006 and the 100 billionth hand played in June 2013. At certain times, the number of active players online has exceeded 120,000. The PokerStars site is, unsurprisingly, very well presented, with details of the latest offers and promotions displayed prominently and links to quick demonstration videos that introduce the varieties of table.
An unbeatable number of tables are supplied here, including:
Also some less well known versions like Courchevel, HORSE, 2-7 Single and Triple Draw and Badugi. Texas Holdem is far and away the most widely played version of poker and is available in Limit, Pot Limit and No Limit versions, with literally hundreds of cash tables playing at any one time, and hundreds of tournaments each week. There are also more than enough Omaha and Stud tables to ensure that players of any budget and skill level can find a table to suit them. Courchevel is an Omaha version where at the beginning of the hand, the first flop card is dealt face up, while HORSE is a variety where Holdem, Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud and Eight-or-Better are played in sequence after each hand. This is a great way to prove player's skills across a range of games and is becoming increasingly popular. 2-7 Single and 2-7 Triple Draw are won by getting the lowest possible hand, although rankings are calculated differently. Badugi success requires a low ranking hand from different suits and is again becoming more and more popular with those looking for something a little different and challenging.
Getting to any of these exciting games is made easy via the multi-function lobby area. Tables can be filtered by buy-ins, tournament details, number of seats, pot sizes and more. It also has tabs to take users to the cashier to deposit and withdraw funds, an options area where table size, sounds and other details can be customised, plus news, player statistics and customer support links. Once happy with these details, players just click to get seated at their table of choice. The tables themselves are presented in a similar fashion to many online poker sites, meaning nice clear graphics, options to customise details even further, history information and the ability to create an avatar using a real image of the player. The software has had many years of development so it is smooth running and images are pin-sharp.
Anyone with limited or no experience of playing poker will find the detailed Frequently Asked Questions section a definite place to visit first. Here they will find step by step instructions which range from how to download the software, how to fund an account to guides on how each type of game is played. There are plenty of images and video tutorials that take visitors through the basics of poker such as hand rankings and what flops, turns and rivers are, or they will also inform more experienced users about strategies and how to develop their skills further.
New customers are advised to try out the free tables and tournaments specifically designed to help them learn the basics without losing real cash. iPhone, iPad and Android owners can play on mobile devices, including rings, tournaments and Sit n' Gos, while deposits can be made to an account with no need to go online. There is even a PokerStars TV app (iPhone, Android) so users can view the biggest games. There is something for everyone here, with total newcomers able to learn how to play, professional players are able to find big money tournaments with strong competition and everything else in between for us average guys.
New customers can claim a welcome bonus that varies in detail occasionally, but will usually be of an average size compared to other sites. PokerStars are so popular that they don't need to tempt potential users in with a massive offer, although the bonus they feature is pretty easy to get, and like most poker welcome bonuses is released in stages to the customer's account with increasing Player Points earnt. No-deposit bonus offers are also commonly provided, as well as entry to freeroll tournaments, and claiming any of these is just a matter of entering the bonus codes as instructed when paying funds in.
The VIP programme rewards regular customers with two different types of points at the same time. VPPs, or VIP Player Points act as a monthly guide to how much a user has staked and determines their level in the VIP club, with bigger rewards for those further up the levels. All players start at BronzeStars level and as they progress through Silver, Chrome, Gold and on to the top Supernova and Supernova Elite levels, the rewards get more lucrative, including better points conversion rates, bonuses, invites to parties and VIP tournaments. FPPs, or Frequent Player Points are redeemable for merchandise in the PokerStars store, tournament entry or to cash out. It does seem a bit over the top to have two different points systems, but once playing, it's fairly easy to work out how many of each type have been earned. Several other promotions will always be running, but the details will vary. Overall, PokerStars are not the best for special offers, but again, they don't need to be.
Depending on their country of residence, customers can choose from a good selection of deposit and withdrawal options which covers the best known credit and debit cards, e-wallets and prepaid cards as well as bank transfers and even cheques. A unique method is the PokerStars Top-Up Card available from many retailers in the UK. Those using mobile phones to access the games may be able to use their network provider to transfer funds securely. Not all options allow for withdrawn funds to be sent to them, in which case, customers will be advised to set up an alternative system as well. Withdrawal requests get processed within 1-3 days depending on how deposits were made and where the money is going to, and the PokerStars site has detailed instructions on how to use each deposit and withdrawal method.
Although the customer support team are on hand 24/7, they can only really be contacted via an online Support Form, as there is no live chat or phone option available. That said, responses tend to be pretty much instant, and the FAQ sections are exceptionally detailed and easy to use.
PokerStars have become by far the world's largest site for a number of reasons. The selection of games and sheer number of players online is simply staggering and nothing else comes close. Even though they are not part of a network, they are twice the size of iPoker, which is the biggest network of sites around. So if variety is sought, visitors need look no further.
The software is easy to use and configure, the graphics are as good if not better than those offered by competitors and it really cannot be faulted. They don't offer the best range of welcome bonuses and promotions, but they are at least competitive, although the points scheme takes a bit of getting used to. Where they let themselves down a little, is in the customer support options. Although queries get answered quickly, a free phone number would be welcomed.
|Unrivalled number of players and games.|
|Popular, long established brand that people know and trust.|
|Lots of competition from very soft to professional level.|
|Limited customer support options.|
|License Number: 39108|
Appointed after his father stepped down from the position, Mark Scheinberg is the current chief executive of Rational Group, the parent company of Poker Stars.