Poker Stars

General: If I were to ask you what the past two World Series of Poker champions, Greg Raymer and Chris Moneymaker, have in common, you'd probably quickly point out that they are both portly gentlemen. True, I'd reply, but more significantly than that, they both played online at Poker Stars. Also they are sweaty.

Poker Stars has earned a reputation as the online poker room with the best competition, and they have the WSOP champs to back it up. Due to the hype they've received from Moneymaker and Raymer, however, the fish are beginning to sign up in droves. Everyone wants to be the next WSOP champ to come from Poker Stars.

Games: Hold'Em, Omaha , 7 Card Stud, Omaha H/L, Seven Card Stud H/L

Poker Stars offers the standard ring games, the plus for beginners being that the limit tables start as cheap as $0.02/$0.04. That's cheap! The highest stakes they offer at a hold'em table are $100/$200. If that's not high enough for you, I'd like to borrow some money.

In terms of sit-n-goes, the cheapest are $5 + $0.50 and the most expensive are a $5000 + $100 heads up clash. There are also plenty of sit-n-goes (along with multi-table tournaments) that have a frequent player points buy in. So if you work your way up to 500 FPP's you can play in a sit-n-go with $215 in prize money. Not bad.

Poker Stars really shines in the multi-table tournament area, though. This is, in my opinion, the reason the last two champs have come from Poker Stars. There is everything you can imagine from $1 + 0 tournaments (unlike Party Poker where they restrict these cheap tournaments to brand new players, anyone can play the $1 + 0) all the way up to $535 NL tournaments with a $500,000 guarenteed prize pool. On top of that there are satellites all the time. Currently there are satellite to get into a WPT event starting as cheaply as $2 + 0 (not counting the 100 FPP satellite, which is free, of course.)

Software/Servers: There is a bit of a debate among poker players over which software is best, Poker Stars or Ultimate Bet. They both have a lot to offer in the way of stats, but I personally don't care for the Ultimate Bet graphics much at all, so Poker Stars becomes my favorite poker software by default.

Among the aforementioned stats available to you at the poker table are percentage of times you've seen the flop in blind and non-blind postions, percentage and number of pots won with showdown, and number of pots won without showdown, along with tournament info such as your position and the biggest and smallest stacks left in the tournament.

Cosmetically, I like the Poker Stars graphics quite a bit. Something about the animation seems smoother than a lot of other poker rooms, and I prefer having a space where you can add your own picture sort of like a buddy icon to the animated cartoon characters of some of the other sites. It's not a huge deal, just something to add a little personality to the game.

The servers here are awesome. There have never been any problems in my experience and everything is always fast and smooth.

Bonus: Poker Stars doesn't offer much in the way of deposit bonuses. They prefer to have an excellent frequent player points program, as I've mentioned, and it's rather debatable which is the better deal.

Conclusion: If you were opting to be a tournament player instead of a limit player, I'd have a hard time suggesting any poker room more highly than Poker Stars. They aren't quite head and shoulders above the competition in this respect, I simply feel they are the best. The software is good, rakes and tournament fees low, and the traffic is quickly growing. (They are currently a distant second to Party Poker in terms of traffic.) There is a lot, and I mean a lot, of reasons to sign up here. Plus there's an outside chance you'll be the next WSOP champion to come from Poker Stars.

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