Poker Stars - Ever since a young online player named Chris Moneymaker burst on to the WSOP scene in 2003, there has been a lot of excitement surrounding online poker. And why not? It was from this site that Moneymaker qualified for the WSOP and eventually was thrust into stardom. While that improbable victory put Poker Stars in the spotlight, they’ve obviously backed it up with a quality site that is the destination of many online gamers.
Upon arrival at Poker Stars’ homepage, players are met with a very basic and straightforward layout. Lots of News and Results, and thankfully no pop-ups; it’s not all that flashy, but everything necessary is in place. In keeping with the basic theme, the Poker guidelines and How-Tos are simple and brief. Although the foundation of this site isn’t mind-blowing, it’s straightforward and seems to have all the bases covered. The only possible exception to this is the Support page; an email address is given, however no toll-free number is in place, as many competing sites have.
Moving on to the software download, it went quickly and easily, and after a quick email verification (similar to Noble’s), you’re ready to hit the lobby. The lobby is a simple pleasant layout, and the game of choice is easy to access. While I’m on the topic of the Lobby, I’d like to point out the HUGE player and table population of this site- virtually every game and every stake had long lists of full tables. However to Poker Stars credit, I never once had to wait to find an available seat in the game and stakes I wanted to play, and the Tournament area looked similarly available, with many players but still room for anyone who wants to join in.
Once the game is underway, Poker Stars both shines and sputters. First the bad news; the graphics are unimpressive, and the backgrounds leave a bit to be desired. While I am the first to admit that graphics aren’t the number one priority in a Poker site, when you spend two or three hours on one screen, it’s nice to look at something interesting (I can think of a few other sites where you can drop some cash and a few hours staring, but this is a Poker website). Anyways, that complaint aside, the gameplay on Poker Stars is very good, as it incorporates some innovative features. For example, it has a section for Notes, so you can keep track of your opponents’ play. There is also History and Statistics so you can analyze your own play, and connection strength is displayed. Of interest to players who don’t play for money- Poker Stars only allows 3 buy-ins per hour in play money games, which helps to eliminate the annoying “all-in cowboys” in free play.
Poker Stars recognizes the exposure it got from satellite champions Chris
Moneymaker and Greg “Fossilman” Raymer, and to capitalize on that, they
offer some strong incentives; there are lots of promotions to encourage WPT
Satellite play, as well as many other tournament promotions. Add this to the
exceptional player population, and it’s easy to see why many players love
Poker Stars- it’s a great site. The only thing that holds it back for me is
the basic and somewhat unattractive graphics, however don’t let that steer
you away from a booming, well-executed Poker site.