PokerStars is a fun and safe place to play poker. It 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-expense-paid trip to the Las Vegas World Series of Poker at Binions Horseshoe Casino. After nine days of REAL 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.
The operators know what is important to their players by putting together a professional service team coupled with good-quality software, choice of games and graphics. They realise there are plenty of places you can play poker over the Internet, but PokerStars is the only one where you'll be treated like a poker star from the start!
Poker Stars stands out from the crowd in other ways, though. The software has been developed by those who play real poker. That means games move at a good pace, making sure players get good value for their time online. Cards are dealt briskly, bets are made, and pots awarded all in good time.
This is aided by the 'Time Bank' (which also serves as a security feature against cheating and collaboration). The bank gives you a wad of extra time to call on when faced with difficult decisions. But, because this is finite, no player can habitually stall (or just play super-slow). Once you have taken most of your 'normally' allotted time to act, a time bank button appears. If you want to think a bit more, click the time bank button and you get more time, up to your total time bank limit for the tournament (usually 120 seconds).
As you continue to play on PokerStars, you will still earn your Frequent Player Points (FPP) which you can exchange for products and entries. From 2006, you'll also earn VIP Player Points (VPP). For each VIP Club level you achieve, you'll start reaping greater rewards.
VIP Club members can earn bonus Frequent Player Points, receive entries into exclusive tournaments and get personal instruction from members of Team PokerStars. The highest level VIPs can even use their FPPs to buy into the World Series of Poker, PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and other live poker tournaments.
Lastly, poker room newbies will understand how important it is to be able to recognise the faces at a table, so Poker Stars now give you the option of selecting a personalised image to represent you at the virtual tables; when you open your PokerStars account, you'll have the option of supplying your own picture, or not providing an image at all. This definitely adds to the fun.
This PokerStars review was updated in September 2013.
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