I bet you've all heard about Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer, the 2003 and 2004 WSOP Main Event winners. What you might not have known though, is that both these guys gained access to the WSOP through Pokerstars.
Even before it rose to world-fame, thanks to these two players, PokerStars had been known as the best place for poker tournaments.
Whatever your taste is in the matter of online poker tourneys, you're bound to find what you're looking for on PokerStars. The truth is, as far as tournaments go, PokerStars is second to no other poker room (not even PartyPoker). They get an astonishing 75,000 tournament players online in peak hours, and both the quantity and the quality of their tournaments is outstanding.
Because of the fierce competition it presents for tournament players, PokerStars had been known in the past as one of the tightest poker rooms on the internet, however, as they rode the publicity wave the consecutive WSOP Championship wins had provided, their games gradually loosened up. (they attracted scores of new players, mostly rookies). Despite this, their tournaments remained the toughest on the web, the fresh blood being concentrated mostly in the ring games. Thus, ring games will present you with a mix of good, extremely tight, and losing players. I wouldn't call it overly tough, but it's certainly not the most fish-laden poker room around.
Their software is especially tailored to handle the huge tournament traffic they get, so it runs smoothly even when there are more than 1,000 players in a tourney. The statistics it offers are all comprehensive, (before you join a table you see information on flops-seen percentages, average pot sizes and hands/hour) you also get comprehensive statistics for your own play. Everything taken into account, (features, client speed on slow connections etc.) PokerStar's downloadable client is, without a doubt, a masterpiece of programming. It stays fast even on slow connections and with all the extra information it processes on every single hand you and others play.
Though graphics-wise we've seen better (some newer sites are starting to produce full-3D poker graphics engines), reliability is the main feature we value, so the plain old top-down view has done nothing to ruin the play-experience.
You can attach an avatar to your account, you can take notes, you can view hand histories and so on. Their cash ring-game traffic is said to be around 10,000 players, which is also quite impressive, and if you decide to join the game, you'll be able to play Texas Holdem (just about any limit and stakes you can think of) Omaha, Omaha Hi-Lo and 7-Card Stud.
If you were considering building up a bankroll from freerolls winnings, you might want to choose another poker room. PokerStars is not known for its generous freerolls, each and every one they feature is some type of qualifier for a weekly freeroll that might yield some payout. Anyway, the competition is much too tough, even in these qualifiers, so they're simply not a good time-investment on your part.
Minimum deposit is $50. They will give their players a 100% match on their first deposit up to $50 (might not seem like much but it's fairly easy to redeem) They'll also occasionally have small reload bonuses. Obviously, the promo/bonus system is not one of the stronger points of the site.
Because of the fact that they still accept US players, PokerStars has one of the fastest and smoothest deposit/withdrawal systems. They accept they accept VISA, MasterCard, Wire transfer, and bank draft.
Checks are also accepted though they transfer much slower (max. of 15 business days but usually a bit faster)
Customer support is all right, industry standard I'd say. I didn't really needed support, so I couldn't exactly tell you how fast they reacted.
The final conclusion regarding PokerStars: it's a state-of-the-art poker room for tournaments, less so for ring games, and freerolls. If you do not consider yourself a fairly good player, though, PokerStars is probably not for you. It's one of those places where the best online poker players congregate, (endorsed by Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer and Joe Hachem) so rookies won't really stand a serious chance of making money here.
If you think you're good, though, by all means do join and buy in to their tourneys. You never know where the next Greg Raymer might be jumping out from...