PokerStars Network Review

Compare Full Tilt Poker vs PokerStars

Last Updated: 6 September 2017

PokerStars Network Review

To find out if the PokerStars Network is the best option for you, we recommend reading the entire review. However, if you already know that this is where you want to play, you can start playing on the PokerStars network today by clicking the banner below:

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PokerStars is the largest online poker site in the world, with plenty of cash games and tournaments offered 24 hours a day. Originally it was a single site network. However, that changed when Rational Group Ltd. (the company that owned PokerStars as the time) purchased Full Tilt as part of their $547 million settlement with the US Department of Justice. Full Tilt originally continued to operate on its own network, with players able to easily transfer money between the two sites. However, the networks were eventually combined.

Currently, there is little difference between Full Tilt vs PokerStars. Both sites offer identical promotions. Click to Tweet

The Rational Group was later purchased by Amaya Gaming for $4.9 billion. Amaya has since changed their name to The Stars Group.

Software quality on both sites is extremely high, with clean graphics and logical navigation. Advance action buttons and smooth animations make for a fast game, and multi-table play is well supported. Both sites offer poker software for mac, as well as Android and iOS, allowing you to play on a smartphone or tablet. 

Although PokerStars once had the most recognized poker VIP rewards programs, they have since scrapped the Supernova program and replaced it with Stars Rewards, which targets recreational players.

poker stars lobby full tilt cash gamespoker stars tournamentsfull tilt cashier
Click a screenshot for an enlarged view

the stars group logo

Peak hours: 6pm - 11pm UTC
Peak Traffic: 142,900 players
Peak Cash Traffic: 24,950 players
Avg. Cash Traffic: 16,000 players
Low Hours: 5am - 9am UTC
Low Traffic: 41,700 players
No US players
Reviewed Sites:

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Overall Rating
gold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold star
    9.5

Determine your player category:

  • Cash Game Rake
    gold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold star
     9.6 9.6
    +

         Casual Players
    gold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargrey stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargrey star
        99
      Enthusiasts
    gold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargrey stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargrey star
        99
      Amateurs
    gold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargrey stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargrey star
        99
      Semi-Pro
    gold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargrey stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargrey star
        99
      Professionals
    gold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargrey stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargrey star
        99
      Hardcore Pros
    gold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold star
        1010
  • Tournament Fees
    gold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold starempty starempty star
     7.8 7.8
    +

         Casual Players
    gold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold star
        1010
      Enthusiasts
    gold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold star
        1010
      Amateurs
    gold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey star
        66
      Semi-Pro
    gold stargold stargold stargold stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargold stargold stargold stargold stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey star
        44
      Professionals
    gold stargold stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargold stargold stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey star
        22
      Hardcore Pros
    gold stargold stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargold stargold stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey stargrey star
        22
  • Sit & GoSNG Fees
    gold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold star
     9.9 9.9
    +

         Casual Players
    gold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargrey stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargrey star
        99
      Enthusiasts
    gold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold star
        1010
      Amateurs
    gold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold star
        1010
      Semi-Pro
    gold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold star
        1010
      Professionals
    gold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold star
        1010
      Hardcore Pros
    gold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold stargold star
        1010
  • 1
Games Offered:
  NL Hold'em   PL Omaha Hi/Lo
  FL Hold'em   FL Omaha Hi/Lo
  PL Omaha   NL Omaha Hi/Lo
  FL Omaha   5-Card PL Omaha
  FL 7-Stud   5-Card PLO Hi/Lo
  FL Razz   5-Card FLO Hi/Lo
  NL 2-7 Triple   6-Card PL Omaha
  PL 2-7 Triple   PL Courchevel
  FL 2-7 Triple   PL Courchevel Hi/Lo
  NL 2-7 Single   FL Courchevel Hi/Lo
  8-Game   FL 7-Stud Hi/Lo
  NLH / PLO Mix   NL 5-Card Draw
  FL H.O.R.S.E.   PL 5-Card Draw
  FL Badugi   FL 5-Card Draw
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Zoom Poker & Rush Poker

Rush Poker

Full Tilt first introduced the concept of Rush Poker, in which players are automatically moved to a new table as soon as they complete an action on their current table. This dramatically increases the amount of hands a player can play per hour as they no longer need to sit around waiting for a hand to finish, but are instead dealt a new hand on a new table. The advantage of Rush Poker compared to playing on multiple tables simultaneously is that when you do play a hand, it has your undivided attention, allowing you to make better decisions. You are also guaranteed to always have a full table (i.e. nobody is ever "Sitting Out" because as soon as they sit out, they are no longer added to a new table). The disadvantage is that you are not sitting at the same table with the same players, so you will not get a sense for how they play (unless you are using 3rd party software like Hold'em Manager or Poker Tracker).

Zoom Poker

Shortly after Full Tilt introduced Rush Poker, other online poker sites quickly realized its advantages and copied it. PokerStars called their version Zoom Poker. After acquiring Full Tilt poker, and combining the two networks, PokerStars decided to keep their own name, Zoom Poker, and eliminate all references to Rush Poker, which is unfortunate since Rush Poker is the original.

In order for Zoom Poker to work properly, there needs to be a large group of players who all want to play Zoom Poker for the same game and at the same stakes. Obviously, if there are not enough players to fill 2 tables, then the advantages of this concept are greatly diminished, as each time you join a new table you will end up waiting for players to finish their hands on previous tables. As a result, Zoom Poker is most effective on large traffic sites and only for the most popular games.

  • PokerStars Cash Games
  • PokerStars Tournaments
  • PokerStars Sit & Go's

Poker Stars Network Cash Games

 
Active Tables (Full Table):
  NL Hold'em   1¢/2¢ - $3/$6
  NLH (Zoom)   1¢/2¢ - 5¢/10¢ & 10¢/25¢
  FL Hold'em   2¢/4¢ & 25¢/50¢ - $2/$4
  PL Omaha   1¢/2¢ - 25¢/50¢
  PLO Hi/Lo   1¢/2¢
  FLO Hi/Lo   2¢/4¢
  FL 7-Stud   4¢/8¢ - $3/$6
  FL 7-Stud Hi/Lo   4¢/8¢ - $3/$6
  FL Razz   10¢/20¢ - $5/$10
  FL Badugi   25¢/50¢ & $2/$4
 
Active Tables (6-Handed):
  NL Hold'em   1¢/2¢ - $5/$10
  NLH (Zoom)   1¢/2¢ - $2.50/$5
  FL Hold'em   2¢/4¢ - $5/$10 & $50/$100
  PL Omaha   1¢/2¢ - $25/$50
  PLO (Zoom)   1¢/2¢ - $2.50/$5
  NLO Hi/Lo   10¢/25¢ - 50¢/$1 & $5/$10
  NLO8 (Zoom)   1¢/2¢
  PLO Hi/Lo   1¢/2¢ - 25¢/50¢
  FLO Hi/Lo   10¢/20¢ & $2/$4 - $3/$6
  5-Card PLO   10¢/25¢ - $2/$4
  5-Card PLO8   10¢/25¢ - 25¢/50¢
  PL Courch.   10¢/25¢
  PL Cou. Hi/Lo   10¢/25¢
  NL 5-Draw   10¢/25¢ - 50¢/$1
  FL 5-Draw   10¢/20¢ - 25¢/50¢
  PL 2-7 Triple   25¢/50¢
  FL 2-7 Triple   $2/$4 - $3/$6
  8-Game   20¢/40¢, $1/$2 & $4/$8
 
Active Tables (Heads-Up):
  NLH (Zoom)   25¢/50¢ - $2.50/$5
  FLH (Zoom)   25¢/50¢ - $3/$6
  PLO (Zoom)   25¢/50¢ - $2.50/$5

PokerStars offers more variations of online poker for money than any other site, both for poker cash games and tournaments. Although many of the games offered are never active, there is still a wide variety of games with a lot of active tables for a wide range of stakes. The amount of options available for each game can be distracting. Click on the banner below to start playing cash games on the PokerStars network:

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Rake on the PokerStars network remains competitive for all games and stakes, despite the recent PokerStars rake increase. However, it is not as competitive as it first appears on paper. Most sites use milestones to determine when rake is taken. For example, a different site might rake 1¢ for every 20¢ in the pot, which appears to be 5%. However, if the pot is 35¢, then they would still only rake 1¢, which is only 2.9%. PokerStars almost always offers a lower percentage (e.g. 4.5%), but since they use the “round half to even” method, they will be rounding up half the time. On that same 35¢ pot, PokerStars would rake 2¢ (1.575¢, rounded up), which is 5.7% (almost double what other sites would rake).

The rake at PokerStars gets better as the pots get larger because the impact of rounding is less than the impact of the lower percentage. However, the level of competition on PokerStars is very high at all stakes compared to other sites, which results in smaller pots and fewer players seeing the flop (or 4th street in 7 Card Stud variants).

Unlike many online poker sites, the Poker Stars network continues to offer heads-up cash games. Click to Tweet

PokerStars Network Tournaments

PokerStars is the world’s largest poker site and this is never more evident than when playing online poker tournaments. The incredible number of players can lead to amazing prizes (like $215,000 guaranteed for winning the Sunday Million), but when combined with a top-heavy payout structure it also creates ridiculous levels of volatility in your results. This high level of volatility is the reason why even top online tournament professionals go months without showing profit on PokerStars.

You can start playing tournaments on Full Tilt today by clicking on the banner below:

download fulltilt poker

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Like most poker sites, a large percentage of tournaments offered are satellites. Seats won via satellite poker tournaments can be exchanged for tournament dollars, which can only be redeemed to buy into other tournaments. This option combined with the fact that most players fail to adjust from a strategy designed to accumulate chips to one designed to survive to the money, creates a very profitable opportunity to increase your poker bankroll with reduced variation.

PokerStars network sites allow you to sell seats won via satellites back to them in exchange for tournament dollars Click to Tweet

PokerStars offers a wide variety of tournament types, such as Knockout (bounty) tournaments, timed tournaments, etc. Click the banner below to start playing tournaments on PokerStars today:

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PokerStars coordinates all breaks. A 5 minute break is given to all tournaments from 5 minutes before each hour. Even better, the break starts when the last hand on all tables has been completed, so players are always guaranteed a full 5 minute break (although if playing multiple tables, the other tables may resume earlier).

PokerStars Network Sit and Go's

 
Sit & Go (SNG) Formats:
  Single Table (ST)
  Multi-Table (MT)
  Rebuys (R)
  Bounty (B)
  Fifty50 (F50)
 
Active SNGs (Full Table):
  NL Hold'em (MT)   2¢ - $30
  NL Hold'em (MT/R)   $3.50
  NL Hold'em (MT/B)   $1.50 - $30
  NL Hold'em (ST)   50¢ - $15
  NL Hold'em (B)   $1 - $10
  NL Hold'em (F50)   $1.50 - $30
  PL Omaha (F50)   $1.50 - $3.50
  NL Omaha Hi/Lo (MT)   $1.50 - $3.50
  NL Omaha Hi/Lo (B)   $1 - $3
 
Active SNGs (6-Handed):
  NL Hold'em (MT)   15¢ - $35
  NL Hold'em (MT/B)   $1 - $25
  NL Hold'em (ST)   40¢ - $1,000
  NL Hold'em (B)   $1 - $50
  NL Omaha Hi/Lo (ST)   $3.50
  PL 5-Card Draw (ST)   $1.50
  8-Game (ST)   $1.50
 
Active SNGs (Heads-Up):
  NL Hold'em (MT)   $1.50 - $7
  NL Hold'em (ST)   $1.50 - $500
  FL Hold'em (ST)   $3.50 - $10
  PL Omaha (ST)   $1.50 - $60
  NL Omaha Hi/Lo (ST)   $3.50 - $60
  PL Omaha Hi/Lo (ST)   $3.50
  FL Razz (ST)   $1.50
  NL 5-Card Draw (ST)   $3.50
  FL 2-7 Triple (ST)   $3.50
  8-Game (ST)   $1.50 & $15

No other site offers as many online Sit and Go poker tournaments as the PokerStars network, especially for full table or heads-up games. There are also plenty of multi-table Sit and Go tournaments, with up to 180 players for regular SNGs, up to 360 for 10¢ Turbo SNGs and up to 990 for 2¢ Hyper Turbos. For most games offered, PokerStars offers a wide range of active buy-ins.

Click on the banner below to start playing Sit & Go's on the PokerStars network today:

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The PokerStars network offers some of the lowest fees available online for full table, 6-handed, and heads-up Sit & Go’s. Fees for Turbo sit and go's are slightly lower, and Hyper Turbo SNG fees are lower still. 

Sit and Go fees on the PokerStars network are amongst the lowest offered online. Click to Tweet

Originally, PokerStars offered Double or Nothing tournaments, but they quickly changed the format to Fifty50 since this format is far less punishing for maniacs (who win more when they get lucky) and finishes in half the time (since grinding to the money is no longer a sound strategy). This change, which benefits weaker players and is less rewarding to skilled players, was implemented long before PokerStars bought Full Tilt. Since then, the PokerStars network has made many more changes designed to make the site more appealing to weaker players at the expense of the consistent winners. The worst part about the change from the old Double or Nothing format is that PokerStars increased the fee even though the tournament completes in half the time! If you enjoy playing Double or Nothing sit and go's, we suggest instead playing on the bwin.party digital entertainment network, where they still offer the traditional Double or Nothing format SNGs for both full handed and 6-max tables.

Full Tilt Poker vs PokerStars

In the past, PokerStars, Full Tilt, and Absolute Poker were considered the "Big 3" online poker sites, dominating the market. After Absolute Poker were caught red-handed cheating their players (for the second time), the battle for top online poker site came down to PokerStars vs Full Tilt (although Absolute Poker still clung on to 3rd place), with both sites offering excellent promotions to try to entice players to play with them instead of their competitors.

However, that all changed on the infamous "Black Friday", when the US Department of Justice seized the domains for all 3 sites. Already struggling from getting their hand caught in the cookie jar once again, Absolute Poker were unable to recover (and some players have been trying to get their money back for over 6 years now). The timing was bad for Full Tilt as well, who were accused of running a Ponzi scheme since they failed to keep players' funds and operational funds separate, using player funds to pay out huge bonuses to themselves. After the DOJ shut the site down, US-based players all suddenly wanted their money back, and Full Tilt didn't have it!

As part of their settlement with the US Department of Justice, PokerStars acquired Full Tilt and agreed to honor the financial commitment to their players. As a result, there is no more Full Tilt vs PokerStars. Although you can still download the Full Tilt software, and they still have their own website, Full Tilt is now just a PokerStars skin that is owned and operated by The Stars Group (the owners of PokerStars).

PokerStars Network Sites / Rooms / Skins

Up to 19.5%
Rakeback
$652/year
available freerolls
No US players
download full tilt poker
Up to 19.5%
Rakeback
$652/year
available freerolls
No US players
poker stars download

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