Poker Player's Guide

PokerStars Marketing Code - PokerStars2011 Pokerstar.comPoker Stars introduction into the online poker marketplace represented a major step into adulthood for the online poker industry. As time passes, online poker will continue to grow and mature, but PokerStars is responsible for many of the most player friendly innovations we enjoy today. is currently the largest online poker room in the world.

(As of April 2011, United States residents are not allowed to play for real money on Pokerstars. However, the rest of the world can play on or other regional licensed sites. Scroll to the bottom the page for other language links.)

A key element separating PokerStars from the pack is superior software. PokerStars software was developed by designers who play poker, and it shows. The game moves briskly -- cards are dealt, bets made, pots awarded, and then we do it again. But more than its efficiency, what really interests me about PokerStars is how it introduced many new functions to online poker.

My favorite original PokerStars feature is Stats. Ever wonder what percentage of Holdem flops you see? Or how about what percentage of showdowns you win, or how often you play the big blind? You have this information at the click of a button. You can see your dynamic stats for your current session right on your game screen, or request your stats for some number of previous hands, or even for your entire history on the site. In poker, knowledge is power. This is especially true of online poker. Since we lose much of the human interaction online, the statistical analysis of our play is even more important than in a casino. And with PokerStars many key statistical facts about our game are now at our fingertips.

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PokerStars also first provided an aid to help with the human aspect of the game too. Like Statistics, the "Notes" feature is integrated into the games chatbox. (You click on tabs on the chatbox to switch between Chat, Statistics, Notes, and Info modes.) Some people have their personal player databases organized very well, but PokerStars offers an integrated way to conveniently store information on any player ever to make an impression on you. Simply click the Notes tab on the chatbox, then click on an opponent's icon. That opponent's name will now appear in the upper part of the chatbox. In the lower part, type in whatever comments you want to make about that player, for instance: "Biff -- likes to checkraise." This note about Biff will be stored on your hard drive, so when you next play Biff, all you have to do is double-click his icon and your previous notes on him will appear in the chatbox -- even if it is days, weeks or months later.

PokerStars.netPokerStars multi-table tournaments represented a major step forward from previous online functionality. Once again, a key word in describing PokerStars is integration. When you play a tournament on PokerStars, you sign up in a tournament lobby. Navigation between tournaments and ring games takes one mouse click. The Tournament Lobby also provides a wealth of information. You can see who is at what table, exactly how many chips each player has and results of previous tournaments. You can go to each table and observe the play. You can see who has been eliminated and in what place, how many players are left, average chip stack size, etc. Additional information is accessible under the "Info" chatbox tab. Info tells you exactly where you personally stand in the tournament (for example, thirteenth out of twenty remaining players) and more.

PokerStars also offers satellite tournaments for larger events, which are again fully integrated. When you qualify from a satellite to a larger tournament you are automatically and immediately registered to the target. There is no guesswork to see how many other players are registered or any doubts about whether your win will be somehow "lost" in cyberspace.

Another original feature is a "Time Bank." Some decisions require extra thought. At the same time, it is important to not let angleshooters stall at critical junctures. PokerStars Time Bank gives players a stash of extra time to use when faced with difficult decisions, so no player can habitually stall (or just play super-slow). When it comes your turn, once you take most of your normal allotted time to act, a time bank button appears. If you want to think more, click the time bank button and you get more time, up to your total time bank limit for the tournament. In practice, a person might use this three or four times a tournament, maybe taking an extra ten or 15 seconds each time. Your total available time bank balance can be viewed by clicking the Info tab.

Other PokerStars features are the ability to have your own unique photo as your "game face." You can use a picture of yourself, your cat, John Wayne, your mother-in-law, or any other (non-rude) photo you desire. You can also disable this feature and see generic icons for everybody. PokerStars offers Pot Limit and No Limit capability (including play money), hand histories (including tournaments), and the ability to see all players' connection speed/status.

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Statistics, notes, the multi-table tournament lobby and features provide thinking players with information. And since knowledge is power, PokerStars is a powerful online poker room. is the free-games-only section of You can access the same things from the .com that you can from the .net, but the .net offers no direct path to the .com.

When signing up, use the official PokerStars marketing code of "PokerStars 2011" as shown in the in the graphic above. This will get you the best best signup bonus offer that the company provides.

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Playing poker for money in person or online may be illegal in some countries and localities.