From time to time I write about my experiences playing real-money poker online, so I thought some of my readers might be interested in this… My favorite online poker room, PokerStars.com, has just made a huge increase to their first-time player deposit bonus, as well as their reload bonus for current players.
For players new to the site, PokerStars is now offering a 100% bonus on deposits up to $600. They way it works is, the more hands you play, the more player points you earn… as you accumlate player points, the bonus is released into your account, in $10 increments. You can then play poker with it or withdraw it as you choose. You can make the deposit in up to 3 increments, although subsequent deposits must be made within 60 days of the first one.
Click the image above and enter STARS600 as the code to get the new player sign-up bonus. Must use the STARS600 code on each deposit made toward this bonus.
For those already playing on PokerStars, they’re offering a reload bonus of 50% up to a maximum bonus of $300. Again, you can make the deposits in 3 increments, but all must be made within 90 days of each other, and you have 6 months to collect the full bonus. For a poker player, this is the equivalent of a company match to your 401(k). It’s free money.
Click the image above and enter WCOOP as the code to get the reload bonus. Must use the WCOOP code on each deposit made toward this bonus. Yeah I know the banner is about the $600 new player sign-up, but it directs to the right place, just be sure to use WCOOP for the reload.
When I first got into online poker, I tried several poker rooms, but kept coming back to Stars. Here are a few reasons why it’s my favorite:
– They have micro limit tables. Even if you don’t have much to risk, you can find a table at your price range. There are tables with 1 cent small blinds/2 cent big blinds, so if you buy in for 100 big blinds and lose it all, you’re only out two bucks. As your skills progress, you can move up to higher levels. I currently play the 50 cent/$1 level most of the time, although sometimes I’ll step down a level or two if I want to limit my losses while I try out different strategies.
– They have a large number of “fish,” recreational players who play just for fun and who have never studied any theory on how to win at poker. All they know about the game is what they’ve seen on TV. These people are great to play Texas Hold’em with because they have no idea whether they hold a good hand. In online poker rooms, you make money by swimming with the fish, not the sharks.
– I like their interface better than other poker rooms. You can upload your own profile pic. My profile pic, by the way, is not a pic of me, but a pic I selected to give the others at the table the idea that I can’t even spell “poker,” much less know how to play. Thus they’re more inclined to try and bluff me with less-than-premium hands.
– Because there are so many PokerStars members, there’s always action. I can log on at 5 in the morning and find a cash game or a tournament if I choose. (Actually, late at night is a GREAT time to log on, because a lot of the fish are playing drunk, which makes their already-bad play even worse.)
– They have one-table sit’n’go tournaments. You sign up at the buy-in level you want, and then sit down with 9 or 10 other players. It usually takes less than 5 minutes to fill a new table (less than 1 minute in peak hours), and the tournament starts immediately, with progressive blind structures just like on a real Hold’em table. Top three places land in the money, which is usually split 50%/30%/20% among the top three. There are also “double or nothing” tournaments, where the first 5 of 10 to lose all their chips get nothing, and the 5 that remain get double their buy-in back. You can buy into these with as little as a dollar. I usually do $10 buy-ins for regular sit’n’go, or $20 for double or nothing. Tournaments tend to last about an hour on average, although there are also “turbo tournaments” with more aggressive blind structures that move faster.
– You can watch games without participating in them. This is called railbirding in poker, as you’ll see people leaning against the rail watching live games. This is a great way to learn proper poker play; search for the celebrity players on PokerStars (Daniel Negreanu, Chris Moneymaker, and others) and railbird their tables to learn good poker play. You can’t learn it from watching them on TV. TV is all about the ratings and only shows the highlights, the all-ins, the bad beats. It doesn’t show the pros folding before the flop 80-90% of the time, which is what actually happens.
– They have a lot of games I haven’t tried yet. There’s also Omaha Hold’em, stud poker, HORSE, and several more poker variations. There are also multi-table tournaments which you can buy into for cheap; the prizes for these can be pretty substantial. There are also multi-table tournaments where the prize is an all-expenses paid seat at the World Series of Poker. When I worked at the City Schools a co-worker of mine won one of these and got to spend a week in Vegas on PokerStars’ dime. If he’d made it to a featured TV table or the final table, he would’ve been given huge bonuses for wearing PokerStars gear.
I’ll mention that you can also sit down at play-money games on PokerStars, but I actually don’t recommend these as a way of developing your poker skills. People will bet and raise and go all-in with almost anything, because if they go bust they can just request more play-money chips. You’ll learn a lot more about correct poker play at the 1 cent/2 cent real money tables than you will at the play money tables. I suppose the play-money tables are good for getting familiar with the PokerStars interface, so that you’re comfortable before you make your first real buy-in.
If that all sounds like a good deal, scroll up, click on one of the banners, and sign up. Maybe I’ll see you at the table, although with the profile image I use, you may not know it’s me.
No poker for me tonight, though. It’s trivia night. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale… finally a decent Fire Sale to drink during trivia.