Full Tilt Poker Vs. Pokerstars, Which is Best for You?
This article is part of my 'Poker' series
There are so many poker sites out there it can be hard to choose the one that's right for you. In this article I'll break down why Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars are the sites a new player should first consider. These sites are the market leaders for a reason, they have the best software, the most action, great customer service and the highest reputability. But which site really is the best for you?
Software, Cashier & Reputability
In these three categories both Full Tilt and PokerStars are heads and tails above the rest. They've built up top-notch credibility over the years, while maintaining market co-leadership. Also, they've independently developed the two best software platforms in online poker. They both offer more deposit and withdrawal options than the other sites, so you won't easily run into any headaches trying to move around your money, and they both offer player-to-player transfers as well. All-in-all, for these categories I would say the two sites are in a dead heat.
When you sign up at Full Tilt you have the option of getting 27% Rakeback when you sign up with a rakeback provider (don't know what rakeback is? Read more here). On the surface it may seem like Full Tilt has the advantage, offering the opportunity to get so much money back, but this is not exactly the case. PokerStars' reward system is very elaborate and it rewards regular players with player points, and they are much more generous than Full Tilt when it comes to rewards points.
The bottom line is that if you play quite regularly (say, over 15 hours a week) you should definitely consider PokerStars first. This is because you might play enough to become a Supernova, which is basically PokerStars' slang for a VIP. As a Supernova, your loyalty gets rewarded with tons of extra points that can be redeemed for cash. This ends up being worth a tiny little bit more than the 27% rakeback you get with Full Tilt. If you don't play quite often, then it would clearly be better to go with the Full Tilt plus rakeback option.
Because of the significant rakeback offer available with Full Tilt they consequentially have a very poor rewards program for their players. The reward system gives you points for every hand you play, and while you can cash those in for a few cool gifts (such as electronics, clothes and gear) you can't get cash. To get money from their loyalty program you need to play quite regularly and collect something called Ironman medals. While you can redeem these medals for cash, you don't get much and it's quite a hassle. The Full Tilt rewards program is very elaborate and flashy, but in the end it's fairly insignificant. The PokerStars rewards system on the other hand is the best available. Their points are all redeemable for cash and you'll get a fair amount of it. There's no comparing these two rewards programs, PokerStars wins hands down.
PokerStars has the most action on the net, no question. They frequently have more than double the amount of players that Full Tilt Poker does. I'm tempted to say that even though there are many more players on Stars, it doesn't really matter all that much because Full Tilt has a ton of player as well. The truth is that it's all about personal preference in games. If you like to play many tables at once and you play medium stakes, you may prefer PokerStars, because you can actually get as many tables as you want. But for most people it's not that big a deal. Stars wins for most action, but Full Tilt has a lot of action also.
Quality of games
This is debatable. Many pros agree the holdem games are better in general on Full Tilt. PokerStars seems to be saturated with holdem specialists and the games are tighter and tougher. For every other game I think the playing field is equal and in a few cases maybe the games are better on Stars. If you are a holdem specialist who doesn't play too many tables at once, you will likely have better results playing the games on Full Tilt.
Tournaments & Sit-n-Gos
This is where PokerStars shines. They have the best and biggest tournaments on the net. If you are a serious tournament player you definitely need to have an account on PokerStars. Full Tilt is a fun place to play tournaments as well, and they have a good amount of them going, but nothing compared to PokerStars. Ideally, if you intend to be a serious tournament player, it's advisable to have an account on both sites. There just aren't that many large field tournaments happening at any one time and you need to play as many as you can if you want to do well.
For beginners and small timers, the choice is clear
As of today, PokerStars has no way to compete with Full Tilt Poker for the business of small time cash game players. If you don't play all that much, then you will never climb the PokerStars VIP ladder and therefore will never receive adequate compensation for your play. Their reward system is great, but only if you are 100% loyal to them, and you play quite often. The Full Tilt plus rakeback option is the best option for most players. Although, if you like tournaments then you must have an account on PokerStars. Otherwise, you'd be missing out on the best tournament action on the net.
Salvatore endorses is FULL TILT POKER.com