When talking about online poker, two names are
synonomous with game. One is PokerStars, of course, and the other is
Both rooms played a huge part in popularizing
poker. It’s fair to say that without them, the game would likely be much
However, there is one big difference between
Party and Stars.
When the UIGEA was passed in 2006, PartyPoker decided to leave the US market, while PokerStars continued business. This helped grow the brand even further and become the number one online room that it is today.
PartyPoker moved to offer games to the rest of
the world and has always remained one of the top choices for serious grinders
and casual players alike.
But what about now?
This comparison review should give you a fairly
good idea of what to expect from both sites in terms of software, player traffic,
game selection, rakeback, bonuses, and much more.
So, armed with all that information, you’ll be
able to make an informed decision about which room is the best option for you.
Software: PokerStars vs PartyPoker – PS Wins (Only Just)
One thing that you’ll notice immediately about
any poker room you choose is its software.
Whether you’re an experienced pro or someone
just getting into the world of online poker, the design of the software – and
how well behaves – won’t go unnoticed.
PokerStars – Software
When it comes to PokerStars, the company has
done a great job in this department. Its software is considered the best out
there, and very few rooms can even come close in terms of quality.
There are several things that make PokerStars stand
out from the rest:
- Overall design
- Stability and functionality
- Game filters
- Customization options
- Excellent mobile app
The computer version of the software offers
everything you could possibly need.
First of all, the client is very stable and
doesn’t suffer from random disconnects that have been plaguing some other
operators, which can be very annoying and quite costly.
Filtering and sorting games at PokerStars has
been turned into a science. You have so many different filters available to you
that you can easily pick out the exact type of games you want to play.
The number of players at the table, the buy-in range, ante or no-ante, game type, and many other options are at your fingertips.
PokerStars also provides a multitude of
Players can choose different table backgrounds,
easily set their preferred seats, fine-tune auto-rebuys for cash games and
tournaments, and access a variety of options designed to help you play multiple
tables at the same time.
Finally, for those who want to play on the go,
Stars offers the best mobile app out there.
Available for both Android devices and iPhones,
the app provides a seamless poker experience. The room has addressed many of
the common issues players had to deal with in various mobile apps over the
years and now offers a really polished and highly functional product.
With the support for multiple tables and
offering a very player-friendly system to switch between the games, PokerStars
is really an excellent choice for those who want to play on their phones and
PartyPoker – Software
PartyPoker has been through many changes in
terms of software design.
For a while, the client may have been one of its
biggest problems because it felt and looked outdated, especially when compared
to its biggest rivals.
After trying out different designs and
approaches, Party has finally settled with a new and modern client that looks
the way it is supposed to.
The current version of the software has
everything a player could ask for:
- Nice design
- Solid game filters
- A good number of customization
The PokerStars client is probably more
comprehensive, but Party has come a long way from its early days.
You’ll definitely enjoy smooth sessions and it’s unlikely you’ll notice the missing features since all the essentials are in place.
When it comes to the mobile app, PartyPoker
offers great on-the-go experience, with more entertainment options than what
you’ll find at Stars. One of them is the ability to throw emoticons at your
All in all, PartyPoker isn’t far behind PokerStars
in terms of software.
For most players, there won’t be too much
difference. You’ll be able to set up both clients the way you like, and both
offer robust filters that make it easy to find the games you want to play.
This category is close to a tie.
PokerStars takes a marginal victory as its
software is more advanced in some aspects, but most players won’t get to take
advantage of these. If you’re really heavy on multi-tabling, PokerStars might
be easier to set things up the way you want them to be.
Game Variety: PokerStars vs PartyPoker – PS Wins
When it comes to popular game types, most
players are after games like Hold’em and Omaha. That’s why most rooms focus on
providing these variations with maybe one or two extra options for those who
need or want them.
PokerStars is the only operator out there that offers
almost every single version of poker you can imagine.
This is one of the reasons why the brand is so
strong and why a certain segment of players remains so loyal to PS.
Beyond different versions of Omaha and Hold’em,
PokerStars also offers:
- Seven Card Stud
- Five Card Draw
- Deuce to Seven Triple and Single
- Eight Game Mix
- 6+ Hold’em
- 5 Card Omaha
- 6 Card Omaha
Clearly, PokerStars is the place to be for all those who seek action in lesser-known and not-so-popular variations.
What’s also really good about Stars is that
these different games are offered across all sorts of stakes and often in both
cash game and tournament formats, so you will surely find games suitable for
PartyPoker is undoubtedly more mainstream in
terms of available variations.
In addition to No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-Limit
Omaha, it only offers 6+ (Short Deck) Hold’em. So, if you’re an expert in a
different game or are looking to learn a new variation by playing, you won’t
find what you’re looking for here.
PokerStars takes an easy win in this particular
If PLO and Hold’em aren’t your cup of tea, then
you really won’t find much to do on PartyPoker. Of course, this isn’t relevant
for the majority of players as most people gravitate towards these two
To be completely honest, it does come as a bit
of a surprise that Party didn’t put in more effort towards creating a comprehensive
platform that would offer more variety.
Being one of the oldest and longest-standing
rooms around, it definitely has the technology, the know-how, and the staff to
make it happen – it’s hard to understand why they wouldn’t.
Cash Games: PokerStars vs PartyPoker
Given that Stars has much bigger player traffic
(more about that shortly), the total number of cash game tables running at any
particular moment is almost always higher at PokerStars than on PartyPoker.
Beyond that, it’s interesting to see what kind
of stakes are on offer on both sites.
PokerStars has a great range of cash tables
with games starting as low as $0.01/$0.02 for almost all game variations, or at
least for no limit and pot-limit games. This means that even players with very
small bankrolls can get started here and slowly build their way up.
At the far end of the spectrum, Stars offers
games as high as $200/$400.
These tables are mostly empty, though, or
inhabited by pros waiting for someone to sit down and play them. The highest games
that are actually active are $10/$20, with some action happening at $25/$50
during busy evening hours and on weekends.
PartyPoker also offers an excellent range of
stakes, from $0.01/$0.02 up to $50/$100.
However, it does seem that there’s not a whole of action past $5/$10. Occasional $10/$25 games do kick-off but hardly often enough to make them viable for serious grinders who regularly play on these stakes.
Low to mid-stakes grinders are probably better
off at Party because the room offers softer games and better rakeback. The
number of tables running at any given point isn’t that big, but it’s still big
enough for most players.
However, those looking to play higher than
NL500 will probably have to stick to Stars.
It doesn’t seem there is enough action going on
at higher stakes to allow for enough hands to be played during a session. Of
course, because of other benefits, combining Party with another room could be a
decent option and provide better benefits than playing exclusively on
Fast Cash Tables
Ever since Full Tilt Poker introduced Rush,
different speed poker variations became hugely popular and today are enjoyed
equally by pros and casuals.
Allowing for faster action and more hands per
hour, fast-fold games have their appeal.
As you might know, these are called Zoom
tables at PokerStars.
The room offers Hold’em and Omaha tables with
stakes from $0.01/$0.02 to $25/$50 for 6-max. There are also heads up Zoom
table starting at $0.25/$0.50 and going as high as $50/$100.
If you’re planning on playing Zoom, the action
is available only up to PL/NL500. All tables above those stakes are pretty much
a ghost town, and there are never enough people in the pool to have proper
PartyPoker offers Fast Forward, which is pretty
much the same thing.
However, there are only 6-max tables and no
heads up action. Available stakes run from $0.01/$0.02 to $2.50/$5 with a much
smaller player pool than you can find on Stars.
Fast fold poker is an interesting variation that does require a fair few players to run as it is supposed to. From that point of view, PokerStars is a better option as 30 or 40 players in the pool like you might find on Party probably isn’t quite optimal.
At the same time, higher stakes Zoom games on
Stars are super-tough. I wouldn’t suggest getting involved with NL200 or NL500
unless you’re really, really good.
At NL500, especially, you might find yourself
sitting across some of the best cash grinders in the world.
Party isn’t a walk in the park, either, but
games are softer by default.
Tournaments: PokerStars vs. PartyPoker
All tournament players know that PokerStars is
the place to be.
There is no other room that offers nearly as
much action across all stakes, every single day of the week. Daily tournament
schedules on Stars are enough to fill any players’ day, no matter what their
average buy-in is.
Of course, PokerStars is also home to some of
the best-known events like Sunday Million and major online series like WCOOP,
SCOOP, Micro Millions, etc.
It also features numerous satellites to live
events, especially for European Poker Tour tournaments. If you want to earn your
seat in one of these, you can try your luck and skills on PokerStars and
potentially build your way up from as little as $1.
This may not be a big deal for serious players,
but these opportunities attract armies of casual players over to Stars.
They still come to chase their dream of making it big playing poker, and many of them actually manage to qualify for major EPT events, sometimes even making deep runs and reaching final tables.
The combination of all these elements has made
PokerStars what it is today. When people think about tournament poker,
PokerStars is the first room that crosses their minds.
Even with the latest changes that many players
aren’t happy about, Stars is still the absolute leader in this particular
So how can PartyPoker compete with that?
Well, Party has done a lot to improve its
schedule of daily and weekly tournaments so you’ll find plenty of events to suit
you. The range of buy-ins is also quite substantial, so there is something for
The most significant difference between
PartyPoker and PokerStars tournaments is that the former usually doesn’t have
guaranteed prize pools nearly as big.
Party doesn’t attract the same number of
players as Stars, so it can’t afford to put massive guarantees on all of its
Of course, there are still some big tournaments
such as PartyPoker Million, which is the room’s answer to Sunday Million, but
it inevitably falls short in these offerings.
On the flip side, the fact that guarantees aren’t as big also means that tournament fields are smaller and more manageable. More experienced players will know this means lower variance and more frequent cashes, which could be a nice thing if you have a smaller bankroll.
So for this, it’s really about what you prefer
and what you’re most comfortable with.
Spin & Go vs Spins
There is hardly a poker player out there who
hasn’t at least heard of PokerStars’ infamous Spin & Go hyper tournaments.
Envisioned as special 3-player sit & go’s,
these tournaments have a random element to them, as the prize for the winner is
determined by chance.
You could be playing for just double your
buy-in – or 10,000x your buy-in (and anything in between).
Spin & Go’s have been a huge success for
Stars. While regulars weren’t too thrilled about the idea, casual players love
The chance of winning $10,000 in a $1 tournament against just two players (as small as it may be) is simply the stuff that dreams are made of.
Not surprisingly, PartyPoker has its own
version of these tournaments, called Spins. The structure is very similar to
Stars’ events, and the maximum prize is also 10,000x the buy-in.
The level of play may be somewhat lower at
Party, as some grinders have managed to master Spin & Go’s and now play
If you want to try this format, perhaps you
should give PartyPoker a chance. Games are likely to be softer, which is
definitely a big plus in a format that has such high variance.
Player Traffic: PokerStars vs. PartyPoker – PS Wins
In today’s poker climate, player traffic has
become one of the biggest things to look at when choosing where to play.
It’s fair to say that golden days of online
poker are behind us; it’s no longer the situation where all rooms are bustling
with action. Picking a site that has enough players to provide games around the
clock is very important.
When it comes to PokerStars, pretty much
everyone knows they are the leaders in terms of player numbers. No other room
can really compare to Stars in player traffic as they can offer busy cash game
and tournament tables around the clock and across all stakes.
PartyPoker is sitting in the 5th
spot of PokerScout’s rankings at the time of writing this comparison, with a
7-day player average of 1,900 players. This is well behind PokerStars’ 9,600.
But what do these numbers mean for you as a
While PokerStars is clearly the room with much
better traffic, that doesn’t mean that Party isn’t able to offer plenty of
action as well.
You’ll find that PartyPoker is also quite busy,
especially during evening hours, and you won’t struggle to find the games
across most stakes.
So, to sum it up, although no room can compare
to PokerStars in terms of sheer player traffic, PartyPoker is a solid alternative.
Unless you want to play a crazy number of tables at higher stakes, you’ll have
no problems at Party.
Player Quality: What Games Are Softer? – PP Wins
The quality of competition is another essential
consideration when deciding what the best room for you is. Ideally, you want to
play on a site that has decent traffic, but where your average player isn’t outstanding.
How do Party and Stars compare in this
The general consensus is that games are softer
over at PartyPoker.
Although PokerStars has been focusing a lot of
attention on recreational players lately, it seems to attract more customers to
its other products (casino, betting). Poker tables remain quite heavily riddled
by grinders, especially at higher stakes.
At the same time, PartyPoker offers more
poker-focused promotions, which do attract a lot of casual poker players to the
tables. This is why you’re likely to find softer games at Party.
However, it must be said that the grinders to
casuals ratio at PartyPoker has been changing lately.
One of the biggest reasons for this is the fact
Party has started to offer good rakeback opportunities in an attempt to attract
some of the PokerStars regulars. This strategy has worked out well to an extent,
as a fair few professional players have found a new home at PartyPoker.
Overall, there are more competent players on
PokerStars, but Party isn’t the “fish pond” it used to be once, either. Games
are softer than on Stars, but the difference isn’t that big.
Welcome Bonus & Promos: PokerStars vs PartyPoker
If you don’t have an account with PokerStars as
of yet, you’ll have two welcome bonuses available to you when you make the
- Option 1: 100% up to $600
- Option 2: Deposit $20 or more and
get $30 bonus bundle
The first offer is quite straightforward, and
it’s the standard welcome bonus that you might be used to. Any amount you
deposit will be matched in full and added to the bonus balance.
As you play, the bonus will be released in
increments and added to your cash bankroll.
The second option is geared more towards casual
players looking to get some fun for their money. The bonus bundle includes two
$5 cash boosts and a variety of $0.50 and $1 Spin & Go tickets.
These won’t be given to you all at once, but
across your first several days at Stars.
Clearly, the first option is more valuable for serious players, but if you’re only depositing $20, you should probably take the second option.
As for other promotions, there are a few
interesting ones, like:
- Spin & Go leaderboards
- Platinum Pass (Road to PokerStars
- Zoom Early Bird
Realistically, though, these aren’t
particularly rewarding for casual players or worth the effort for regulars
either. You could say the promotions found at PokerStars are average at best.
How does Party stack
PartyPoker also welcomes players with first
The offer is clearly geared more towards casual
players. It might not be that sttractive if you’re someone who already has a
solid bankroll and knows what they want to play.
Players can choose from two options when they
make their first deposit:
- Deposit $10 and get $10 worth of
- Deposit $20 and get $30 worth of
Clearly, the second option is more valuable,
and it’s what you should be going for in all cases. But the whole welcome bonus
at Party seems rather pale, especially when compared to PokerStars.
That said, the room more than makes up for it
through its rewarding cashback system that I’ll talk about next.
In terms of other promotions, PartyPoker is
definitely more colorful. Perhaps the most interesting are the leaderboards for
every type of game: cash games, tournaments, and Spins.
So, whatever your game might be, you’ll have a
chance to win some extra cash along the way, which is always a great incentive
to grind more.
PartyPoker Gives More
As mentioned already in this review, PartyPoker
has introduced some changes that all regular players and grinders love.
When Stars decided to get rid of its Supernova and Supernova Elite statuses, it left many players in a bad spot as they didn’t know where to turn to for their rakeback earnings.
PartyPoker came up with a system where players
can get up to 40% of their rake back each and every week, which is very
attractive in today’s online poker climate. There aren’t many rooms that offer
this kind of a deal, at least not the ones that are trustworthy and also have
good player traffic.
To receive your cashback at PartyPoker, you
need to opt-in manually. Once you do this, you’ll become eligible for a
percentage of your rake back as soon as you accumulate 25 points (pay $25 in
- Level 1: Up to 149 points – 20%
- Level 2: 150 – 599 points – 25%
- Level 3: 600 – 1199 points – 30%
- Level 4: 2,000+ points – 40%
This is a system that really favors grinders
and those who put in serious volume at the tables. By doing this, Party has
managed to come up as maybe the only room these days that shows they want serious
players instead of pushing them away.
Compared to PokerStars’ Chests, Party’s
cashback system is far superior.
The whole idea of Chests and surprise rewards
for the players has some allure to it, but it’s not what you want. There are
far too many random elements, and the rewards you can get from these chests
just aren’t nearly as valuable as what you can get playing at PartyPoker.
This is one crucial segment where PartyPoker
takes an easy win at this point in time.
It’s become clear that PokerStars just isn’t
interested in keeping regular players happy anymore, and PartyPoker has managed
to profit from this. Its system may not be as good as what Stars once offered,
but for today’s environment, it’s really solid.
Deposits & Withdrawals
When it comes to banking options, both
PartyPoker and PokerStars cover a wide array of methods.
The giants they are in the world of iGaming,
both rooms can offer almost all options you can think of. You can use
everything, from credit and debit cards to e-wallets like PayPal, Skrill, and
NETELLER, plus various other alternatives.
There is a catch, though.
Both Stars and Party run a reasonably tight
ship when it comes to various laws and regulations, so you might find that
certain countries only have access to a limited selection of options.
This isn’t that great if you come from one of the “smaller” countries and are restricted to only a few choices, but it is what it is.
Both rooms are really quick to send players
their money. You won’t have to wait long to receive your winnings, but do be
prepared to undergo a serious verification procedure when you first join.
It’s fair to say that both rooms are quite
similar in this particular department.
They are doing an outstanding job to ensure
players have access to a good variety of options and are quick to pay out when
the time comes.
The specific country restrictions are annoying,
but it’s a complicated issued that rooms themselves often can’t fully control.
The final segment to be discussed in this
comparative review between PartyPoker and PokerStars is the support department.
Customer support can really make or break your overall experience, so let’s take
a look at what the two rooms offer.
PokerStars offers support via email and their
social media pages, particularly Twitter.
While you can expect to receive answers to your
emails quickly, support can sometimes seem reluctant to work with you to
resolve the problem or give you the unnecessary runaround. This isn’t to say
that their support department isn’t doing a good job, but there is definitely
room for improvement.
This is especially true since Stars support
used to be regarded as the best there is. A lot has changed in recent years,
and PokerStars of today is failing to live up to these expectations.
Contrary to this, PartyPoker provides
assistance via email, live chat, and phone.
They also have a rather elaborate help center
that takes you step by step to try and answer any questions that you might
have. So, Party is working harder to keep its players happy.
At the end of the day, you’ll get the help you
need from both rooms, but your experience might be more pleasant with
PartyPoker. Their agents seem easier to get in touch with and more willing to
work with you to resolve your issues.
PokerStars or PartyPoker: Which One Is Better for You?
This review should give you a pretty good idea
of what these two rooms have to offer, but you’ll have to make the final call
I’ve written down some quick tips that might
give you the final push, though:
If you want a solid rakeback, good
poker-focused promotions, and softer cash tables, you’ll have better luck at
Its cashback system is far superior to what
Stars has to offer, and its leaderboards offer better additional rewards to
boost your bankroll.
PokerStars is still the better choice for
tournament players if you want events with large fields and massive guarantees.
Party offers a solid schedule and some options, but its regular tournaments
usually don’t have huge guarantees attached to them.
Finally, Party is only a viable option if
you’re planning on playing Hold’em or Omaha. The room offers no other
variations like Stud or Mixed games, so if these are your cup of tea, you’ll
pretty much have to stick with PokerStars.