With the close of the 2006 World Championship of Poker, we continue to see the rise of Poker in popularity as the gambling sport of choice. This years award to the first place winner was 12 million dollars.
The grand prize of the poker championship has increased in direct equivalent to the increase in pokers popularity. In 2003, dubbed the Moneymaker Boom, Chris Moneymaker won a pot of 2.5 million for the World Series Championship. Moneymaker had earned his seat to the WSOP online.
What made his win the more noticeable was that not only was he an unknown poker enthusiast, he played online and won his spot by winning a $40.00 satellite. Since that time, poker players, both online and in live play, have come out of the woodworks making Texas Hold’em a nationwide spectacle.
In 2004, Greg Raymer won the main prize of $5 million, double the pot of the year before. Mr Raymer also won his seat online. In 2005, Australian Joe Hachem won it all for a prize of $75 million. He also won his seat online.
So, as we see that the WSOP grand prize is increasing exponentially with the increase of pokers popularity, what else is common between these three relatively unknown upsurpers of the worlds most extensive poker championship?
They all played online at the same site. They won their seat to the WSOP by putting up a small buy-in on PokerStars.net.
With 4 major online poker sites being consistently represented at the WSOP, how do we know which one is better than the other? Some may say there is no difference. Poker is Poker, right?
On first glance, I would agree. But being an avid poker enthusiast myself, I’ve downloaded and played 10 different poker platforms. PokerStars.net was the first platform I subscribed to. Not, as many had, when Chris Moneymaker won the big prize and brought the recognition of online players as a prominent contender for live competition. No, I ran to my computer and typed in the web address in a frenzy after seeing Greg Raymer win the following year.
I enjoyed playing PokerStars, but quickly became wary of the increasingly common “suck-out” problem that seemed to exist on this platform. I continued to play, despite a growing frustration that I understood many other online players felt.
Finally, after many hours of playing and seeing severe losses, not only upon myself but on other players that had the cards to win, I sent a letter to the PokerStars support team politely telling them of the problem and that I believe this problem went beyond a player just getting a few bad beats. In it’s response, the support team sent me links showing their proven randomness as the cards were dealt, and other technical information that did nothing to change my declining opinion of the poker platform.
So, I began looking for other platforms. I began downloading from different sites, and one by one I was deleting and uninstalling them. Different reasons were popping up, like, slow-loading, not very many games, player quality, prizes, etc. I finally found another site that I could compare to PokerStars.
I say this, because, although I wanted to leave PokerStars.net, I was not dissatisfied with the platform its self. Their promotions, amount of games, graphics, everything about PokerStars made it a very usable and enjoyable site to play. Except for the less than random bad beat scenario.
While flipping through tv channels one night, I happened upon Calvin Ayre’s Poker Classic. Calvin Ayre being a billionaire leader in online sports betting, casino and poker. He is the owner and co-founder of Bodog.net. And so, I went to check this site out and see what it was about.
The first thing I noticed about this site was it’s speed of loading, it’s graphical content did not belabor the ability to play as a lot of other sites did. You see, I do not enjoy having to spend the extra time watching cartoon representations of the players actually throwing the cards in, picking cards up, etc, etc……….when players are talking, I dont want to see bubbles of words above their heads. These are all things that slowdown the actual game.
Currently, I only play PokerStars and Bodog. In my opinion they are the two best sites. Although if you ask the site review specialists, Bodog comes in about 3rd or 4th and PokerStars comes in consistently at being the 6th best poker platform.
So, how would you know what poker platform is for you? Well, the leading site reviewers follow a set of guidelines when judging a site. I’m going to show you these guidelines and then review PokerStars and Bodog using those rulesets.
The common set of guidelines are these:
PROMOTION – Promotions are things that an online poker room may offer you to get you to play at their site over other sites. This could be anything that would attract you or give you incentive to play your poker there.
GAME PLAY – Game play involves many aspects of the online poker gaming experience. Game play includes everything from the quality of the graphics to the usability of the software.
GAMES – There are many different types of poker. Each online poker room offers it’s own list of poker games you can play. Most sites will allow you to play for fun or for real cash. Some sites also offer tournaments for those who like tournament play.
PLAYERS – A lot of your success at making money at an online poker room depends on the other players your playing against. You have to know who’s good and who’s not. It is also important to find a site with lots of players so you have a better chance of finding that game that is perfect for you.
SERVICE – The service a site provides it’s customers is very important.
This includes many different areas of the online poker experience.
A site with good service will have many different attributes
In my opinion, both sites are very good for gaming online and developing your skills in poker. But what are the differences? Are there any? Let’s find out.
In the category of Promotions, PokerStars sent over 1600 people to the WSOP thru satellites and freeroll contests. Bodog ran a series of contests that sent about 200 people to the poker championship. When the circuit events for the WSOP started, PokerStars continued their promotional games including daily freerolls for entry into large pot games. Bodog.net seemed to go dead when the World Series started. I would log on, and sure there would be people playing….but the daily 100k freeroll was almost limited to one per day, there were no special bigger prize free rolls or promotions. PokerStars: 20 Bodog: 10
Gameplay on these sites are similar. The speed of both platforms ranks at the top in my opinion. The games graphics are limited to the table and the cards, which makes the whole game run faster. As mentioned before, PokerStars has a suckout tendency in their game mechanics tho. This severely decreases the attraction to this platform. My experience on Bodog has been frustrating at times only due to “natural” losses or the occasional bad beat. Nothing like the disenchantment given by the pokerstars platform. The useability factor is just to easy to even discuss as a legitimate factor between these two online giants. One small difference between the two platforms is that Bodog offers an automuck feature, which definitely speeds up time between hands. Bodog: 20 PokerStars: 15
The choices between Games is equal on both. They have PL and NL Holde’m as well as Stud and Omaha. PokerStars: 20 Bodog: 20
One of the most important aspects to which platform you would decide to use is the quality of Players. Most review sites would base their opinion on poker ability in a player….are you playing against good smart players? Also, it is important to find a site with a lot of players. Since both these sites have good subscription rate, and there are players online at any given hour, we wont use this point in our judgement. PokerStars has some good quality players on their platform, just ask the world champions of 2003, 2004, and 2005. They all play on pokerstars. I didnt mention this before, but the 2006 winner of the WSOP is Jaime Gold, of Team Bodog. So, right away both platforms are represented by the top players in the game. Along with Mr. Gold, Team Bodog has the likes of David Williams, rated as being perhaps one of the hottest up and commers in the professional poker world. With that being said, there’s a player quality aspect that I feel is even more important. And that’s just general behavior and respect. PokerStars has to be the worst site I’ve ever seen in terms of this type of quality in a player. It’s almost as if everyone under the age of 18 has signed up for an account. The highschoolish nature of the comments and arguments that occur at a PokerStars table genuinely embarrasses me that I’m even playing. I have never had this problem on Bodog. Not saying that the problem doesn’t exist, it’s just my personal experience has not seen this problem. PokerStars: 5 Bodog: 18
So, on a scale of 1-20 for each point (20 being the best), and a possible score of 100, PokerStars comes in with 60 pts. Bodog.net scores 68. This doesn’t show much of a lead between platforms, and really, that’s appropriate. Both Platforms have much to offer in your poker experience. In my opinion, Bodog.net will offer more ease and pleasure to your gaming experience on the average.
It really all depends on what you’re looking for in your game. So, why not try out these two platforms and see for yourself which one you prefer. Chances are I may see you on one or the other.