The two poker rooms together have more players than the next 40 largest sites combined. More players translates to more fish at the tables – and that’s what we want! At any given time there are between 10 000 and 25 000 active cash game players at Full Tilt and between 20 000 and 40 000 at PokerStars; for the sake of comparison the third biggest site is Party Poker with a daily average of mere 3000.
If you don’t have experience playing poker online (or just want to play poker for fun), it would be best for you to sign up at both poker sites and play with virtual money for a few days. This would allow you to get familiar with the software and also to see how well you handle the “recreational” level of competition.
Quick review and comparison between the top two online poker sites
Level of Competition
While the regular players at both poker sites are moderately tough, the enormous size and the established marketing image of Full Tilt and PokerStars insure a steady flow of new, inexperienced and wild players (i.e. money donors). The low and micro stakes at both poker rooms sites are abundant loose action; in addition with careful table selection you can find juicy games at the middle stakes as well.
Promotions and Free Stuff
Both sites have similar promotions starting with up to 600$ sign-up bonuses (which you have to clear out by playing) and various additional incentives like free poker tournaments with a guaranteed prize pool. The PokerStars VIP Program is widely regarded as the best available on the web, with players collecting credits by playing and in turn trading the credits for cash bonuses and a bunch of merchandise available at the online store. Full Tilt offers a bonus program with similar functionality, although with more limited options.
Stability and Security
Both poker sites are the industry standard in terms of software and its usability. There is no definite winner in this category.
In my experience the support team at PokerStars tends to respond quicker (most often in a matter of hours) to e-mail inquiries. Full Tilt support answers a little slower – it could take up to a day (or two at the most).
Full Tilt is an excellent choice for cash game players – the lower limits (and some medium stakes tables) usually offer plenty of loose action.
PokerStars is the top poker site for tournaments at all buy-in levels. There you’ll find everything – from various SNGs (including the Double or Nothing format, missing on Full Tilt), free-rolls and cheap satellites for online and live events to the biggest weekly (Sunday Million) and annual (World Championship of Online Poker) tournament series in the world.
Although very similar in quality and functionality, each poker room had its definitive strengths, so my advise is to simply sign up to both sites to extract the most value. If I had to pick just one, I would go with PokerStars for both tournaments and cash games.