best for a rookie smoker?
Easiest to handle; least likely to burn the meat up, etc. These are what I'd recommend for a rookie smoker.
With that, and without knowing which you're looking at, everything else being equal (thickness of steel; quality of build, etc.), the decision is fairly easy. Go with a reverse flow offset smoker. The reverse flow tends to distribute the heat and the smoke more evenly, therefore being a little more forgiving of mistakes.
I have 2 offsets; one that's reverse flow and the other not. They're both good smokers. However, I haven't touched my traditional offset smoker in years because I've never had the need to do so, and the reverse flow smoker has stayed fairly busy.
Best of luck with your decision.
Hance - Lake Dogs Cooking Team - MiM/MBN/GBA CBJ and comp cook
Lake Sinclair, GA (strategically about an hour from darn near anywhere)
Started competing in chili cookoffs back in the 1990's and have competed in more than I care to count. I became a CBJ in MiM in 2005, then MBN and in GBA in 2010. I've probably judged 130+- BBQ comps (sanctioned and unsanctioned) over this time. That said, I really enjoy competing more than I enjoy judging, and hope to get back to doing 4 or 5 a year in the near future.