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From its origins at the forefront of online poker, PokerStars has become the most dominant poker brand in the world. Since it opened its virtual doors more than two decades ago, PokerStars has grown to have more than 89 million registered users, with about 5 million players active each month. The site hosts an average of 500,000 tournaments each day.
So besides its size, what makes this poker giant stand out from its competitors? Read our full expert guide to PokerStars to find out.
PokerStars welcomes new players with a welcome bonus featuring a deposit match and bonus funds. Upon redeeming the bonus, examine and familiarize yourself with PokerStars' unique “Redemption Points” system, where bonus funds transform into cash.
While playing poker earns you points relatively quickly, casino games have varying rates, and a set amount of these points converts into cash in your account. Remember, reading the fine print ensures you maximize rewards and minimize surprises.
PokerStars greets new players with a deposit match bonus, where the operator will match your deposit with bonus funds. It also offers chips for free play for the first week after you’ve deposited and played your first hand. This free play is redeemed as spin & go tickets, free spins at the StarsCasino (where available), and tournament entries.
PokerStars uses a Redemption Points system to convert bonus funds into cash, with differing points offered for poker games and its casino game selection. For poker games, you’ll redeem 5 redemption points for every $1 collected in rake. For casino games, you’ll have to wager anything from $7 to $90 to earn a single redemption point. For every 75 points you earn, PokerStars will credit your account $5.
This system is relatively unique to PokerStars and can seriously inhibit the value of your bonus. We’d like to see a simpler, lower, and easy-to-understand wagering requirement in the future.
Currently, there isn’t a PokerStars no deposit bonus for new or existing players. Despite this, you can enter freeroll tournaments that don’t require you to risk any of your own funds to enter once you've registered and deposited. These tournaments also allow you to win real money, and they’re a good way to get all the rewards without any risks!
Five states in the US currently have legislation that allows online poker: Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Delaware. Two of these states - Delaware and Nevada - only have online poker provided by 888/World Series of Poker (WSOP). PokerStars has launched in each of the other three legal online poker states. You can also play free poker anywhere in the US through its free play site, PokerStars Play.
PokerStars launched its legal online poker room in New Jersey in 2016, marking the first time the poker network was available in the US since Black Friday. It launched alongside StarsCasino – its site for New Jersey online casinos – offering slots, table games, video poker, and live dealer options.
The PokerStars site launched thanks to a license with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) through a land-based partnership with Resorts Casino. PokerStars NJ shares its player pool with its Michigan site for greater poker liquidity thanks to the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement.
Pennsylvania was the second state in the US where PokerStars returned, four years after its initial relaunch in New Jersey in 2016. The site gained a Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board license with the partnership with Mount Airy Casino.
Also, it launched a PA online casino, StarsCasino, which provides online casino games for real money. Unlike NJ and MI, PokerStars PA is not part of the MSIGA, which means players in the Keystone State might have to wait a little longer for a table, thanks to the lower player pool. We hope that for PA players' sake, the state joins the agreement to enhance their playing experience.
The Wolverine State welcomed PokerStars in 2021, with the site receiving a Michigan Gaming Control Board license through a partnership with Odawa Casino. Like its NJ counterpart, players in MI have access to a larger player pool thanks to Michigan’s inclusion in the MSIGA, meaning it offers enhanced player liquidity which should decrease wait times for tables and games.
Poker players can also access the PokerStars online casino in Michigan, with a vast selection of nearly 1,000 casino games, including hundreds of slots, 80 live-dealer titles, video poker, and table games.
The Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement represents a significant evolution in online poker in the US. Before its introduction, online poker was limited within state borders, decreasing player liquidity.
With MSIGA, Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and Michigan have come together to address this limitation. These states created a multi-state player pool by linking online gaming platforms. This offers a more dynamic and challenging environment for players and increases the potential prize pools, making the games more attractive and potentially drawing more participants.
Currently, PokerStars NJ and MI share player pools, meaning increased liquidity and potential prize pools for players. Pennsylvania has yet to join the MSIGA, meaning that if you’re playing on the PokerStars platform in the Keystone State, you may have an increased wait to find a joined table.
Playing online poker at PokerStars is an enjoyable experience, whether you play on your desktop or mobile. Its desktop and mobile app are designed with players in mind, and while our review team examined its performance, we found it to be a breeze to use.
The lobby is well-designed, and the desktop and mobile applications feature a powerful search feature that helps you find the games and available tables you want. In general, the liquidity was good and most tables didn’t require much wait time. However, you might have a bit of a wait at non-peak times to find an available game. More niche variants were subject to more of a wait, but this is to be expected.
One of the biggest strengths of PokerStars is the range of poker variations available at the cardroom, including popular poker mainstays Texas Hold'em and Omaha, alongside more exotic varieties like Badugi, a draw poker variant, and Seven Card Stud. Read below for a guide to the variants available at PokerStars.
PokerStars offers online Texas Hold ‘em, the most popular poker variant in online cardrooms. With this version of poker, each player will initially be dealt two “hole cards” face down, while five “community cards” will be dealt in the middle of the table. Initially, you will only be able to see the hole cards.
After the cards have been dealt, there will be a betting round. Two players, the big blind and the small blind, must make a bet regardless of the contents of their hands. The three cards, collectively known as “the flop”, are overturned, and another betting round occurs. Then, an additional single card, “the turn”, is overturned, and another betting round is initiated.
After that is completed, the final card, “the river”, is overturned, and a final betting round is completed. The player with the best hand from their hole cards and the community cards, determined by poker hand rankings, is the winner.
There are many similarities between Omaha and Texas Hold ‘em. You’re given hole cards and five community cards, and you need to construct the best five-card hand according to poker hand rankings. You’ll need to be aware of a couple of differences. You’re given four hole cards rather than two, and to win a round, you’ll need to construct the best hand possible with two of your four hole cards and three community cards.
While Omaha isn’t as popular as Texas Hold ‘em, it is one of the most common poker variants available at most online cardrooms. At PokerStars, you can play Omaha sit n’ go games, cash games, and multi-table tournaments. Despite this, you might find that the player liquidity is smaller, as fewer players tend to play this variant compared to Texas Hold’em.
Badugi is a draw poker variant offered on PokerStars. In this game, each player starts with four cards dealt face-down. The primary goal in Badugi is to have all four cards of different suits and ranks, which constitutes a Badugi. There are multiple betting rounds, and during each drawing phase, players can exchange zero to all four of their cards to strengthen their hands.
After three drawing and betting rounds, hands are revealed. The player with the best Badugi hand - having no matching suits or values - wins. The lowest hand of different suits claims the pot if no player has a Badugi.
Seven Card Stud, a classic poker game available on PokerStars, stands apart from common community card games. In this variant, each player is dealt a total of seven cards – three hidden and four visible to all. The game has no community cards. As cards are dealt, betting rounds are after the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and final seventh cards.
Unlike Texas Hold 'em or Omaha, where board cards are shared, in Seven Card Stud, players must rely solely on the cards they are dealt to form their best five-card hand. According to traditional poker hand rankings, the player with the best hand wins the pot. This game is a test of memory and strategy, as players must keep track of the exposed cards and make educated bets.
At PokerStars, you can indulge in various poker games, each offering a unique gaming experience tailored to different player preferences. Read below for a guide to some of PokerStars' most common game types.
Cash games are essentially games where you purchase chips equivalent to your buy-in. In contrast to tournaments, you can enter and leave games at any time, and there is no predetermined time limit for the games. Unlike tournaments, not every seat at the table needs to be filled for the game to go ahead. As long as the games have two players, you can play. There will usually be an upper limit to the number of players that can play.
Sit & Go tournaments require a certain number of players, usually six or nine, to be at a table before the game can begin and involves players buying in for a set rate rather than variable rates, as with cash games. No rebuys are available for sit n’ go tournaments, so once you’re out, there’s no coming back.
Spin & Go tournaments at PokerStars allow players to win up to 2,000 times their buy-in in mere minutes. Players begin with a 500-chip stack, and buy-ins range from $1 to $25. Still, the prize pool is multiplied by a random number before play starts, meaning you could potentially win up to $50,000 from a $25 buy-in.
PokerStars offers an extensive range of poker tournaments that cater to players of all experience levels and bankrolls. Its signature weekly events include the Deepstack Saturday and Friday Night Fight, starting at 8 p.m. ET with a buy-in of $100.
Players can indulge in The Daily Bigs, The Hot Turbos, and the Nightly Stars for daily action. The Sunday Majors, with tournaments like Sunday Warm-Up and Sunday High Roller, present lucrative opportunities with large guaranteed prize pools. PokerStars often tops up player-funded prize pools to meet guarantees, providing exceptional value.
You can also qualify for its live events, including its marquee PokerStars Live Tournaments – the Players No-Limit Hold ‘em Championship, the European Poker Tour, the Asia-Pacific Poker Tour, and the Brazilian Series of Poker – through qualifying satellite events online at PokerStars.
In addition, the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) is organized annually by PokerStars and is the online equivalent of the prestigious World Series of Poker. Satellite tournaments for this event, which can be accessed through play on PokerStars, can get you a coveted ticket to this event, which has an $80 million prize fund in 2023. There are also state-specific tournaments in each legal online poker state PokerStars is available.
When compared to competitors like BetMGM Poker, Party Poker, and WSOP, PokerStars' tournament offerings are diverse and often feature impressive prize pools.
A freeroll tournament is a competition that doesn’t require you to spend any of your own money to enter. These tournaments work exactly like regular real money comps. If you finish amongst the top players, you’ll win a cash prize that is withdrawable.
When our review team looked to see if PokerStars offered freeroll tournaments, we found that PokerStars Rewards members can gain freeroll tickets in their weekly rewards chests. Tier credits can be earned for every dollar spent at PokerStars cash games, Sit & Go, Spin & Go, and through its online casino, StarsCasino.
Freeroll tournaments are also available daily through the tournament lobby, allowing you to win real money without risking your own funds. To find freerolls, head to the Tournament/Tourney tab on the PokerStars desktop or mobile app and select the “Freeroll” option via the “Buy-In” filter. Overall, we were really impressed with the range of freeroll tournaments offered on the poker network.
If you don’t want to risk real money or you simply want to practice your poker strategy, PokerStars offers free play through its desktop and mobile software. Both ring games and tournaments are available for free play, and if you ever run out of chips, you can simply top up more without spending a dime! To get started, select the “Play Money” tab on the PokerStars desktop or mobile app, and browse the available tables and games.
PokerStars also offers PokerStars Play, a desktop and mobile app for free online poker, available nationwide. Even if you don’t live in a state with legal online poker sites, you can access and use this platform to play free online poker, much like a sweepstakes casino. While the app does contain some in-app purchases, these aren’t compulsory, meaning you can play without spending a cent.
PokerStars Rewards offers a tiered loyalty program where players earn weekly chests containing bonus bets, play, and spins, as well as PokerStars’ virtual currency, StarsCoins, based on gameplay. These coins can be redeemed in the PokerStars Rewards Store for everything from poker gear to luxury items.
As players progress through the tiers – ranging from Blue, the lowest tier, to Black, the highest – the value of these chests increases.
The program also includes weekly challenges and the best casino deals, sometimes even entries to live events. While PokerStars frequently updates its promotions and rewards, it's recommended to check the platform for the latest offerings regularly.
PokerStars stands out with its unique StarsCoins currency and extensive rewards structure compared to other online casinos. It's designed to cater to both die-hard poker fans and casual players. To maximize benefits, staying updated with the latest rewards is crucial.
PokerStars delivers mobile online poker through its highly-rated app for iOS and Android. It doesn’t offer a mobile site, and you can only play through the app, which disappointed us, but this is not unusual for online poker networks. However, the software is well-designed and gives you a great experience, and we were impressed with its functionality and performance across several devices. Read below for more information on the PokerStars App.
The PokerStars iOS and Android apps give players the chance to play all the same cash games, sit n’ go, and spin n’ go tournaments across each of its available poker variants, like Texas Hold ‘em, Omaha, Badugi, and Seven Card Stud. The app's design is well thought out and clean, and we found it incredibly easy to navigate and find the tournaments and game types we wanted. The app also has unique safety features only available via mobile, like Face ID.
Another thing we liked is the PokerStars mobile app's compatibility with tablets. A bespoke app has been designed for tablets, giving you a better experience than some poker apps that must be upscaled to fit the larger screen.
Players have rated the app 4.2/5 on the Google Play Store and 4.4/5 on the iOS App Store, with relatively few complaints about bugs or glitches. However, some have raised concerns about the app locking on autofold during play, meaning they cannot access the tables. We’d like to see these bugs improved in future updates. Overall though, the app is intuitive, functional, and we think you’ll be happy with its performance.
Signing up for PokerStars is a breeze, and in a few easy steps, you can enter cash games and tournaments on whichever device you prefer. PokerStars is only available through its desktop or mobile app, with Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android versions available. Follow our step-by-step guide to play poker at PokerStars.
For players on desktop:
For players on cell phones or tablets:
PokerStars Online Poker prioritizes the security and fairness of its games. Central to this commitment is the integrity of the game, ensuring no player gains an undue advantage. Their software employs an advanced random number generator (RNG) which relies on quantum theory, using the unpredictable behavior of photons to ensure total randomization.
Gaming Labs International has certified this RNG system to confirm its reliability. Additionally, the cards' shuffle is entirely random and doesn't favor any player, ensuring a level playing field.
Payment information is secured using SSL encryption, meaning you can make payments confidently, knowing your information is safe and encrypted. Their longstanding, independently verified reputation ensures a fair, safe, and secure gaming environment for all players.
Responsible gaming is paramount at PokerStars to ensure players enjoy a safe gambling environment. The platform has implemented several tools and features to foster responsible play.
First, self-imposed deposit limits allow you to restrict your deposit amount over a given timeframe. This prevents overspending and helps you maintain a budget. For those needing a break, PokerStars offers a 'Cooling Off' period where you can temporarily suspend their accounts.
For more severe concerns, PokerStars provides a self-exclusion feature, which locks you out of your accounts for a set duration. Additionally, there are links to professional help organizations for players who might be struggling with gambling issues. PokerStars ensures you have the resources to play responsibly and seek help when needed.
In addition, it gives information and contact details for several state-specific third-party resources and national organizations like the National Council on Problem Gambling.
PokerStars accepts various banking options to fund your account, which should satisfy most online poker players. These include bank cards like Visa and Mastercard, Instant Bank Transfer, e-wallets like PayPal and Skrill, prepayment cards PaySafeCard and PayNearMe, and eCheck. The minimum deposit amount is $10 for all payment methods.
While deposits are available for each method we’ve listed, withdrawals are unavailable for instant bank transfers or prepayment cards. The range of payment methods at PokerStars is solid and comparable to most of the online poker sites we’ve encountered in the US. We think you’ll be satisfied, and you should be able to find a payment method to suit your needs.
If you run into a problem while using PokerStars, you can access customer support through live chat, though its availability might be intermittent. If you want to speak to a PokerStars representative directly, you can contact them through the support contact form, accessible both on their website and within their software and apps.
Additionally, the PokerStars site boasts an extensive Help section to aid you further, with guides on various topics like deposits & withdrawals, poker software troubleshooting, and account management. Unfortunately, phone support is unavailable, which is disappointing and we’d like to see it added.
PokerStars launched in December 2001 as an online-only poker cardroom. But when Chris Moneymaker, a 27-year-old accountant from Tennessee, made headlines by winning $2.5 million at the 2003 World Series of Poker through an $86 PokerStars satellite tournament, the poker world changed forever. “The Moneymaker Effect,” saw millions of players from around the world take up poker in an attempt to become professionals or just improve their game and win big prize pots.
This growth was curtailed after the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA), which made payment for online gambling illegal in the US. This led to the domain seizure of PokerStars and other sites in the US in 2011, commonly known as “Black Friday” in the poker community. A year later, a settlement was made to allow PokerStars to launch and apply for a license should legal frameworks be created to allow legal online poker.
After five years, PokerStars returned to the US when New Jersey passed legislation to allow legal online poker for real money. Pennsylvania followed less than three years later, and PokerStars Michigan launched in January 2021.
In December 2022, PokerStars MI and NJ created a shared player pool thanks to the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), giving players from both states the opportunity to play in a shared player pool, resulting in more games and higher prize pools.
PokerStars has solidified its position as one of the leading online poker platforms in the US. With its broad game variety, lucrative tournaments, user-friendly mobile app, and top-notch security, it's a formidable option for both novice and veteran players. While there are some areas for improvement, particularly in the customer support domain, the platform's overall offerings are impressive.
Whether you're a casual player or a seasoned poker enthusiast, PokerStars US offers a comprehensive online poker experience. The platform's promotions and tournaments cater to players of all skill levels, ensuring there's always something appealing to dive into. As always, players should be aware of bonus terms and the platform's rules to maximize their gaming experience.
Emma Trotter is a Senior Editor at Casinos.com. Emma has worked as a staff writer and editor for nearly two decades, extensively covering celebrity news and the Las Vegas entertainment, casino and tourism scenes. She spent several years in in-house roles at Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Las Vegas before stepping into iGaming affiliate site content.Read Full Bio
Yes, PokerStars is a legitimate poker operator. Its parent company, Flutter Entertainment, is one of the largest gambling companies in the world and operates a range of other gambling sites, including sportsbook and daily fantasy sports provider FanDuel.
PokerStars releases a schedule for its live events and World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) satellites and tournaments at the beginning of each year.
Absolutely, poker players in the Garden State can claim a range of generous bonuses at PokerStars. You can also get free tournament tickets and game entries through the PokerStars rewards program.
PokerStars can be downloaded as an app on the Google Play Store and iOS App Store. The poker network has versions of its mobile online poker software for cell phones and tablets, so however you want to play, you’ll be satisfied.
PokerStars provides a deposit bonus for new customers. With this offer, PokerStars will match a certain percentage of your deposit with bonus funds that you can use for tournaments, poker games, and casino games on the PokerStars online casino.
When you play poker at PokerStars, you can use promo codes to redeem exclusive promotions and bonuses. These can include bonus play, tournament tickets, and bonus spins at PokerStars online casino.
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