Summary of PokerStars
All in all, few poker sites have been able to compete with PokerStars when it comes to a full-on, multi-dimensional online poker experience. And nothing still comes particularly close when it comes to poker tournament variety and life-changing prize pools.
That being said, though ... the times have changed lately and some new contenders to the online poker throne (cough, partypoker & 888poker) have made some very real inroads into PokerStars' longstanding dominance at the top of the industry.
As any Economics undergrad will tell you, competition is great for the consumer and the recent shift in the industry has forced the powerhouse brand to reinvest in the core values that made it the champ to begin with - giving diehard and amateur poker players a top-end poker product that gives them a fair shot at winning. How successful have they been at re-invigorating the spirit of the PokerStars brand? We'll see soon enough.
This is PokerStars
Make no mistake - despite an up-and-down few years PokerStars still sets the bar by most standards in the online poker industry.
The PokerStars software is still the best (by far), its game and tournament selection are second to none and its overall traffic volume on all of its branded sites (PokerStars.com, PokerStars.eu, PokerStars NJ and more) is still the highest (also by far). The new combined player pool for Spain, France, Italy and Portugal will also likely be the top in Southern Europe.
PokerStars also has standard-bearing new poker variations like Zoom Poker, Spin & Gos, Power Up, Home Games and Showtime to offer AND it's the only site where you can find action in Mixed Games and lesser-known poker variations like Courchevel and Badugi.
Did we mention live satellites yet? Because PokerStars still offers some of the most accessible ways to win packages to amazing live poker events like the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, the European Poker Tour and more.
Oh, and don't forget the Sunday Million. The crown jewel in PokerStars' massive daily, weekly and monthly tournament schedule the $1m guaranteed Sunday Million is still one of the most revered and frequented poker tournaments in the world with dozens of ways to satellite into the $215 buy-in event.
What About PokerStars USA?
As far as the USA goes PokerStars is only officially available to players in New Jersey right now, but within the state the player pool and tournament fields already look very promising. When a full and healthy interstate poker market is reestablished in the US we can't imagine PokerStars not finding a way to surge back the top of it - even with the lingering consequences of Black Friday still, uh, lingering.
About Those PokerStars Rewards
If you haven't been keeping up with the ins and outs of the poker industry for the past few years PokerStars has lost its footing with one outspoken corner of the poker world - online poker pros. Previously a very pro-friendly poker site with an extensive SuperNova rewards program and multiple ways of providing high-volume players with huge rewards, PokerStars took a sharp left a few years ago in an attempt to level the playing field once again between pros and amateurs.
They mothballed the Supernova and Supernova elite rewards systems, increased rake in or removed pro-heavy games and took steps to cut down on seating scripts and software tools that helped professional poker players find and exploit the weakest competition.
It wasn't received very well in pro circles and the way PokerStars went about doing it ruffled a few feathers and lost them several brand advocates. They also dramatically reduced their pro team and incorporated a new rewards system that prioritizes recreational players more than pros.
To cap things off it ended the popular European Poker Tour and replaced it with the mixed PokerStars Championship and Festival tours before reverting back to the EPT and its smaller tour brands after just a year or so.
All of those moves resulted in a general dint in the PokerStars brand - something that was once impeccable across all levels of poker players in the past. But the reasons for the moves, as PokerStars has claimed, is to revitalize an industry that had grown stale and bring back the fun and casual players to the game.
Is it working? Time will tell but things seem to be moving in the right direction and PokerStars continues to hold its spot as the flagship poker site for players of all stripes.
Promotions & Bonus Information
PokerStars offers a universal sign-up bonus for new players:
- 100% deposit match up to $600
This bonus is available to all new players who create a new account and make a first deposit. Even better you can make up to three qualifying deposits in 60 days to claim the full $600.
Take $30 FREE Play Right Away!
This is a truly great deal and requires no actual real-money play to redeem. To claim a free $30 in play on PokerStars all you have to do is make a first real money deposit of at least $20. That's it.
Then, here's what you get:
- Day 1: 5 x $1 Spin & Go Tickets (5 chances to win up to $10,000)
- Day 2: 5 x $1 Spin & Go Tickets (5 chances to win up to $10,000)
- Day 3: 5 x $1 Spin & Go Tickets (5 chances to win up to $10,000)
- Day 4: $5 Cash Bonus (Any games of your choice)
- Day 5: 5 x $1 Spin & Go Tickets (5 chances to win up to $10,000)
- Day 6: $5 Cash Bonus (Any games of your choice)
That's a total of $20 in Spin & Go tickets and $10 in cash, no string attached.
PokerStars Bonus Code
- For the full $600 match deposit use bonus code: STARS600
- To claim the free $30 in play use bonus code: THIRTY
PokerStars Bonus Payout
To redeem the PokerStars bonus you need to earn what are called "redemption" points. You can play either tournaments or cash games as long as they are for real money (not play money).
You earn 5 redemption points for every USD $1 you pay in rake or tournament fees (6.5 points per £1; 4 points per CAD $1; 5.5 points per EUR €1).
Once you reach 180 redemption points you'll have $10 of the bonus transferred into your Stars account. New players have a full 4 months after a qualifying deposit to redeem the full bonus.
PokerStars Promotions & Rewards Program
Ongoing promotions and freerolls are a big deal at PokerStars. Just a couple of years ago they even held four $1 million freerolls in a calendar year and while those days might be past there's always something free to take advantage of.
Freerolls with $1,000 prize pools are pretty frequent and you should always check your inbox for notices on new promotions. Special edition Spin & Gos are also offered pretty regularly with $1 million prize pools and all-inclusive packages to major PokerStars live events.
As for the new PokerStars Rewards program ... if you played at PokerStars in the past and expect something similar if you've come back to the fold, it's not really even in the same neighborhood. Which is both good and bad, depending on the type of player you are.
Gone are the days of the Supernova and Supernova elite programs where grinding millions upon millions of hands per month guaranteed you huge rakeback and rewards.
The new system is much more egalitarian and geared towards recreational and casual players who check in from time to time and don't want to "lose" their status level should the not play each month.
In the new Rewards system personalized 'chests' of prizes are awarded based on how many hands you play. You'll find lots of free tournament tickets, cash rewards or StarsCoin awarded regularly.
You still earn loyalty points (the above mentioned StarsCoin) for real-money play which you can then use to purchase items from the Rewards Store, buy online tournament tickets and even put toward live event packages.
Players earn 100 Reward Points for every $1 paid in rake or tournament fees and that fills your on-screen "progress" bar. Fill the bar and you get to open a new chest (which also awards you reward Points).
The contents of the chest are random so you could get anywhere from a chest worth $50 to one worth $1,000.
The traffic at PokerStars is market leading by a mile. There are thousands of players in ring games and in tournaments and play is open to most of the world. Since PokerStars truly is an international entity traffic is very high - especially in the European evening hours.
At no other site will you find tournaments with several thousand entrants on a regular basis. Some of them are really high buy-ins but there are also hundreds of cheaper tournaments such as the weekly Sunday $100K with a buy-in of $11.
Besides the ultra popular Texas Hold’em, Poker Stars offers amazing game variety including High and High/Low versions of Omaha and Seven-Card Stud. You can also play tons of Mixed Games and H.O.R.S.E., Razz and Omaha High/Low with a rarely found no-limit structure.
PokerStars was the first online poker site to introduce really, really low-stakes (micro-stakes) games with blinds starting at $0.01/$0.02. This concept is worth more for the large community of poker newbies and voluntary small-timers than we can really put in words.
It's now grown so big you can play a massive MicroMillions tournament series with hundreds of events twice a year.
PokerStars Tournaments - A Step Above
Cash-game traffic at PokerStars is around the clock (at least on PokerStars.com and PokerStars.eu). PokerStars NJ is also steady with cash-game flow. Generally speaking, no matter where you are in the world, you can find a table at your game and stakes on PokerStars.
That said, the site’s biggest selling point is definitely the PokerStars tournaments, something no other poker room can compete with (although give partypoker and 888poker for trying more and more).
Basically, if you like poker tournaments, PokerStars is where you will likely end up playing at least part of the time. The competition is stuff, sure, but the volume and variety are unmatched.
PokerStars Sunday tournament lineup, headed by the signature $1m guaranteed Sunday Million, is where the poker world comes to play every weekend and the prize pools can be, literally, life-changing.
Poker Stars spreads large numbers of well-filled satellites to most of its big tournaments - both live and online. You’ll always, of course, find plenty of satellites to the PokerStars Live events including the signature PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and the iconic European Poker Tour - now resurrected after a year or so as the PokerStars Championships.
Steps satellites start at 1c and you can win your way up to a high-end live qualifier in just 5 events. Daily qualifiers for the big Sunday tournaments run all week at various price points.
PokerStars Spin & Gos
When PokerStars launched its Spin & Gos back in 2014, no one had any idea just how successful they would become. In short order they became one of the most frequented parts of the site and still are to this day. They're so popular virtual every other poker site has launched their own versions of them.
Spin & Go’s are 3-player Hyper-Turbo tournaments with buy-ins from $0.25 to $1,000. Once 3 players have paid their respective buy-in and joined the table, a prize multiplier wheel is spun that randomly awards between 2-12,000 times the buy-in.
The top prize is $1,000,000. Most Spin & Go prizes are paid out to the winner but at the highest levels are split among all three players at the table. Spin & Gos are available in Omaha and for special prize packages like all-inclusive trips to the PCA.
PokerStars Zoom Poker
Another of PokerStars ultra-popular game variations? The much-copied Zoom Poker - PokerStars' variation of fast-fold poker. Launched in response to Full Tilt Poker's groundbreaking Rush Poker, Zoom Poker is as addictive as online poker gets.
When you fold your hand in Zoom Poker you're automatically moved to a new table with an entirely new hand. No more waiting to see a slow hand play out among your tablemates. Just ... zoom. Right to a new table with a brand new hand.
You can even auto-fold to make it even quicker. Sure, you lose a bit in terms of reads on your opponent, but the sheer volume of hands you can get in more than make up for it.
Zoom Poker is also available in tournament form and in Omaha, making it one of the most versatile "gimmick" forms of poker on offer. If you're a PokerStars mobile player it's also the perfect format for one-tabling on your phone or tablet.
Software & Graphics
Simply put, PokerStars' software is the standard bearer for the industry and, for most player, the best poker software ever made.
To start with, it's fully customizable to your own preferences. When you download PokerStars (for either Windows or Mac) you can replace the classic look with a number of other Poker Stars table themes and adjust virtually all of the features to your tastes, from the betting sliders to avatars to notes and beyond.
It has everything a poker player could want and from the lobby to the table to the cashier, everything is impossibly easy to navigate.
The launch of the high-speed ZOOM poker and the Jackpot Spin & Gos pretty much completed the total package for poker software. Newly introduced games, (which come out often), also set a new bar for both game variety and software.
The most recent PokerStars innovation, Showtime, reveals every player's cards when they fold to add yet another new twist on poker that keeps players, new and old, intrigued.
PokerStars's Power Up, meanwhile, is an exciting combination of eSports favorites Hearthstone and M:tG with different power cards you can use to evoke special powers at the table, like revealing cards or changing the flop, etc.
PokerStars Mobile App
As you might expect from the industry leader in poker software the PokerStars mobile app is also a cut above. It's available for both Apple and Android users and is a natural fit for playing on the go on your smartphone.
Functions and features are very well proportioned for both phone and tablet making misclicks a rarity.
A few of the customization options are lost from the full desktop version but not enough most players would notice.
As mentioned Zoom Poker is also a perfect fit for one-tabling on your phone or tablet as you are moved to a fresh table with a new hand immediately after you fold.
Multi-tabling on the PokerStars app (for those so inclined) is also surprisingly easy with a nice tiling option making it possible to play on up to 4 tables.
PokerStars Customer Support
One area where PokerStars loses a few points is with its customer support. For a site of its size it's surprising it doesn't offer any live telephone or chat support. You'll have to send an email or drop a line in the contact form on the website and hope for the best.
Replies do come pretty fast (usually within an hour or so, and that's with 24 hour support available). There is also a very extensive FAQ that should be able to help you out in the meantime. PokerStars does, however, offer support in dozens of languages so you will be able to sort things out in your native tongue (likely) than have to struggle through in English.
As to the quality of support it really depends on the customer support agent you get handling your request. Most are pretty great at their jobs and will help you out quickly and amiably. Some, however, could use some improvement in their bedside manner.
PokerStars Deposit & Withdrawal Options
As the biggest and most established poker site in the world - and full licensed and regulated in dozens of countries including the USA - PokerStars has dozens of deposit and withdrawal options available in every corner of the world it operates.
From standard credit cards to local debit cards to pre-paid cards, eWallets, bank transfers and money wires we'd be shocked if you couldn't find a convenient way to get your money on and off your PokerStars account.
That said, though, it does vary a bit by country and you might need to try a couple of different methods before you find the one most convenient to you.
PokerStars Deposit & Withdrawal Methods:
- Visa Electron
- Local debit card
- Bank Transfer
Some methods may or may not be available in your country. Similarly some methods may not work for withdrawals or there may be conditions on using it for withdrawals (eg had to have made a deposit using that method in past 6 months). Check your local PokerStars site for details.
Reload Your Account Right at the Table!
The Fast Deposit feature is an even quicker way to fund your Stars Account and supports Visa, MasterCard and NETELLER. Enable your 'Fast Deposit Account' and you can reload your account and make transactions right at the table.
Does not accept US Players
Isle of Man
Hits & Misses
- FPP store with good stuff
- Great heads-up play
- High-action ZOOM Poker
- Only e-mail support
- Tough games at the higher levels
- Poker Traffic
- Software & Graphics
- Bonus & Promotions
- Game Variety
- Soft Competition