PokerStars has been at the top of the industry for 20 years, providing the finest online poker experience for tournament and cash game players at all stakes and game types throughout the two decades.
The operator has established its presence in numerous European and global markets, offering top-quality online poker experience for players across all stakes.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2021, PokerStars is the longest standing major online poker platform, and certainly the one that has built the biggest brand over the course of the years.
In the early 2000s, PokerStars gained popularity for sending the likes of Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer and Joe Hachem to the WSOP through its satellites. These players’ success in the televised WSOP Main Events brought thousands of players to the platform and they never had to look back since.
Over the years, PokerStars built on its early success and continued to sign major players such as Daniel Negreanu, Jason Mercier, and Vanessa Selbst into its Team PokerStars. As poker kept growing on the international stage, so too did the PokerStars brand.
|PokerStars: Key Facts|
|Freeplay bonus||$30 after $10 deposit with code THIRTY|
|Deposit match bonus||100% up to $600 with code STARS600|
|Apps||Windows, Mac, iOS and Android|
|Main highlight||Best online MTT schedule|
The popular poker site took a hit on Black Friday in 2011, when both them and major competitor Full Tilt Poker were brought down by the US Department of Justice. While FTP failed to honor its commitments to the players at the time, it was PokerStars who took the responsibility and eventually paid out all the FTP players as well, massively building their renown as the good guys of the poker industry.
Today, PokerStars operates under new management and as part of the internationally recognized Flutter Entertainment group. However, PokerStars remains one of the biggest online poker platforms for international players, and its presence in the US market is also growing as much as the laws allow it.
New players who join PokerStars can claim one of two welcome bonus offers. The $30 FREE PLAY bonus is available to all depositing players, while the size of the deposit will determine the value of the match bonus a player can receive.
The $30 FREE PLAY bonus, which is issued to players who make the first deposit using the corresponding bonus code, is paid out as a mix of tournament tickets and cash bonuses over the first six days on the site, as follows:
When you claim your deposit bonus, you will need to redeem it by playing poker games on the site. Every $1 you pay in rake at the cash game tables or in tournament fees will earn you 5 redemption points, which means the bonus is cleared at a rate of 33% rakeback.
As you earn redemption points by playing poker, the operator will release your bonus into your cash account in $5 increments until you have released it in full.
The total value of the PokerStars welcome bonuses you can claim is $600. However, keep in mind that you will need to make a deposit of $600 to claim the deposit match bonus in full, as the operator will only match what you deposit into your real money account with this bonus.
On top of the welcome bonuses, there is a good selection of promotions and rewards to be claimed at PokerStars, which you can find out more about when you create your account or continue reading this review.
Built with the players and for the players, PokerStars Rewards is one of the most comprehensive online poker rewards system in the world and has recently been changed to offer more consistent returns to players across the board.
The most important thing to understand about the PokerStars Rewards system is that players can get up to 25% of the rake they pay at the tables back through the program. Even at the most basic level, PokerStars Rewards gives back 15% of all rake paid, without any strings attached.
PokerStars Rewards awards players with treasure chests which are won by playing real money poker and accumulating Reward Points. For every $1 paid in rake or tournament fees, 100 Reward Points are awarded to the player. Reward Points can also be won by playing casino games in Stars Casino or betting on sports on the operator’s betting platform.
As you earn more and more Reward Points, the value of the chests you receive will also go up. The following scheme explains how you can benefit from accumulating more Points in any rolling 28-day period:
|Chest Color||Points Needed||Chests to Level Up||Chest Value||Rakeback %|
The highest returns in the PokerStars Rewards program are reserved for the players who consistently accumulate high amounts of rake. However, with the difference between the levels not too dramatic, all players can hope for solid returns.
The PokerStars Rewards chests were recently remodeled from having variable value to fixed value, which was welcomed by serious poker players. The value of a chest is now known beforehand, while its contents can include tournament tickets and StarsCoins which can be redeemed in the Rewards Store.
Even more exciting for all PokerStars players is the introduction of the Monthly Poker Challenges, which now offer up to 40% in additional rewards for all players from the Silver level up.
PokerStars has recently revealed Monthly Poker Challenges, which build upon an earlier promotion called Exclusive Poker Challenges. Now, all players who have reached at least the Silver chest level are eligible for a Monthly Challenge, with up to 40% of all rake paid returned through it.
To activate your Monthly Poker Challenge, if you qualify for one, all you need to do is visit the My Challenges section in the PokerStars client and opt in for it. From that point on, you will receive pure cash through any real money play you put in at the tables.
The Monthly Poker Challenge is cleared in increments of 10% of the total value, which will depend on your chest level. For every $1 paid in rake, you will receive 5 redemption points for the challenge. The clearance rate may vary for some players, but the vast majority of all players will be awarded a Poker Challenge with a 40% return rate.
Keep in mind that you will still earn all the rewards from the PokerStars Rewards program as well, which means you could be looking at 65% of all rake you pay returned to your balance every month.
PokerStars is one of the biggest online poker rooms, so it comes as little surprise that their promotions are also among the most lucrative in the industry.
Players at PokerStars can look forward to a whole host of different promotions, with cash game, SNG, and tournament players all given plenty of opportunity to earn consistent returns or get lucky in a variety of ways.
The PokerStars promotions come on top of the welcome bonus and the PokerStars rewards, which are the more consistent ways in which the operator stimulates its customers. You can check out what promotions are active at all times on the operator’s website, but here are a few of the more interesting active ones at this time.
The popular Spin & Go tournament format has been one of the most played games at PokerStars in recent years, as it offers the opportunity to get lucky and win a massive prize at any buyin level, including the incredible $1,000,000 jackpot.
The jackpot can be paid out at any Spin & Go level with the following frequency:
Keep in mind that there is also a 300 in 10,000,000 chance of winning the second highest prize in each of these, which will be different depending on the buyin level. What’s more, the two runner-ups in the jackpot Spin & Go will receive $100,000 each for their effort and participation in the big event.
PokerStars is celebrating 20 years since its inception, and the birthday celebrations are bringing a ton of fun promotions, valuable poker tournaments, and more.
As part of the Big 20 promotion, PokerStars will be boosting all Spin & Go and Daily Cash Game leaderboards with more prizes than ever before.
The Big 20 Rewind segment of the promotion is bringing unique online poker tournaments, one for each of the 20 years that PokerStars have been around, with a massive prize pool offered in each.
The Big 20 promotion will end in The Big 20 Finale, a grand $5,000,000 guaranteed prize pool tournament with an affordable $55 buyin fee and a chance to change your life upside down in one lucky day.
PokerStars hosts a number of daily leaderboards for Spin & Go, NLH, and PLO players across all stakes.
For Spin & Go players, $24,500 in cash prizes is available every day, with eight different levels of competition. Massive value is possible for low stakes players, with the first place prize of $70 available at the $1 buyin level, while players at the higher buyin levels have to be content with more modest returns compared to the buyin.
All NLH cash game players can look forward to $30,000 in cash prizes given away via the Daily Cash Game Leaderboard. This promotion takes into account the first 300 cash game hands a player is dealt in a day. The value of players’ hole cards is counted, which means anyone can win their share of the money at any buyin level.
The Daily Omaha Cash Game Leaderboard works in the same way, with your first 300 PLO hands played in a day counting towards the leaderboard. The prizes are different at different buyin levels, but nice returns are available for the luckiest PLO players of the day.
For many years, PokerStars held the title of the absolute biggest online tournament poker room, and while GGPoker has given them plenty of competition, they still hold some of the biggest and most attractive online poker tournaments out there.
Not only does PokerStars host a number of popular online poker series such as the WCOOP, SCOOP and the Micro Millions every year, but it also boasts a massive weekly schedule of some of the most attractive poker tournaments out there.
While PokerStars hosts dozens of daily poker tournaments across all buyin levels and game types, it is the weekly tournaments that bring together the most players and offer the biggest prize pools in online poker.
The weekly schedule is made up of a series of tournaments running on Saturdays and Sundays, dubbed the Saturday Lineup and the Sunday Majors.
These major weekly tournaments offer some of the biggest regular prize pools in online poker, along with the special High Roller Club roster, which includes the following tournaments for the high rollers:
Along with the regular daily and weekly tournaments which you can find in abundance at PokerStars, the operator is also host to a number of seasonal online poker tournament series such as the WCOOP and SCOOP which are regarded as the biggest events of the calendar year in online poker.
The WCOOP first launched at PokerStars in 2002 and was meant to be the online equivalent of the WSOP. While WSOP now features its own online tournaments every year, PokerStars still has massive success with the WCOOP which it hosts every September.
The best thing about WCOOP compared to other online poker series is that it is a true festival of poker, not just NLH. The series offers events in all the games including Seven Card Stud, PLO, 2-7 Triple Draw, 8-Game, and others.
The events at the WCOOP have evolved over the years, but the biggest attention is drawn by the WCOOP Main Event which features a $5,200 buyin and a guaranteed prize pool of $10,000,000 which has not been met in full by the player buyins in 2020 and 2021.
Established in 2009, the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) was designed by PokerStars to give players an opportunity to compete in a major online poker series more than just once a year. The SCOOP features three separate orbits (high, medium, and low) just like the WCOOP and in 2021 featured a $100,000,000 prize pool overall.
While the SCOOP may not be as big of a deal in terms of tradition and prestige as the WCOOP, the Series offers some immense prize pools, with the High and Medium orbit Main Events both featuring $5MM prize pools in 2021, and the Low orbit Main Event with $109 buyin offering $3MM in prizes.
SCOOP is likely to keep coming back every April for the foreseeable future, with countless satellite tournaments allowing players to play the big events for cents on a dollar.
Thrown by PokerStars for the players who enjoy playing poker for lower stakes, the Micro Millions series offers the same kind of variety and incredible prize pools as the bigger series, with less money on the line.
The biggest Micro Millions event during every series is the Main Event, which features an incredible $1MM prize pool with just $22 required as the buyin fee.
What’s even more, players can compete in well over 100 different tournaments, with buyins as low as $0.55 and prize pools ranging from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. If you are new to online poker tournaments, the Micro Millions series is your ideal training ground.
The selection of cash game tables at PokerStars is unparalleled by any other online poker site, with more games, stakes, and table types available than anywhere else.
The site runs cash games from the lowest stakes of just $0.01/0.02 all the way up to high stake at $200/400, with NLH and PLO being by far the most popular games. Full ring, six max, and heads up tables are all available in both games and across the stakes.
Other games, such as Limit Hold’em, Seven Card Stud, and a variety of Mixed Games can all be found as well, with PokerStars being the only site to actually offer some liquidity in these.
On top of the regular poker formats, PokerStars has also started offering some innovative cash game tables in recent years. Zoom Poker has been around for a while and a great success for the operator, while more novel additions of 6+ Hold’em and Tempest Hold’em also gaining traction.
Zoom Poker has been around for a while now and it is the PokerStars’ edition of fast-fold poker, which has been massively popular among cash game players for the better part of a decade. Zoom Poker allows players fast play and more action, which makes it very attractive to pros and casuals alike.
At PokerStars, players can play NLH and PLO Zoom Poker games, with stakes starting as low as $0.01/0.02 and going all the way up to $10/20 for six max games and $50/100 for heads up tables.
6+ Hold’em, also known as Short Deck Hold’em, has gained massive popularity through the efforts of Triton Poker, who have been propagating the game in the media for a few years. The game follows rules similar to classic Texas Hold’em, but uses a deck of just 32 cards to spark more action, with all players paying an ante every single hand.
At PokerStars, players can enjoy 6+ Hold’em with antes starting at just $0.02 and going all the way up to $200 for the real thrill seekers.
PokerStars is one of the longest standing online poker sites out there, and it has processed millions of withdrawal requests with very few complaints or delays over the years. All cashouts from PokerStars balances are secured by the latest security technologies and the operator tends to pay out money faster than most competitors.
Players from various regions can use different withdrawal methods, but some of the popular ones include credit cards, Skrill, NETELLER, PayPal, MuchBetter, and wire transfer. In most cases, the payment method you used to deposit money into your PokerStars account is the one that will be automatically used to process your cashout requests as well, with withdrawal limits varying between different countries, payment methods, and account statuses.
For two decades now, PokerStars has been running one of the smoothest and most reliable online poker platforms in the world. Until the emergence of GGPoker, there was really no competition to PokerStars software, while today the two can be considered on equal footing.
PokerStars software is extremely reliable, handles massive player numbers without a glitch on a daily basis and offers a great number of amazing functionalities that make playing there an experience any poker player will enjoy.
If you have ever watched poker on TV, you may have seen pro poker players “run it twice.” Running it twice is something players do in live poker to reduce their variance in all-in situations, and now you can do it at PokerStars as well.
At cash game tables, when players are all-in, they can agree to run the remaining cards twice. If they each win one of the runs, the pot is split in half between them.
Are you tired of people sucking out on you when you have the best hand? PokerStars has introduced a feature that had you in mind, with All-In Cashout allowing you to pay out your equity whenever you are all-in with another player, regardless of whether they agree or not.
PokerStars do take a 1% commission on any All-In Cashout you make, but considering all-in situations are not too common in deep stack cash games, you will really be getting an opportunity to save yourself from having to sweat those turns and rivers the next time you are holding a set against a flush draw. The amount of money you get to cash out is exactly equal to your equity in the hand.
New players who sign up with PokerStars can expect to receive a welcome bonus package worth a total of $630. The bonus is paid out as follows:
The $30 is paid out to new players over several days in both cash and tournament tickets. The $600 welcome bonus is released through gameplay and accumulation of redemption points on the platform.
As one of the biggest online poker sites in the world, PokerStars offers a wide variety of promotions for both tournament and cash game players. Some of the more popular ones include:
Playing at PokerStars makes you eligible for participation in PokerStars Rewards as well as Monthly Poker Challenges. PokerStars Rewards give back up to 25% of all rake paid through Treasure Chests, while the Monthly Poker Challenge gives back 40% rakeback in pure cash to the vast majority of players.
Yes! Currently PokerStars is licensed for operation in New Jersey, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, three of the states that actually allow real money online poker. In the future, it is very likely we will see an expansion of PokerStars to new states as they regulate online poker and allow operators to team up with local casinos to offer online poker games.
Yes! If you live in the US, you will have to physically go to one of the three states in which the operator is licensed for real money play, and you will be able to join in the fun. Keep in mind that each state only offers an isolated player pool of players from that particular state and you will have to sign up through the local PokerStars app to join the games. You can sign up with any US address as long as your geolocation shows you are in an appropriate state while playing.
Yes! PokerStars offers full support for Hold’em Manager, as well as a vast variety of other popular poker tools in use these days. Unlike some of the competitors, PokerStars only bans tools that could potentially hurt the integrity of the game as such or allow players to actively cheat. Regular poker tracking software is allowed at PokerStars.
There are many things that make PokerStars stand out from the competition, but the operator’s size and massive player pools are probably the biggest one. PokerStars offers massive poker tournaments with tens of thousands of runners on the regular, along with cash games across all stakes and game types, and much more.
PokerStars also has one of the most attractive and player-friendly online poker platform, which allows for smooth play and an enjoyable experience with a variety of special features such as:
PokerStars USA schedules its first tournament series in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey in 2022.
2021 saw PokerStars face some serious competition for the first time in over a decade, but the iGaming giant rose to the challenge to retain its top spot in the global online poker world.
Fans of extra value got a special gift from GGPoker this holiday season with a new overlay bot on the operator’s Discord server.
November is traditionally a slow month in NJ poker, but WSOP jumped back to the revenue lead, while BetMGM was the only operator to grow throughout 2020.
Michigan online casino market over $100 million for third month in a row, and BetMGM controls nearly 40%.
A number of valuable promos are available each day at PokerStars’ Casino sites in Michigan and Pennsylcania, with daily Blackjack Insurance, Free Daily Bonuses, and special social media bonuses all available throughout December.
The two giants have nearly identical levels of traffic as we head into the busiest period for online poker.
While the rewards system, with fixed monthly rakeback up to 65%, has been revamped globally, the PokerStars USA ecosystem has yet to see the change.
New players can sign up and deposit any amount to get a free Big 20 ticket worth $55; and daily satellites are running now, as PokerStars announces $500,000 in extra value added.
$200k will be given away through PokerStars Ambassador Big 20 bounties, while an additional $300k in Winter Series tickets awarded to players who don’t make the money.