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PokerStars is the world’s largest and probably best-known online poker operator. The operator dealt its first hands of real money online poker in 2001 and has built its stellar reputation and global presence in the decades since. It has led the market since with its best-in-class online poker product, superb mobile app, and top-class technical support.

In this in-depth and unbiased guide to all things PokerStars US, we’ll compare and contrast the operator’s three poker rooms — PokerStars MI, PokerStars NJ, PokerStars PA —

Although PokerStars is currently live in three US states, there is no shared liquidity between the three online poker sites. While Michigan officially became a part of the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (aka MSIGA), opening the door for multi-state online poker, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) has yet to authorize any operator to combine their player pools across state lines.

However, we expect Michigan shared liquidity to go live any day now. When it does, PokerStars will surely link up its Michigan room with its New Jersey — another MSIGA state — player pool to create the first PokerStars US Network.


pokerstars
Last verified: Nov 2022
Our #1 Rated US Online Poker Room
100% deposit bonus up to $600!
  • Play one hand & get $50 in tournament tokens
  • Top-quality mobile app
  • Best online MTT schedule
  • #1 Rated online poker room in the US by pokerfuse.com

PokerStars in the US

PokerStars US was initially refused entry to the regulated US market because it decided to continue catering to American players after the passage of the UIGEA. However, the company eventually made it into the regulated market in the States, where it has continued to grow and prosper, as one of the biggest brands in North America.

The first US PokerStars site to go live was PokerStars New Jersey, which launched in 2016. After that, the operator launched PokerStars Pennsylvania in 2019, followed by the launch of PokerStars Michigan in 2021. In each state, PokerStars came hot out of the gates, usually being the first site to launch, and proving itself to be a force to be reckoned with, rising to the top of each market and holding tight to that number one spot.

While each room currently operates independently with no shared liquidity,
changes are on the horizon, though, and we are likely to see the PokerStars US Network go live at total capacity in the near future. With the DOJ passing on the opportunity to appeal the court decision reverting the Wire Act interpretation to encompass only sports betting, and Michigan joining the MSIGA, the future of multi-state poker looks pretty bright.

As of 2022, PokerStars US operates three state-regulated rooms. These are:

All three rooms share many similarities, the most notable being the same software used across all regulated markets. Poker players in the US get to play on the same best-in-class platform available to the rest-of-the-world player pool.

However, individual rooms offer different tournament schedules, cash game limits, and game formats, so there are some differences to be aware of. We are bringing you a quick overview of all PokerStars US sites with links to in-depth reviews if you want more information.

PokerStars New Jersey

PokerStars NJ was launched in 2016 after the company was finally given the green light to apply for the license, which was subsequently granted. It was a significant step into the young but promising regulated online poker market of the United States.

New players can choose from two welcome bonus options:

  • $50 worth of Freeplay funds after playing a single cash hand
  • 100% match bonus up to $600 on the first deposit

The operator has brought some variety to the online poker tournament scene in the US. In addition to daily and weekly tournaments, PokerStars NJ is also home to a major tournament series — New Jersey Championship of Online Poker, or NJCOOP for short. The series traditionally features more than 50 events and more than $1,000,000 in guaranteed prizes.

Players in New Jersey also have access to Spin & Go tournaments, a hugely popular, jackpot-style format, offering a chance to win up to 1000 times the buy-in.

Regarding cash games, the New Jersey branch of PokerStars’ US operations features several variations beyond Hold 'em, such as Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud, and Five Card Draw. Stakes range from $0.01/0.02 to $25/50.

Download the PokerStars NJ app and get in on the action or head to our comprehensive review to learn more about PokerStars NJ Real Money Poker »

PokerStars Pennsylvania

After successfully operating in New Jersey for several years, PokerStars has expanded its presence in the regulated US market by acquiring a license to operate in Pennsylvania in 2019. This was the first and, at the time, only online poker operator in the state. The room’s land-based partner is Mount Airy Casino.

New players here can also look forward to a nice welcome bonus, choosing between $50 in tournament tickets after playing just one cash hand or a 100% match up to $600.

Following on the experience from NJ, PokerStars PA continued to go strong with the tournament offering, creating PACOOP and PASCOOP, big online series offering a great selection of events and big prize pools across the board.

Tournament players enjoy an excellent leaderboard, offering additional prizes and motivation to keep the grind going.

When it comes to cash games, the range of stakes is similar to that found on other PokerStars US sites, i.e., from $0.01/0.02 up to $25/50. The selection of game variations is quite impressive, including Hold 'em, Omaha, Stud and Stud 8, Razz, 2-7 Triple Draw, 8 Game, and more.

Sign up for PokerStars PA and start playing or head to our comprehensive review to grab the latest PokerStars PA Bonus Code »

PokerStars Michigan

PokerStars MI was added to the US PokerStars presence in January of 2021, becoming the first regulated poker room in the state.

Like the rest, the operator welcomes new players in style, with two welcome offers to choose from:

  • $50 in tournament and Spin & Go tickets, or
  • $100% up to $600 on the first deposit

The operator wasted no time launching the Michigan Championship of Online Poker (MICOOP), creating something for all tournament fans’ in the state to look forward to.

Players also have access to the operator’s trademark Spin & Go tournaments and a great variety of cash game options across all stakes, from Hold 'em and Omaha (including 5 Card Omaha) to Stud, Razz, 2-7 Triple Draw, and 8 Game tables.

Download the PokerStars MI app and get in on the action or head to our comprehensive review to learn more about PokerStars MI Real Money Poker »

pokerstars
Last verified: Nov 2022
Our #1 Rated US Online Poker Room
100% deposit bonus up to $600!
  • Play one hand & get $50 in tournament tokens
  • Top-quality mobile app
  • Best online MTT schedule
  • #1 Rated online poker room in the US by pokerfuse.com

PokerStars’ Casino & Sportsbook Offerings

While PokerStars in the United States is primarily focused on online poker, the company took full advantage of its gaming licenses in the states they operate in, launching other products, namely casino and sportsbook.

State Sportsbook Online casino
New Jersey Yes Yes
Pennsylvania Yes Yes (Stars Casino PA)
Michigan Yes (Fox Bet MI) Yes (Stars Casino MI)

Players do not have to make new accounts to access these different products. As long as they have a poker account with the operator in the particular state, they can also access all other available products.

PokerStars and Online Poker Regulation in the US

Following the events of Black Friday in April of 2011, the online poker environment in the US has changed dramatically. All major operators were forced to leave the market, leaving players with minimal options in the form of smaller, unregulated, and questionable international sites.

As bad as these events were for online poker, they did serve as the much-needed push for regulation. Regulating online poker on the federal level was not possible, but individual states could pass separate bills.

2012: US Online Poker Goes Live Without PokerStars

It all started in Nevada in 2012. Being the gambling hub of the US, it was hardly a surprise this was the first state to have regulated online poker. However, PokerStars US would have to wait for a few more years as Nevada’s gambling bill included what is known as the “bad actors” clause.

In short, this meant that any operator that continued catering to US players after the passage of the infamous UIGEA (in October of 2006) could not apply for a license. PokerStars, as you might know, was one of these sites, as they only left the US after Black Friday.

Delaware was the second state to pass the iGaming bill, only days after Nevada. Delaware did not include the bad actor’s clause in the law text, so there were no obstacles for PokerStars to try and apply for a gaming license. The operator did exactly that when the state lottery invited interested operators to apply in 2013.

However, the room failed to acquire the license as the Delaware Lottery decided to go with 888 and Scientific Games. So, PokerStars turned its sights to the only other regulated state at the time.

2016: First PokerStars US Site Goes Live in NJ

The first real opportunity for PokerStars in the US came with New Jersey. The state passed the online gambling legislation in 2013 and the bill’s final language did not include the bad actor’s clause. This meant that the room was free to apply for the license.

However, because of its past, the room still had to undergo a very rigorous process to acquire a license. The NJDGE took a full 14 months to review the application. Owned by Amaya during that period, PokerStars had to prove it was worthy of participation in the NJ regulated market.

In the end, the regulator was satisfied with the review results, which included sworn interviews with more than 70 individuals, and was granted the license in 2015.

But there were more issues to overcome. All state laws require online operators to have a physical presence in the state through a licensed brick-and-mortar venue, and NJ was no exception. So, before the company could start operating in the state, it had to purchase or partner up with a physical casino in Atlantic City.

After some back and forth and a failed attempt to buy a casino in AC, PokerStars has finally partnered up with the Resorts Casino. With that partnership in place and the gaming license issued by the NJDGE, the room went live in the state in March of 2016, setting the foundation for PokerStars in the US.

PokerStars NJ was late to the party to some extent as there were already several rooms operating in the state, namely WSOP NJ, 888, and Borgata Poker NJ.

2018 and Beyond: PokerStars Takes US Regulated Market by Storm

After initial enthusiasm, there came a rather long quiet period for online poker in the States. Looking to boost their numbers, the first three regulated states entered an interstate compact, allowing them to share player pools across state borders. However, not much else was happening.

Several states have been toying with the idea of online poker regulation, but there has been no real movement. Bills were proposed, rejected, and redrafted, but regulated online poker remained limited to the initial triumvirate.

Then, in 2018, Pennsylvania passed the all-encompassing online gambling bill, covering casino gaming, sports betting, and online poker. A year later, in 2019, the first online casinos went live in the states, and some months later, the state got its first online poker room in PokerStars PA.

Since there were no legal obstacles, the operator quickly took the opportunity and improved the presence of PokerStars in the US. PokerStars was the only online poker operator in the state for a couple of years, eventually joined by Borgata Poker PA and BetMGM Poker PA in 2021.

Michigan and West Virginia were the last states to pass online poker laws. Both states regulated online gambling in 2019. In Michigan, PokerStars was the first online poker room to go live in 2021.

West Virginia still has no online poker despite the legislation. The size of the market is the most significant limiting factor. With a population of around 1.8 million, the state does not represent a big enough opportunity for major operators to apply for a license.

Year Legal developments Significance for PokerStars USA
2012 Nevada launches online poker PokerStars cannot apply for a license due to “bad actors” clause
2013 Online poker bill goes live in NJ WSOP NJ and Borgata first operators; PokerStars joins in 2016
2018 Pennsylvania regulates online poker PokerStars becomes the first poker operator in the state in 2019
2021 Michigan passes an iGaming bill PokerStars is the first operator to go live with online poker
pokerstars
Last verified: Nov 2022
Our #1 Rated US Online Poker Room
100% deposit bonus up to $600!
  • Play one hand & get $50 in tournament tokens
  • Top-quality mobile app
  • Best online MTT schedule
  • #1 Rated online poker room in the US by pokerfuse.com

PokerStars in the US: Highlights

Although PokerStars was not the first room to enter the regulated market in the US, the operator has achieved many significant milestones over the years it has been active in the regulated states. This applies primarily to MTTs, which are PokerStars’ specialty.

  • In April 2016, PokerStars launched NJSCOOP with $1.1 million in guarantees and $200,000 guaranteed Main Event
  • In October of the same year, the operator premiered NJCOOP with the guaranteed prize pool of $1,250,000
  • Both series still run regularly

PokerStars in the US has significantly transformed the online tournament scene. It replicated what they did in NJ in Michigan and Pennsylvania as well.

  • PACOOP was launched in 2019
  • The first edition of the MICOOP took place in 2021

Running large tournament series with dozens of events and big prize pools was definitely the most significant contribution of PokerStars in the real money US online poker market. However, other notable highlights are worth mentioning.

They were the first operator to take on the newly regulated markets in PA and MI. While others, like BetMGM and Borgata, hesitated with their online poker product, PokerStars wasted no time. Thanks to this decision, players in both states did not have to wait too long for the opportunity to play online poker.

pokerstars
Last verified: Nov 2022
Our #1 Rated US Online Poker Room
100% deposit bonus up to $600!
  • Play one hand & get $50 in tournament tokens
  • Top-quality mobile app
  • Best online MTT schedule
  • #1 Rated online poker room in the US by pokerfuse.com

PokerStars USA FAQ

Can I play PokerStars in the US?

Yes, PokerStars is available in the US, but only in a handful of states at this point. Only players physically present in Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania can play online poker on PokerStars US.

Is PokerStars legal in the USA?

PokerStars in the US is fully legal as the operator is licensed by individual states where it offers its services, namely MI, PA, and NJ. State regulators have issued relevant licenses for PokerStars in the US, making it a completely safe, secure, and legal option for online poker in these states.

Do all US PokerStars players play together?

No, at least not at this point. The room only accepts players from the particular jurisdiction it is licensed in, so players from PA cannot currently play against those in NJ. However, this is likely to change soon. With Michigan joining MSIGA, that opens the doors for PokerStars to combine its MI & NJ player pools. Should PA join MSIGA, allowing PokerStars to connect all three states into one network, it would become the largest regulated US online poker network.

Can I play on PokerStars anywhere in the US?

No, you must be physically located within one of the states where the room is licensed to play for real money. Players do not have to be residents of these states as PokerStars is open to all US residents, but when playing for real money, every player must be within the borders of the licensing state.

Can I play on PokerStars US from Europe?

Just like you cannot play from other US states, you cannot play on any of the PokerStars US sites from Europe. This is unlikely to change even if interstate compacts are allowed. It will probably take a while before US players can play against the rest of the world on PokerStars or any other US-licensed site.

For more about playing on PokerStars from outside the US, see our comprehensive guide to PokerStars Real Money global online poker.

Can I travel from Europe and play online, or do I have to be a US resident to play on PokerStars US sites?

To register with any of the PokerStars USA poker sites, you will need a SSN and a physical address in the US. So, it is impossible to travel to the United States as a tourist and play online poker while there, even if you are staying in one of the states where PokerStars is licensed.

Is PokerStars US available on mobile phones and tablets?

Yes, all US PokerStars apps are available for players to download and use on their handheld devices. The same rules apply, though, meaning that players still have to be physically present in the state that licenses the site they want to play on.

Latest PokerStars US News

Poised for US Shared Liquidity, PokerStars Expands its US Ambassador Roster
Poised for US Shared Liquidity, PokerStars Expands its US Ambassador Roster

PokerStars USA signs Michigan-based poker streamer David Kaye in what could be another move towards the launch of shared liquidity between NJ & MI.


Which State is Next for US Online Poker? Part III: Kentucky
Which State is Next for US Online Poker? Part III: Kentucky

Ruby red Kentucky seems like an odd place for online poker, but efforts to legalize it and sports betting have come progressively closer over the last three years. Third in a series.


More Platinum Passes on Offer to US PokerStars Players
More Platinum Passes on Offer to US PokerStars Players

This November, players in PokerStars’ US jurisdictions — MI, NJ, PA — will have six chances to win a Platinum Pass to the PSPC returning to the Bahamas in January.


Is a PokerStars MI & NJ Shared Pool Looming? "Exciting News Coming Soon," Says Operator
Is a PokerStars MI & NJ Shared Pool Looming? “Exciting News Coming Soon,” Says Operator

PokerStars US could very well be just weeks away from launching its multi-state online poker platform as the operator drops a big hint.


The 6 States Most Likely to Launch Online Poker Next
The 6 States Most Likely to Launch Online Poker Next

Recent developments suggest Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, & West Virginia could soon join the five states where online poker is currently legal.


PokerStars USCOOP 2022: Everything You Need to Know About the Upcoming Championship
PokerStars USCOOP 2022: Everything You Need to Know About the Upcoming Championship

$4.5 million is guaranteed in the 2022 PokerStars USCOOP across NJ, MI, & PA, with almost half of that prize money earmarked for the Championship events.


Does FanDuel's Return to Nevada Mean PokerStars Can Go Back, Too?
Does FanDuel’s Return to Nevada Mean PokerStars Can Go Back, Too?

Many believe that FanDuel regaining market access in NV is an encouraging sign that PokerStars may eventually be allowed to do the same.


PokerStars to Award Dozens of Platinum Passes to Players from the US
PokerStars to Award Dozens of Platinum Passes to Players from the US

Plenty of Platinum Passes to the 2023 PSPC will be up for grabs via PokerStars live (yes, PokerStars is returning to the live felt in the US!) and online poker tournaments.


PokerStars Strengthens Game Integrity with Live Event Bans
PokerStars Strengthens Game Integrity with Live Event Bans

The operator moves to improve the live game environment by ensuring any player banned from its online platform will also be blacklisted from playing at PokerStars-sponsored live events.


PokerStars US Network Launches Cash Game Leaderboards
PokerStars US Network Launches Cash Game Leaderboards

For the first time, PokerStars announces daily cash game leaderboard promotions for players in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.