PokerStars Review

Top line: PokerStars is one of the biggest names in the online poker world, legally operating in several US states at the moment.

$50 in Free Play

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100% up to $600

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Welcome Bonus
4.6
Promotions
4.5
Rewards
4.7
Tournaments
4.9
Cash Games
4.8
Software
4.8
Our Rating
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4.7
Key Takeaways
  • Best online tournaments
  • Great range of game variations
  • Limited promotions

The leader in the international online poker scene, PokerStars only joined the regulated US market in 2016, after finally receiving a license to launch in New Jersey. It was a rocky journey for the operator that had to deal with a number of issues that slowed down the process of entering the US, including the events of Black Friday.

While the first part of the journey was a long one, it did not take PokerStars long to take the lead in New Jersey, becoming the biggest operator in the state. Soon after, the room expanded its presence to a couple of more states in Michigan and Pennsylvania, with its eyes set on further expansions in the future.

PokerStars has a lot going for it, but its massive brand is perhaps the biggest factor that helped the operator attract big player numbers right from the get go. Combined with quality software, great game selection, and great tournament series, PokerStars US has gone from strength to strength over the years.

Right now, PokerStars operates separate rooms in individual states, without sharing player pools across state lines. This could change in the near future as well, as there have been significant legal movements, opening the door for the possibility of states entering interstate agreements, which would allow operators to combine their liquidities across borders.

Welcome Bonuses

Welcome Bonus
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4.6
$50 in Free Funds

All players in the USA have access to the identical and fairly generous PokerStars welcome offer. The welcome package consists of two parts, one targeted at more recreational players, while the other is better-suited for more serious grinders.

As things stand right now, the PokerStars welcome bonus is quite decent, with $50 in free play available to players after completing a very simple requirement of playing just one raked hand, and a 100% deposit match up to the maximum of $600.

PokerStars $50 Free Play

All newcomers to any of the PokerStars US sites can get $50 in free poker funds to get them started. There is no deposit requirement to claim the offer. However, players are required to play one raked hand within the first five days from registering to trigger the bonus, so the only realistic way to actually take advantage of this offer is by making a deposit.

To get the PokerStars $50 free bonus, follow these steps:

  • Make any deposit via the cashier (no bonus code required)
  • Opt-in for the offer via the Challenges window
  • Sit down at any cash game table and play just one raked hand

You will qualify for the free money offer and will receive the full package worth $50 in total, consisting of the following:

  • Two $5 Spin & Go tickets released immediately
  • One $10 MTT ticket and two more $5 Spin & Go tickets on Day 3
  • Two $10 MTT tickets on Day 5

It is important to mention that this part of the bonus comes with no restrictions or wagering requirements to worry about. Players are free to use their tickets in any of the qualifying tournaments and all winnings are added to their real money balances, which means they can be withdrawn immediately.

PokerStars US 100% up to $600 Deposit Bonus

The second part of the welcome bonus is, as mentioned, geared more towards serious players, although there is absolutely no harm in taking it even if you want to deposit just the minimum. It is still some extra cash you can add to your bankroll.

The PokerStars deposit bonus works the same as most poker room bonuses, where the player’s deposit is matched in full, but funds are added to the bonus balance and released in increments instead all at once.

To claim the bonus, follow these steps:

  • Visit the cashier and make a deposit (the room will match up to $600)
  • Use the bonus code STARS600

Keep in mind that you do not have to make the full $600 deposit in one go. PokerStars allows players to make up to three deposits during the first 60 days and claim a 100% match on all of them as long as the total does not exceed $600. Simply use the code STARS600 every time you deposit.

As mentioned, funds are added to your bonus balance and released in increments as you generate rake and collect player points. For every 140 redemption points collected, $10 will be released into your real money account. Redemption points are generated at a rate of five points for every dollar paid in rake.

Promotions

Promotions
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4.5
Somewhat Infrequent

When it comes to promotions, PokerStars may not be as colorful as some other US rooms, but that is primarily because the operator is more focused on their loyalty program, which somewhat removes the need for random promotions as players constantly have access to various rewards.

This is not to say that the room does not have any noteworthy promos, though.

The operator will frequently host leaderboards and competitions for its players, where the goal is usually to play as much as possible or outperform other players to climb the rankings. Those achieving the best results will receive rewards in the form of bonuses, tournament tickets, merchandise, and more.

The best way to keep up with the PokerStars US promos is to regularly visit the relevant site of the state you are playing in. The room also does a pretty good job of keeping players up to date about the most recent promotions via email and their social channels, so it is unlikely you will miss out on any good offers, but a proactive approach is still the best way to make sure that you do not.

Rewards

Rewards
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4.7
Quite Decent

As already mentioned, PokerStars puts a lot of emphasis on its rewards program, which is designed to reward players across all of their products (poker, casino, and sports betting). In some ways, this is not ideal for poker players, which is something the room has recognized and made certain changes on the international platform, but these are still to be rolled out in the US.

The loyalty system in place is known as Stars Rewards and it uses the system of Chests to reward players for their efforts.

The most important thing to keep an eye out on is the Progress Bar, which is always visible in the PokerStars client. With every dollar paid in rake, the Progress Bar moves forward, bringing you closer to the next Chest. Once the bar fills up, players get to unlock the next Chest and receive rewards contained in there.

These rewards can come in the form of cash, tournament tickets, and Stars Coins, which you can use to redeem further goodies in the Rewards Store.

PokerStars Chests Explained

While the Chests system is not the easiest to understand and there are far simpler ways of rewarding players, we will try to explain how things work. In a nutshell, there are six different chest levels available, with everyone starting at the Blue Chest and working their way towards the largest, Black Chest. The value of prizes contained in chests is not fixed, but it is within certain limits, namely:
  • Blue: $0.36 – $6
  • Bronze: $0.72 – $12
  • Silver: $1.80 – $30
  • Gold: $6 – $100
  • Diamond: $15 – $250
  • Black: $42 – $700

As you would expect, lower values are much more common, while the highest ones are pretty rare. Your odds of receiving the highest possible value of any chest are 1 in 1000.

After you unlock several chests of one level (Blue, for example), you will move on to the next one, i.e. Bronze. Of course, filling up the progress bar becomes increasingly difficult as you move up toward bigger prizes, but there is no one-fit-all formula. How long it takes a player to unlock the chest can vary, depending on their player profile.

Where Is PokerStars Legal?

As mentioned in the introduction, PokerStars is probably the biggest online poker operator in the United States at the moment. However, as of the time of writing this PokerStars US review, the operator only has presence in three states, namely:

  • New Jersey — this was the first state that PokerStars joined in 2016. Albeit late to the party and having to compete with already established sites like WSOP and partypoker NJ, the operator quickly took the top spot, attracting a great number of players.
  • Pennsylvania – PokerStars was the first poker site to go live in Pennsylvania in November of 2019. For a long time, it was the only poker room operating in the state, which allowed PokerStars to establish a great foothold in the Keystone State. Although new operators joined in 2021, PokerStars remains firmly on top.
  • Michigan – Just like with Pennsylvania, PokerStars was the first site to enter the newly regulated iGaming market in Michigan. The launch happened in late January 2021. Led by the previous experience, the room quickly grew its presence in the state, launching interesting promotions and organizing big tournament series with generous guarantees.

How to Join PokerStars

  1. Follow our link – the link will take you straight to your state page so that you can avoid any potential registration issues. Once on the page, you can begin the account creation process.
  2. Click the green ‘Join’ button — the button is located in the top right corner of the website and it will open the first form for you to fill in.
  3. Fill in the basic info – enter your email, desired username (alias), and the password you want to use.
  4. Enter your personal details – in the next form, enter your personal details, like name, surname, date of birth, etc. Make sure to enter these correctly as this step is very important for your account to be successfully verified.
  5. Download the software – Use the links on the page to download the software to your PC or to get the app for your phone. Once downloaded, install the software, and you are good to go.
  6. Log in & deposit – Enter your username and password combo to log into the software and access your account. Go to the cashier, make a deposit using your preferred method, and you are ready to jump straight into action.
  7. Before you start – Make sure to opt in for the free $50 offer from the Challenges window to get your freeplay welcome package as soon as you play your first cash game hand.

Registration Requirements

PokerStars is open to all residents of the United States who are of legal age to gamble, i.e. 21 years of age or older. You can access all state sites and complete the registration process from anywhere in the world, but only US residents can actually register and play. You need to have an SSN to be able to play on PokerStars US.

While you can register from anywhere, you will only be able to play on the site while physically present within the borders of the state licensing it. So, you can open PokerStars NJ, PA, and MI accounts, but you will only be able to play on PokerStars MI while actually in Michigan.

The room may ask you to send additional documents to complete your account registration. This is done to confirm your identity and ensure no problems moving forward. While PokerStars will ask you to provide a lot of personal information, this is no cause for concern, as the room has to adhere to very strict laws that protect players’ data, which means you can rest assured that they will not fall into wrong hands.

Mobile App

Mobile
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4.8
Top-quality Apps

PokerStars has always been on the forefront of technology and the operator’s software and mobile app are one of the best in the industry. With more and more players turning to their handheld devices to enjoy their poker sessions on the go, the room has further revamped its mobile app to meet this demand.

The app is available for Android and iOS devices and you can get the one you need by following the links on the site. The download and installation process is quite seamless and not different from that of downloading any other app.

Features

The PokerStars mobile app offers a great variety of features that will make your gaming experience pleasant. These are some of the top ones:

  • Full access to all the games — you will have access to all the tournaments, sit and goes, and cash games from the app.
  • Great user interface – the mobile app features a very nice and player-friendly design that does not take long to get used to. All action buttons are of just the right size, minimizing the chances of any misclicks.
  • Great for multi-tabling – You can play up to four tables at the same time, and the app has a great system in place to warn you whenever it is your turn to act on any of the tables that are off the screen.
  • Quick seat options – If you want to get in the action straight away, use the quick seat feature for your desired game type, and you will be seated in a matter of seconds.
  • Track your Rewards progress – stay up to date with your Rewards progress, opt-in for the Challenges, access the Rewards Store, and more — all using the PokerStars mobile app.

Game Selection

Of all the regulated rooms operating in the United States, PokerStars is by far the most versatile one when it comes to game selection. Offering different game variations and coming up with new formats, the operator has managed to stay ahead of the curve.

Poker Tournaments

Tournaments
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4.9
Best MTT Options

PokerStars has always been known as the best site for tournament players worldwide. Over the years, the room has hosted numerous major events and series featuring massive guarantees and attracting hundreds of thousands of players.

The operator has taken this successful practice into the US market as well. Starting from the launch in New Jersey, PokerStars has established itself as the go-to place for tournament players, offering versatile daily schedules and regular series in every state they operate in.

Some of the best examples of this are the room’s state-level online championship series, namely NJCOOP, MICOOP, and PACOOP. With dozens of events featuring all buy-in levels and different game formats, the room caters to recreational players and serious MTT grinders alike.

The daily tournament schedule is excellent as well, with the best action taking place on weekends, with events like Sunday Storm, Sunday Special, and Sunday Supersonic.

Cash Games

Cash Games
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4.8
Excellent Game Variety

One area where PokerStars really stands out from the competition is the variety of gaming options on offer. While most other US rooms stick to one or two most popular formats (i.e. Hold’em and Omaha), PokerStars gives players a chance to also try their hand at many less popular varieties, like:

  • Seven Card Stud
  • Razz
  • Badugi
  • Five Card Draw
  • 2-7 Triple Draw
  • 5 Card Omaha
  • Courchevel
  • and more…

In terms of available stakes, the range is just as impressive and player-friendly. There are micro-stakes tables featuring blinds of $0.01/0.02 on the low end of the spectrum and $25/50 games on the high end. Of course, there are several levels in between, allowing players to pick the games best-suited for their bankrolls and gradually move up.

Spin & Go

The popular Spin & Go format is now available across all PokerStars US sites. As you might know, these are three-hand sit and go tournaments, where the top prize is determined at random at the start of the tournament and it can be anywhere from 2x to 1000x the buy-in.

US players will find several levels of Spin & Goes, starting at $1 and going up to $25. The traffic is usually quite good, so there is no need to wait for too long for tournaments to fill up and start, especially at lower levels.

Banking

Banking
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4.9
Easy & Fast Withdrawals

PokerStars players in the US have all sorts of options available to them for deposits and withdrawals. Some methods are only available in some states, but, in general, there is a good range of options across the board.

Deposits

PokerStars rooms in the US generally accept the following deposit options:

  • Mastercard
  • Visa
  • Skrill
  • PayPal
  • PayNearMe
  • Bank transfers

In New Jersey, players also have the option to deposit via the cashier at the Resorts Cage and use PokerStars Play+ card.

Withdrawals

The withdrawal options are not as numerous, but they are still more than enough to meet most players’ needs. These include:

  • Skrill
  • PayPal
  • Bank transfers
  • Cash at the cage (where applicable)

PokerStars is usually very quick to process any and all withdrawal requests, and when using e-wallets like PayPal or Skrill, funds are often sent out in a couple of hours at the most. Other methods can take a few days to clear, but this is purely due to the way transactions are handled by the payment provider and has nothing to do with PokerStars.

How to Withdraw Funds

  1. Log in to your PokerStars account
  2. Navigate to the cashier section
  3. Select the withdrawal method and enter the amount you wish to cash out
  4. Confirm the transaction and the money will be sent your way

Customer Support

PokerStars pays a lot of attention to the customer support department, ensuring players always have access to the important information and someone who can help them out in the event of any issues during their gameplay, deposits, withdrawals, and anything else.

The ‘Help’ section on the websites contains a lot of useful info on various topics, and everything is neatly arranged into appropriate categories. This makes it very easy to browse the knowledge base and find answers to specific questions and queries.

Players can also reach out to the support department via email or Twitter to get in touch with an actual person who can help them out sort any problems they might be experiencing. The support team is generally quite responsive and helpful, which only adds to the user experience.

FAQ

Is PokerStars legal in the United States?

Yes, PokerStars is legal in the United States, although it is currently available only in a handful of states. You are only allowed to play on the site while physically present in one of these states.

What US states is PokerStars licensed in?

At the moment, PokerStars has gaming licenses to provide online poker services in New Jersey, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Do I have to be a resident of one of these states to play on PokerStars?

No, all US residents are allowed to create an account with any and all licensed PokerStars sites. However, you will only be able to play on any respective site while physically present within the borders of the state licensing the operator.

Is PokerStars rigged?

No, of course not. PokerStars is fully licensed and regulated by state regulators in the US. This means their software is regularly checked for fairness to ensure safe and truly random gaming experience that the operator doesn’t interfere with in any way.

How long do withdrawals from PokerStars usually take?

The time it takes for your cashout request to be processed depends on the withdrawal method selected. When using e-wallets such as Skrill or PayPal, you can expect the funds to appear in your account within a few hours. Other methods, like banks and eChecks can take a few days to fully clear.

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