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PokerStars has been the name to beat in online poker for the better part of two decades. The company first went live in a regulated U.S. market in 2016, starting with New Jersey. Ever since, PokerStars has remained a pillar of The Stars Group’s iGaming portfolio along with FOX Bet and PokerStars Casino. Now servicing several legal states, PokerStars is firmly established as the market leader in legal online poker.
Follow along as we breakdown PokerStars in all its glory. From available states, to promotions, game selection, and tournaments. We’ve got it all covered below. Get ready to post your blinds.
In available states, PokerStars will grant new users a choice of two great promotions: a 100% deposit match bonus up to $600 or $30 in free cash and tourney tickets.
|PokerStars US Bonus Code||Just click here|
|Free Money Offer||$30 Free (NJ), $50 Free Play (MI/PA)|
|Deposit Match||100% up to $600|
|Details||Select one of the two bonus offers|
|Bonus Valid||July 2021|
Interested in locking up a little free cash? With use of our link and the bonus code FREE30 new PokerStars players can earn $30 completely free to help run up a roll. Simply deposit $20 or more using the bonus code and it’s all yours. $10 will be added to your balance for immediate use, and an additional $10 bucks will be sent over a week after your initial deposit. Further, on Day 1 you’ll be given 3 separate $1 Spin & Go tickets. On Day 2 you’ll receive two more, and on Day 3 users will get the big one – a $5 Spin & Go credit.
In total, it’s $30 in free money that can be used on cash games and tournaments.
In the states of Michigan and Pennsylvania the $30 Free offer is replaced by a $50 Free Play. Sign up, opt-in at the ‘Challenges’ section of your account, and hit the tables to play just one real money cash game hand and you’re all set. After meeting the requirement PokerStars will give you a chest with two $5 Spin & Go tickets on day 1, two $5 Spin & Go tickets and a $10 ticket on day 3, and two more $10 tickets on day 5. In total it’s $50 in PokerStars tournament tickets.
You must play your first qualifying hand within 5 days of creating the account to be eligible. Also, be sure to open the prize chests when you get them. They will expire after a week.
If you’re hunting bigger game, the available deposit match bonus can yield a much larger return. Initial deposits using the bonus code STARS600 are good for a 100% up to $600 deposit match bonus. That means that PokerStars will grant you a bonus equal to your first deposit, capped at $600. What’s more, as long as the follow up deposits are made within 60 days of the first, you can re-use the bonus code 3x until you hit the $600 max. For example, you could deposit $200 and claim $200 in bonuses. Then, follow up with two additional $200 deposits at different times during the 60-day window to cap the offer and secure the maximum $600 in bonuses.
Poker match bonuses aren’t generally credited up front, you’ll have to play to unlock it. Every $1 in rake that is contributed at the tables will net 5 Redemption Points (RP). For every 140 RP earned, Stars will free up $10 in bonus cash and add it to your balance. This means that while you’re clearing the bonus, its possible to receive up to 35% back on your contributed rake – an excellent value.
Poker players that opt for the deposit match offer will have four months to clear their bonuses, otherwise they’ll expire.
|State||Bonus||Casino Partner||Launch Date|
|New Jersey||Just Click Here||Resorts Casino Hotel||March 21, 2016|
|Pennsylvania||Just Click Here||Mt. Airy Casino Resort||November 4, 2019|
|Michigan||Just Click Here||Odawa Casino||January 29, 2021|
Michigan sports betting, casino, and online poker all debuted in January 2021. PokerStars was the first poker room to set up shop in the state, its third American market. The Odawa Casinos in northern Michigan are PokerStars’ brick-and-mortar partner, more specially the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. PokerStars MI features a full suite of poker, casino, and sports betting apps in partnership with FOX Bet. There are no interstate player pools just yet, but the possibility of shared liquidity with other legal U.S. poker states remains a possibility.
Mount Airy Casino is the retail partner of PokerStars in Pennsylvania, the second state to secure access to the platform. The way current legislation is written, PokerStars in PA will be able to pool players with other states, but it hasn’t launched that feature yet. Users also have access to sports betting and casino games in the Keystone State on top of a full array of poker games.
PokerStars launched its first legal poker room in the United States in New Jersey on March 21, 2016. The company operates in the state through a licensing agreement with the Resorts Casino, one of Atlantic City’s oldest and most well known venues. New Jersey has moved forward with interstate player pooling that includes both Delaware and Nevada. However, since PokerStars has yet to launch in those states, it hasn’t had an impact yet. Once New Jersey links up with other states like Pennsylvania and Michigan we can expect fireworks on PokerStars. NJ also offers all iGaming verticals, including sports and casino.
PokerStars is playable through designated state-specific apps on all major devices.
The sign-up process is as follows:
Remember, all legal online gambling in the U.S. is restricted to users 21+ and is state-specific. For example, if you’ve downloaded the PokerStars client for Michigan, you can only play real money tables while you’re physically in Michigan. You can still access your account and cashier from anywhere, but you can’t place bets unless you’re physically in the state (you don’t have to be a resident, just 21+ and not excluded from play by employment or Responsible Gaming initiatives).
Notably, PokerStars requires a WiFi connection (not ethernet) for geolocation.
PokerStars is available for iOS, Android, and computers that can download and install the PokerStars desktop client (Mac and Windows versions are available).
The mobile version of PokerStars is a great way to keep your poker skills sharp, even if you’re on-the-go. It’s difficult to make online peer-to-peer poker work on a mobile interface, but this app passes muster. Everything you need is readily available through a nested series of categories, including your preferred type of limit, variant, and more. While it may not be the most comfortable way to play a long multi-table tournament, it definitely works – and you can even play more than one table with relative ease.
Despite the many benefits of mobile, the desktop version is the classic way to play poker online, and thus a more complete experience:
Generally speaking, online poker software is a little bit more complex than sports betting or online casino games. This is because of the massive community aspect to the game: with casino and sports betting, you’re rarely (if ever) competing against other players, and instead are attempting to predict outcomes better than the house or beat a game of chance. With poker tables, having extra space to clearly lay out all of the available information is important so that you can always make your best choice.
The PokerStars app is a powerhouse of online poker: you’ll have access to everything you could possibly need on one dynamic screen that updates with live tables. The lobby is clearly laid out, finding and filtering games is easy, and you can even observe other real money tables.
On the whole, the desktop client is a lot more versatile than the mobile version, offering better options for organizing your screen. If you’re a player that looks to really improve their chances by playing multiple games, increasing volume to decrease variance, the PokerStars desktop software is the way to go.
Cashiering and banking methods differ from state to state. For a full breakdown of what’s available in your state of choice, check with PokerStars in that specific region. Commonly accepted methods for deposit and withdrawal include:
PokerStars relies primarily on its welcome offer to draw in new players, and its rewards program to keep them happy. It’s not uncommon for them to roll out reload bonuses and other like promotions at various times throughout the year, too. For example, if PokerStars PA is gearing up for the PACOOP tournament series, they may offer a reload bonus to help players resupply their account. One thing you will always be able to take advantage of as an existing user is the Stars Rewards program.
This loyalty program should definitely be kept in mind as you start playing with PokerStars because it’s a great way to get extra cash and rewards just for playing poker with the service. Stars Rewards is a tier-based rewards system: earn points for your play and receive exclusive, personalized promos and cashback rewards. The more points you earn, the more you get back.
Stars Rewards operates on a 28-day rolling cycle. As you play you earn Rewards Points which fill a corresponding Progress Bar. Once the bar fills, you earn a chest. Each chest is filled with rewards of varying value. As you open more chests, you will climb higher in the loyalty program and begin opening better chests. The better the chest, the better the rewards you get from them. Chest values include:
If you earn 10 chests at your current level during a 28-day period you will be upgraded to the next tier. Chest rewards often include StarsCoin, the Stars Rewards currency that can be redeemed for cash, bonuses, tournament tickets, or items in the Rewards Store.
A lot of folks are probably wondering about rake rebates: are there any promotions that enable me to recoup some of the rake (the amount that the poker platform charges to play on the site)? The Stars Rewards program enables you to get cashback rewards that can fill this void. It’s not always predictable value though, as chest value is randomized.
Poker has numerous supposed ancestries, from the Persian card game Ah-Nah to the French poque. Disputed origins aside, the consensus is that modern poker as we know it evolved from card games played in the 18th century in the Mississippi River area. The game branched off and diverged into hundreds of variant types, as anyone with a deck of cards and a bit of time on their hands could not only play existing variants but play around with new types. PokerStars now prides itself on bringing an outstanding variety of poker options to its U.S. players. The most popular games include:
This is the most commonly played poker variant in the country by a long shot. If you’ve watched any televised poker event or played for quarters in your friend’s basement, you’re aware of Texas Hold’em. Cards are ranked high-to-low, and players have three betting rounds on top of the pre-flop action to make the best hand they can from their two hole cards and the community cards. These community cards are dealt in three stages – the flop (3 cards), turn (1 card), and river (1 card). No Limit Texas Hold’em is the most common version.
Omaha is another Hold’em variant wherein players have to assemble the best possible five-card hand. In contrast to Texas Hold’em, players are dealt four hole cards instead of two. Participants must use two, and only two cards out of their four card holding to make the best hand. Omaha is most commonly played in pot limit formats, and generally allows for a little more action. Omaha Hi/Lo is also a very popular.
While Hold’em and Omaha are the most common online poker games, it doesn’t stop there. PokerStars spreads plenty of different games. Each offers players something different. The catalog extends to:
PokerStars offers many of the above poker games with different ‘Limits’. Limit, No Limit, and Pot Limit are the three primary betting limitations spread on the site.
Limit games have set stakes and betting limitations. For example, a $1/$2 Limit table all bets will be made in increments of either $1 (early streets) or $2 (later streets). The most you can bet at a given time is $2, and the most you can raise is $2. Pots can still balloon, but there’s no ‘All-in’ move that puts everything in play. While some games like 7 Card Stud are always played in Limit formats, other games can too. Limit Hold’em and Limit Omaha are common.
PokerStars No Limit games are as they sound: there’s no limit to the bet size. There are limits to the minimum/maximum buy-ins and blind sizes, though. No Limit tables still have set stakes, however, at a $1/$2 table you could bet your entire stack at any moment. No Limit Hold’em, and to a lesser extent No Limit Omaha are the most common NL games.
Pot Limit games allow players to bet a maximum of the current pot size. In Pot Limit games the amount you can wager is restricted by the action before you, overbetting the pot isn’t allowed. Imagine arriving at the river in a hand of Pot Limit Omaha. You’ve got $200 and your opponent has $100. You want to put them all-in, but the pot is only $30. The most you can bet is $30.
Though the rules for games like Texas Hold’em may not change, the way you choose to play them will depending on the format. PokerStars offers a great selection of popular ways to play, including:
Cash games are the most common form of poker game, and it’s likely you’ve played something similar sitting around a table with friends. Cash games mean that each chip has a dollar value, and you can buy back in if you lose your whole stack. The blinds never increase at a cash game, and always stay a fixed amount. Also referred to as “ring” games, you can sit down to play or get up and leave at any time. There are no restrictions. Stakes generally range from $.01 / $.02 blinds, up to nosebleed stakes.
Multi Table Tournaments (MTTs) are played on multiple tables with plenty of entrants. You pay the entry fee and start with a set amount of tournament chips. These chips don’t have monetary value though, they simply represent your life in the tournament. The goal on a tournament is to be the last player standing, once your chips are gone, you’re out. Avoiding elimination is the primary goal and the longer you last, the more money you stand to win… but they’re a commitment. Tournaments can take hours, so make sure you’re ready to play for a while. Get some energy drinks.
To encourage action and move things along, the blinds will gradually increase over time during poker tournaments. For example, a tournament might start players with 10,000 chips and blinds of 25/50. However, after an hour of play the blinds might be 100/200, meaning each pot will be bigger and more significant in relation to your chips.
Tournaments come in all shapes and sizes. Some may allow for rebuys or re-entry, some may place a bounty on each players head, and others might have super fast (or slow!) blind structures. PokerStars is famous for offering one of the best tournament schedules around with all sorts of options.
Sit & Gos are tournaments that start whenever the predetermined number of players is met. For example, a one table SNG will start as soon as 9 players post the entry fee. Multi-table SNGs also exist, but the single table versions run far more regularly. While they are poker tournaments, they play much differently than their multi-table brethren.
Spin & Go’s are lightning-fast games where you sit at a 3-max table and start with just 500 chips. The blinds increase very quickly, meaning they’re fast and furious. Where does the ‘Spin’ come in? The prize pool isn’t directly connected to the entry fees, but instead a random award that could be up to 1,000x your initial buy-in. If you’re looking for a quick way to have a chance at a huge payout, Spin & Go games are the ones to check out. The spin takes place before the game starts, so everyone knows what they’re playing for. Spin & Gos are a PokerStars exclusive – you won’t find them anywhere else.
Once you know the game you want to play and the desired format, PokerStars allows you to customize things even further. You can even decide how many players you want to play against. Obviously when playing ‘Heads Up’, against just one opponent you will win more pots than at a ‘Full Ring’ table of 9… but the risk may be greater. PokerStars again offers plenty of choice here:
PokerStars hosts some of the largest online poker tournaments both domestic and internationally – it’s what they’re known for. Here at home, the Championship of Online Poker series’ are alive and well. PokerStars COOP events are amongst the most prestigious, and lucrative in the game.
The first of the major online PokerStars tournaments in the U.S., NJCOOP took some years to find its stride. Now that online poker is again gaining momentum in the states, NJCOOP continues to impress with an exciting play schedule, bonus events, and prizepools crossing $1 million. If you’re a NJ poker player, the NJCOOP is as big as it gets.
The PACOOP (Pennsylvania Championship of Online Poker), typically held in late September, is a gauntlet of must-play events culminating in an exciting Main Event. Prizepools for the series top $1 million, making it amongst the most exciting offerings in the state. Only PA players are eligible to compete in PA Championships– this includes the Spring version of the tournament, the PASCOOP.
It didn’t take long for PokerStars to debut its first Michigan Championship of Online Poker. Less than a month after dealing its first hands in 2021, the MICOOP was officially underway. Whether the MICOOP remains a February tradition or shifts to the fall (more likely) remains to be seen, but regardless of when they hit the schedule – MICOOP tournaments will draw interest.
PokerStars was a brainchild of the Scheinbergs, a father and son team offering real-money poker through their Costa-Rica based Rational Enterprises. The company shifted to the Isle of Man – securing an EU license in 2012. PokerStars enjoyed a great deal of success in both the domestic and international markets in the 2000s to 2010s, setting all kinds of records. That international success would prove to be a life preserver, as PokerStars’ operation in the U.S. hasn’t always been smooth sailing.
April 15, 2011 saw a devastating blow befall the online poker industry. Dubbed Black Friday by online poker fans and pros alike, the major online poker sites of the day – PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and UB/Absolute Poker were shuttered for U.S. players with funds seized. Legal action was brought in the form of a federal suit against some key providers: United States v. Scheinberg et. al.
In the suit, the District Court for the Southern District of New York indicted members and affiliates of three of the country’s major online poker providers: AbsolutePoker, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. Reports state that these three companies represented 95% of the U.S. online poker market at the time. The Court’s claim was that these online poker providers were in direct violation of the UIGEA or Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, accused of bank fraud and money laundering, among others.
Thus, Black Friday was the day that effectively pulled the emergency brake for online poker in the U.S., halting operations and causing numerous providers to pull out of the American market. Players across the country were dumbfounded.
Though a serious setback, PokerStars was able to weather the Black Friday storm. The company swiftly cashed out its American players and re-prioritized its gaming efforts to cater to other countries. PokerStars would eventually absorb Full Tilt as a result of the shake-up.
Legal, regulated online poker first emerged in the United States in 2013. Without federal law, poker legislation must be pursued at a state level. New Jersey was the first to do so. While continuing worldwide growth, PokerStars kept an eye on the U.S. – and New Jersey in particular. Following the company’s sale to Amaya in 2014, the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement gave the green light for a return to the U.S. Through a licensing arrangement with Resorts AC, PokerStars began dealing legal hands in the Garden State in March 2016.
Now owned by Flutter Entertainment, the PokerStars platform is available for legal play in several jurisdictions, and is expected to continue its expansion in years to come.
Once the cat is out of the bag, it’s hard to stuff it back in. The battle continues to define and regulate online gambling, but an important aspect of politics and lawmaking is precedent— and here, we have a veritable duffel bag full of precedent in the form of favorable court opinions, overturning of federal laws barring gambling, and clarifications from judges that poker is a game of skill and can be played for real money in the U.S.
We look forward to more states legalizing online poker, leading to more interstate compacts, which of course means bigger player pools and higher jackpots on PokerStars.
To be clear, those indicted in the Black Friday decision above are no longer affiliated with PokerStars. United States v. Scheinberg essentially forced a restructuring. Today, PokerStars remains among the most well-known and respected online poker rooms in the world. FOX Entertainment already holds a minority stake in The Stars Group (parent company of PokerStars, now owned by Flutter), and FOX Bet continues to be the sports betting partner of the platform. The connected poker and casino apps are both PokerStars branded.
PokerStars has a few customer support options, including a contact form and a Live Chat assistant, which is available by tapping or clicking the seafoam green “Need Help?” button on the Help page. You can even tweet @StarsSupport to get help from representatives if you choose. If you’ve got a quick question, live chat or tweeting will do just fine, but more detailed concerns are best handled through the Contact form in the app.