Our PokerStars Review
Pokerstars is the largest poker site in the world, offering a massive volume of cash games and tournaments 24/7. It sets the industry standard for how many games and varieties are available. Although other poker sites are catching up in traffic, Pokerstars enjoys higher volumes, especially for Sunday events. The flagship Stars Group brand has been around a long time with a solid rep, and operates under a Malta Gaming Authority license. Also, worth noting that player funds are separated to protect players.
- Bonuses and Promos
- Tournaments and Freerolls
- Poker Games Offered
- Home Games with Friends
- Software and mobile
- PokerStars Awards
- Play money and free chips
- Player levels and Competition
Most poker rooms will offer some Hold’em or Omaha. However, if you’re into more obscure poker variants and mixed games, PokerStars games are for you. You’ll also find 7-card Stud, Razz, H.O.R.S.E., 2-7 Triple/Single Draw, Badugi, and 8-Game and Short Deck (6+) Hold'em. There are several Hi/Lo games, and you’ll find most regular games in pot-limit, no-limit and limit options. They’ve also added an unmatched selection of Spin & Gos at multiple stakes.
The software’s smooth with multi-tabling and plenty of customization, with several features you’ll rarely find, especially on smaller poker sites. For example, private Pokerstars home games - now also available on mobile with dedicated support. Unfortunately, you can only ever get Pokerstars support via email (no live chat) - but they’re fast and friendly.
There’s also a loyalty program that often awards free tickets, cash and cool merch. The Pokerstars rake is also consistently one of the lowest compared to other major poker sites, especially at NLH tables. This obviously favors the grinders in the group. On the downside, it’s a huge player base with some fierce opponents if you walk into the wrong game. However, this is one of the biggest and best poker rooms we partner with. If the competition wasn't so tough at the higher stakes, we’d probably have ranked it even higher.
Looking for PokerStars in the USA? Try our PokerStars New Jersey review:
POKERSTARS BONUS CODE & PROMOTIONS
PokerStars deposit bonus offers tend to change, but as of late you can choose which sign up bonus you want. As with most bonuses, you may need to play Pokerstars for real money if it’s a deposit bonus - to clear the full bonus. But it can happen reasonably fast if you play regularly. Make sure you check the terms and conditions before you sign up for any bonus just in case.
- Be sure to use the relevant Pokerstars Bonus Code: STARS600 or THIRTY
- For Pokerstars UK players: Use TWENTY.
The promotions can be pretty amazing with a series of $1 million freerolls a year, for example. Plus ongoing opportunities to win amazing packages to PokerStars Live events at cheap buy-ins, including Road to PSPC and EPT.
Aside from the multiple welcome bonus offers and deposit bonus options, you can find promotions for most of their games. Including Zoom poker, S&Gs, and 6+ Hold’em. You’ll play and generate points to climb the leaderboard and win cash prizes and tickets. Don’t forget to enter any Pokerstars promo code required when registering. Here are some other promos you may find:
- The Deal - turns Stars Coins (loyalty points) into cash rewards
- High Roller Club - Daily high-stakes tournaments with millions GTD & leaderboard rewards
- Pokerstars VR - exotic locations and interactive Pokerstars play (hardware required)
- Play Money Leaderboards - Earn points from Pokerstars free play online
Stars Rewards Loyalty Program
You collect reward points by playing real money games and see your progress bar fill up. You’ll get 45 reward points for every USD $1 in scheduled tournament rake. And 100 points for every USD $1 in Zoom, cash games or other tournament fees. (Translates into 130 points for every £1, 80 points for C$1, and 110 points for €1). There are no points in $5/$10 pot-limit and no-limit games, and other $20/$40 games or higher.
Get enough and you’ll earn a Chest full of prizes, including loaded with rewards you’ll want to use. Including free play and StarsCoin - which you can exchange for cash bonuses and tourney, S&G entries and qualifiers. Otherwise, you can go shopping in the official Store and Rewards Store for physical prizes and merch.
There are six different Chest levels of increasing value: Blue, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Diamond and Black. You need to win at least one chest within a 28-day period to retain your level. Meanwhile, if you win more than 10 chests, you get upgraded to the next level.
POKERSTARS TOURNAMENTS AND FREEROLLS
The high traffic here ensures you’ll find a tournament that suits both your wallet and game preference. Most events have low-medium buy-ins and run often and the smaller buy-in tournaments tend to be quite loose and juicy.
For high-stakes players, there are plenty of $500+ tournaments, with prize pools often passing the $1 million mark. The bigger buy-in events, however, tend to have some very tough competition and are not very easy to win or cash in. Thankfully, the opposite is true for the smaller buy-in tournaments offered which see thousands of beginners battling it out. Thus, making some of the small guaranteed events very profitable for more skilled players.
Aside from the guaranteed online tournaments, this is the only place to win seats into Pokerstars European Poker Tour (EPT) and APPT events. Not to mention qualifiers for a Platinum Pass (all expenses paid package) to the massive PSPC - Poker Stars NLH Championship (currently postponed due to the pandemic).
Sunday Tournaments Still the Greatest
This poker room also hosts some of the biggest guaranteed tournaments. Including the renowned Sunday Million and Billion events with buy-ins as low as $109 - a steal for such guaranteed prize pools. However, if that’s too high a hit to your bankroll, there are countless satellites to enter, starting from 0.01c! But this isn’t the only reason Sunday is the best day to play. It’s also the day with the most player traffic (obviously) and many other major weekly tournaments including:
- Sunday Warm-up
- Sunday Kick Off
- Women Tournaments
- Sunday Storm
- Knockouts (KO)
Huge Online Poker Series Pioneers
In 2002, PokerStars ran the first-ever World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) – to recreate the World Series of Poker vibe. That online poker tournament series became a central part of online poker's playbook. Since then, they’ve been going bigger and better every year - even adding a SCOOP (Spring version) with similar prize pools.
WCOOP, SCOOP & Turbo Series (TCOOP)
Since the initial nine-event 2002 WCOOP, it has continually set the bar, awarding $30 million prize pools. The Spring Championship of Online Poker then started in 2009 following WCOOP’s success, immediately offering three buy-in levels: Low, Medium, High. Both high roller and low stakes players flock to these events every year for the lucrative prizes and glory.
The Micro Millions is one of the most popular annual online tournaments. Because it has super small buy-ins, massive fields and ridiculously big prizes. Despite the small buy-ins, millions have been paid out in the MicroMillions series. It’s one of the most egalitarian online poker tournament series ever because literally anyone can play, and anyone can win.
Greatest Game Variety Around
We can’t think of anything we’d miss here because there’s literally something for every poker player in the lobby. With 40 variants for tournaments and 30 for cash games, no other poker site can compete with game variety.
Pokerstars Poker Games:
- Omaha (+Fusion & Showtime)
- 5-Card Omaha
- 7-Card Stud
- Mixed Games
- HORSE & HOSE
- 2-7 Triple / Single Draw
All with No-Limit, Limit and Pot-Limit options, even some hi-lo games for most varieties.
Sit & Gos and New Spin & Gos
Besides the biggest guaranteed MTTs in the industry, players are particularly keen on the fast-play, high-reward SnGs offered. Needless to say they offer up some of the best and most addictive play online. Just 3 players per game with 500 chips regardless of buy-in - which can be as low as $0.25. With Spin & Gos, you spin the wheel for a randomized prize every game, then it’s hyper-turbo pace.
Zoom Poker is also a huge draw with dozens of games starting up every few minutes. Its popularity is due to the fact that when players fold, they instantly get another hand at a different table. So it's great for action junkies because there’s no waiting and you’re playing more hands per hour. Of course, this is more fast-paced so it depends if you’re up for the task or not.
This popular 'short deck' poker format plays like Texas Hold’em, but with 36 cards instead (6 and higher). This means there are a few differences in the hand rankings. For example, flush beats full-house and Ace, 6, 7, 8, 9 is classified as a straight. It’s becoming increasingly popular among pros and recreational alike so you’ll find action any time. You can learn and practice for free with play money too.
KO Tournaments and Bounties
In these tournaments, every player has a cash bounty on their head which increases (progressive bounties) with every player they eliminate. Also, if you eliminate a player, you instantly get a cash reward - their bounty. So you can walk out of these with a decent prize even if you don’t make final table. When the bounty Builder events happen, there’s over $25 million guaranteed, so it can be quite lucrative.
Cash Games and Tempest Hold’em
Tempest Poker is another version of All-in or Fold. A unique poker cash game format, played as No-Limit 6-max, with antes that increase until you get to showdown. You also have to put in an extra pre-flop blind. The catch is that players have just two options: go all-in or fold. It’s very gamley and not the way to grind long-term, but it;s great fun and good for blowing off steam after a bust-out.
Otherwise, you’ll easily find cash games for 30 poker game types, multiple buy-ins and max player amounts. Just go to the tab and filter your search. You can even observe a table to get the feel of the action, players and pace.
Pokerstars Home Games Now on Mobile
Home games have been upgraded to be playable
on both Android and iOS with mobile support.
Pokerstars home games are a big plus, especially during quarantine. Because you can set up private games and tournaments for real money for just your friends or groups. If you’re playing on Pokerstars US, these home games are also available to you, but using play money.
Players can now choose which tournaments to create, from Hyper (3-min levels) to Slow (15-min levels), with late registration included. And time banks that grow later in the tournaments. Setting up or joining a private club is free and you get game/club management tools and stats. Playing on Pokerstars for real money in home games also earns you rewards points.
Playing on Pokerstars with friends:
Get the Pokerstars download by clicking PLAY HERE on this page.
- Sign in to pokerstars
- Go to More from the main lobby
- Choose Home Games
- Join a poker club with club ID if you’ve been invited
… Or Create a Club yourself (501 players max.)
SOFTWARE AND GRAPHICS
The software is privately developed and is one of the best in the business. Aside from its great feel, stability and aesthetic, it's also fast, highly customizable, stable, and caters well to multi-tablers. With a constantly growing number of players, the software is continuously updated and improved. The aim is to accommodate over 100,000 real-money players at peak hours and offer a seamless experience.
The lobby has a Quick Seat tab where you can get to the hottest games, like Zoom, in seconds. You can even save your Favorites in the relevant tab. Otherwise, you pick a variant, then filter your game, stakes and max players, and your perfect poker game is there for you to register. The highlighted table shows the names of the players seated and their stack.
Then once you’re playing, you have your regular game info, stats and chats visible. Plus, note-taking function to type reads on your opponents for future reference. But special features are constantly added to keep up with the competitive poker world. Here are some of our favorites:
- Emotes to throw at other players - including tissues and balls, to blow off steam/ tilt
- Side-bets within a poker game
- Hand history - which you can choose to visualize
- Time banks - how many you have left and which ran out
- Your Chip Graph - how your chip stack has progressed throughout
- Early payouts (min cash) for most MTTs
- Pokerstars VR - exotic locations and interactive Pokerstars play (hardware required)
Customization and personalization
To personalize the software, players can also upload an image to use as their avatar. Thankfully, there's also the option to block player images and rid your poker table of cats, dogs and the occasional Playboy bunny. The software has several backgrounds and table layouts. With some tinkering, you can make the poker environment look and sound exactly how you want it to.
- Table theme and felt
- Four-colored decks
- Stack size in big blinds
- Show/hide hole cards
- Dealing animations
- Seat preference
- Bet slider / mouse wheel
The software supports advanced multi-tabling with resizable tables and up to 24 cash games possible at a time. An unlimited amount of tournaments and sit-and-gos is also possible, basically letting the user decide how many tables he can play before he reaches his limit. Players can automatically tile or cascade all open tables and custom game profiles can be edited and saved, letting the player customize his entire playing experience.
List of Pokerstars HUDs and Tools accepted
- CardRunners EV
- Flopzilla (1.8.6+)
- Gam Poker Analyzer
- Hand2Note (22.214.171.124+)
- Holdem Indicator
- Hold'em Manager 2 & 3
- HoldEq (1.1.8+)
- Omaha Indicator
- Oranges 6Plus Calculator & Oranges Calculator
- PLO Ranger
- Poker Analytics
- Poker Copilot
- Poker Indicator
- PokerProLabs Profiler, Calculators, Smart Buddy, Super HUD, Top Shark, Tournament Shark
- Poker Range Editor
- PokerStrategy SideKick
- PokerTracker 4
- SharkScope HUD
- SharkyScanner & SharkyStrator
- SitnGo Wizard
- StarsCaption & StarsHelper
- Stud Indicator
- Table Ninja II
- Table Optimizer (1.8+)
- Table Tamer
POKERSTARS MOBILE APP
The killer Pokerstars mobile app features the popular, turbo-paced Zoom Poker, which translates very well to mobile. Just one table of Zoom Poker is enough to keep most casual poker players entertained but you can actually fire up two tables if you’re into even faster action. Multi-tabling is also an option, but limited to four tables on iPad and mobile - perhaps better for your focus too.
In June 2020, home games were also added to the
Pokerstars mobile app by popular demand.
Though the product is extremely polished and smooth, we found everything to be just a tad too small. It would be nice if there were a way to enlarge the size to avoid potential misclicks. But all in all we were impressed by how they managed to stuff so many offerings into a mobile app.
A long-awaited Mac version of the software is now available.
So Pokerstars Mac players can download the software directly.
PokerStars Awards from PokerListings
We awarded PokerStars this award, purely for outstanding software that they have maintained from the start. With the leanest interface, finest features and graphics, it's much more advanced than the competition. And Stars are basically the innovators of most modern internet poker features, like ever online home games. Another is their multi-tabling experience, which is second to none.
PokerStars won this award for hosting the best tournament series event this year - WCOOP. Yes, we've had lots more online series events than usual this year, for obvious reasons - with some giant guarantees. Yet this series still stood out for its overall organization, structure, branding, prize pools and number of entries recorded. Not to mention the 10M main event pool loaded with added value.
POKERSTARS PLAY MONEY VS REAL MONEY
You can toggle between Pokerstars play money and real money games from the client with a similar cash game and tourney schedule. And all the same great games too, which is incredible and something you won’t find everywhere. Some poker rooms will offer very basic play money options for practice. You get a 50,000 free chips bankroll to start with, which you can reload every 4 hours, even if you bust out of everything you play. Alternatively, you can purchase play money chips - 500,000 would cost you less than $3.
TOUGHER COMPETITION AT TIMES
Ring games at the higher limits tend to be pretty tough at Pokerstars. The viewed-flopped percentages at these limits are fairly low - meaning tighter than industry standard for similar limits. On the positive side, there are many games to choose from and plenty of good players know how to exploit the tighter games.
With a steady influx of new players - thousands daily - there's never a problem finding suitable competition for all skill levels. Although tournament player quality varies more than the ring games and tends to be much softer. Of course, there are mostly strong players in high-stakes sit-and-gos and the main fixed schedule events.
You’ll find bad players in the microstakes. However, as soon as you start climbing your way up the ladder you’ll run into seasoned online grinders waiting for prey. That’s not to say the games are unbeatable but there are definitely some easier sites. There’s a Pokerstars school of you need to brush up, but we recommend our extensive guides for beginners and more advanced grinders:
For a direct and free Pokerstars download, click the PLAY HERE link on this page or below.
Is Pokerstars legit?PokerStars, part of The Stars Group, is part of Rational Intellectual Holdings limited and operated by TSG Interactive. This is a legitimate poker site licensed and regulated by the Malta Gaming Authority. Operations are legal and there are strict measures in place to protect player data under GDPR and EU laws.
Can you play Pokerstars in the US?
Can you play Pokerstars in the UK?Yes, players in the UK can register a PokerStars account, and even deposit and play using GBP. As long as you first verify your account according to KYC policy.
Can you play Pokerstars in Canada?Yes, players in Canada can sign up, deposit and play on PokerStars, even using CAD. Canadian players are also eligible for PokerStars promos and bonuses.
What bonuses are available at Pokerstars?If you register via Pokerlistings, you’ll get a bigger bonus for your first deposit. Pokerstars also host major tournaments and series with massive guaranteed prize pools - like Road to PSPC live and EPT. You can also access promos with cash prizes and free tickets, like Spin & Go leaderboards and daily challenges. By playing for real money, you earn reward points and StarCoins to exchange for tickets, big qualifiers, cash and physical prizes in the Stars Rewards loyalty program.
What forms of payment do Pokerstars accept?Players can deposit a minimum of $10 (or the equivalent) faster using Skrill, Neteller, Visa and Mastercard. There are also multiple credit cards, e-wallets and transfer methods to deposit/withdraw, depending on the country you’re playing from. You’ll need to check the table on the Pokerstars website for your available options by selecting your country.
How can I get free chips on Pokerstars?There are big free chip rewards for completing at least one challenge every day of the week. But you also get a certain amount of free chips to play with every 4 hours in play money mode. If you have insufficient balance to enter a play money game, just click Add Chips to get a top up and your 4 hour countdown timer will start.
Is it true that Pokerstars is rigged?It’s easy for losing players to blame the poker room at times, but Pokerstars is heavily licensed. And uses random number generators which are verified by third parties. Player funds are also segregated. So it would be hard for them to cheat players this way.
Pokerstars or partypoker?We recommend both poker rooms as industry leaders, and both have their strengths and weaknesses. If you’re looking for a great rakeback program, that's partypoker, but if you’re looking for a bigger game variety, then Pokerstars is for you.