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PokerStars is the largest poker site in the world, offering massive volume in cash games and tournaments 24 hours a day. It sets the standard in the industry for tournaments on poker sites as well with an unmatched selection and sit-and-gos at all stakes starting up virtually every second.
The software is also top-notch and offers fast play, high reliability, great multi-table options and a lots of customization - it pretty much sets the bar for the industry there as well.
If you're looking for a downside, though, it's probably the inconsistent competition. Because of the huge player base there are some very fierce opponents on the site if you wander into the wrong game.
If you like more obscure poker variations, PokerStars is for you with a wide spread of games offered - Texas Hold'em, Omaha and Seven-Card Stud in all versions, H.O.R.S.E., H.O.S.E., 2-7 Triple Draw, Five-Card Draw, Razz, 2-7 Single Draw Lowball, Badugi, 8-Game, Mixed Hold’em and Mixed Omaha Hi/Lo. By the time you read this, they've probably added more - and that now includes Short Deck (6+) Hold'em!
In addition PokerStars has several features in its software that you won't find anywhere else including private HomeGames and Time Tourneys.
PokerStars also has a solid loyalty program that leans towards recreational players and awards a lot of tournament tickets and pleasant surprises on players all the time.
Bottom line, PokerStars is one of the best poker sites in the world and, if the competition wasn't so tough at the higher stakes, it would be tough not to rank PokerStars higher.
Looking for PokerStars in the USA? Try our PokerStars New Jersey review:
Bonus Code STARS600
Bonus Code and Promotions
PokerStars offers an up to $600 first-deposit bonus at 100% match for all new players.
PokerStars Bonus Code: stars600
Be sure to use the PokerStars marketing code to receive the biggest sign-up bonus and access to tons of freeroll tournaments. Enter the marketing code when you're asked where you found out about PokerStars during the sign-up process.
Note: PokerStars now offers an exclusive up to £400 bonus for UK players that sign-up via PokerListings. Use bonus code STARS400.
Bonus Clearing: The bonus is released in $10 increments at a rate of 20 VPP per $1 of bonus (25 VPPs per €, 30 VPPs per £). Players may make up to three deposits in total to claim the full bonus but they must be made within 60 days of the first deposit. Players then have 120 days to earn the full bonus amount.
PokerStars offers loyal players a great loyalty program with two types of points earned for real-money play:
2) VIP Player Point (VPPs)
VPPs determine your VIP level and can't be exchanged for cash or prizes.
StarsCoin can be used to buy merch, electronics, etc. in the store, can be turned into cash or used to play in special points tournaments. The higher your VIP level, the faster your StarsCoin accumulation, the better perks you get, etc.
Generate enough VPPs and you will move up the new PokerStars steps program, which in turn nets you StarsCoin.
Move up the steps and you'll achieve VIP status. There are six VIP status levels on PokerStars including BronzeStar, ChromeStar, SilverStar, GoldStar, PlatinumStar and finally SuperNova.
Each status offers its own unique set of perks and benefits that get progressively better.
Tournaments and Freerolls
PokerStars is the biggest online poker site in the world and is, hands-down, the place to go for tournaments. The high traffic ensures anyone looking for a tournament will find one that suits both his wallet and his game preference.
Most events have low to medium buy-ins and run often and the smaller buy-in tournaments tend to be quite loose and juicy. For the high-stakes players there are plenty of $500 or more buy-in 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 - these can see thousands of beginners battling it out, making some of the small guaranteed events very profitable for skilled players.
For example PokerStars runs 45-player and 180-player multi-table sit-and-gos that get running whenever they have enough players - generally, they start up every few minutes, so you never have to wait long. These are some of the softest tournaments on the Web.
PokerStars Sunday Tournaments Still Best Online
PokerStars also hosts the biggest guaranteed tournaments in the world, including the renowned PokerStars Sunday Million with its $215 buy-in and life-changing winners payouts.
If $215 is too rich for your bankroll, though, there are also countless steps satellites to play your way up starting as low as 1c!
For those looking for the ultimate in online poker tournament series the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) and Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) are compelling arguments for PokerStars. Each one has offered a staggering $30+ million guarantee in the past with the main events awarding over $1 million to first place.
Aside from the guaranteed online tournaments, PokerStars is the only place to win seats into PokerStars European Poker Tour events.
PokerStars is always expanding its tournament offerings based on player feedback. Some of its latest additions are the "Time Tourneys", in which the tournament goes for a set amount of time (min: 15 minutes, max: 180 minutes) and then players are paid based on their finishing stack size. In many ways the Time Tourneys have more in common with cash games.
Zoom Poker, Spin & Gos and Early Payouts!
Besides the biggest guaranteed MTTs in the industry PokerStars players are particularly keen on the fast-play, high-reward SnGs PokerStars offers.
Chief among them are, of course, the Zoom Poker tournaments and the jackpot turbo Spin & Gos. Needless to say they offer up some of the best and most addictive play online. Read more about How to Consistently beat Spin & Gos here.
Another nice feature PokerStars has added recently? Early Payouts for most of their MTTs.
What's an early payout? Simply put, once you hit the money in a tournament all players who have made it past the bubble are immediately paid out the min-cash with the balance of your finish awarded after you eventually bust.
Why is this great? Because you can immediately take your earnings and buy in to another tournament, of course!
Software and Graphics
The PokerStars 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 to accommodate them and currently handles over 100,000 real-money players at peak hours.
PokerStars also released the long-awaited Mac-compatible version of its software, allowing Mac players to access the software directly rather than through a third-party Windows emulator.
Stats functions in the PokerStars software are top notch. The lobby shows all the selected games, and for a highlighted table it shows the names of the players seated and their stack. It also displays the names of players waiting to join the table.
Hand data is available during play and can also be requested for analysis. In the game, the software provides a quick callback of the last 200 hands, notes on other players and the usual stats on percentages of action in different hands.
The PokerStars 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.
The PokerStars graphics are some of the best in the business; clean, crisp, easy to understand and highly customizable. Because of the great customization options, the look and feel can also easily be changed and every player can find a combination that makes him/her happy.
Unmatched Software Quality & Personalization
To personalize the software, players can also upload an image to use as their avatar when playing. 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, and with some tinkering players can pretty much make it look and sound exactly how they want.
Special features are great, with new features being added constantly. Some of the latest are an auto-rebuy option for ring games, a find a player function and a range of new keyboard shortcuts. PokerStars has also added a hand replayer directly in to the software, allowing players to revisit recent hands without leaving the table.
In 2012 PokerStars added action-packed Zoom Poker, which allows players to fold and instantly get another hand at a different table. It's great for action junkies as there is rarely a lull in the game and it's safe to say it's one of the most popular poker software innovations ever.
Overall, PokerStars goes to great lengths to keep its players happy and the features are second to none. For a direct and free PokerStars download, click the download link above.
Ring games at the higher limits tend to be pretty tough at PokerStars and the viewed-flopped percentages at these limits are fairly low - meaning tighter than the industry standard for the same 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 really - there's never a problem finding suitable competition for all skill levels, though the 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.
In short, the competition is of average toughness in the ring games and softer in most of the tournaments. PokerStars does however recommend players think twice before trying to take on the highest stakes, since they are inhabited by some very talented and aggressive players.
- Unbeatable selection of tournaments and games
- Now available to players in New Jersey
- Sunday Million buy-in now $109 with same $1m GTD!
- New "Early Payouts" in MTTs with immediate credit for min-cash
- Isle of Man
- Superior selection of cash games and tournaments
- Amazing software and selection of poker variants
- Zoom Poker zips you to new hand/new table as soon as you fold!
- Numerous satellites into WSOP, EPT, APPT and LAPT
- Offers Mixed Games and Short Deck (6+) Holdem
- Only offers e-mail support
- Tough opposition in high-stakes tournaments and cash games
- Software & Graphics
- Ring Game Traffic
- Tournament Traffic
- Soft Competition
- Game Variety
- Sign-Up Bonus
- Loyalty Bonus
- Financial Security
- Deposit & Withdrawal
- 24/7 Support:
- Web site FAQ:
- Support Features:
- E-Mail Confirmation:
- Very fast
- NETeller Payout Time:
- 48 Hours
- Withdrawal Smoothness:
Overall, PokerStars has quick e-mail support bolstered by a knowledgeable and friendly staff. However, there is no live or telephone support at this time.
Deposit Options: VISA (Delta, Electron, Gift and Prepaid), MasterCard (Gift and Prepaid), Neteller, Diners Club International, ClickandBuy, Skrill (formerly Moneybookers), Solo/Maestro/Switch, cashier's check/money order/bank draft (minimum deposit of $100), local bank transfer, ukash, ELV, online bank transfer, Paysafe card, WebMoney.
Withdrawal Options: Visa, Neteller, Skrill (formerly Moneybookers), ClickandBuy, WebMoney, check, couriered check, direct bank transfer.