Despite being a global brand and one of the biggest poker sites in the world, PokerStars has been on a rocky road to find its place in the American gaming scene. The online poker room hit a major road bump in 2011, when the U.S. Department of Justice seized its domain name and assets, along with rival Full Tilt Poker.
Five years later, PokerStars relaunched. Not only did it acquire Full Tilt and migrate all its players to a new PokerStars platform, it because licensed and legal in its first state, New Jersey. Players can now enjoy the client software just the same as poker players around the world.
|platform with full customization or bare bones version||smaller number of games than other poker sites|
|dedicated mobile apps for both Android and iOS devices||no live chat option|
|top online poker tournament host|
PokerStars is still trying to persuade players to come try it out. This is great news for bonuses, with $30 in free play on your first deposit of at least $20. Even the most stalwart poker face is going to raise an eyebrow at this.
For players that have already joined, PokerStars also has a range of themed monthly events with cash prizes and reload bonuses up for grabs. Larger events may offer bigger prizes, such as luxury holidays.
The US version of PokerStars offers the same premium VIP Star Club as the global poker platform. Players earn points the more hands they play and these points help them progress up the VIP scale. New members will start at Bronze, working up through Chrome, Silver and Gold to reach the Platinum level, which comes with access to special satellite tournaments.
Players can download the PokerStars 7 client on Windows and Mac, or on dedicated apps for iOS and Android devices. Once the software has loaded, new players simply need to sign up for a new account validate their email and payment details and start playing. Even better, players who used PokerStars prior to 2011 will find their old account details still work.
PokerStars has created a dedicated app for both iOS and Android smart phones and tablets, so that poker players can log in and play some hands wherever there’s Wi-Fi or cell reception. PokerStars regularly updates the app and details about any new versions are listed on the website.
There’s a reason that PokerStars’ software is highly regarded by poker players at all skill levels. The first thing you’ll will notice is just how fast the platform performs, both in loading the lobbies and rooms, as well as during the card games themselves. Even with the large volume of players that visit PokerStars on a daily basis, the software rarely suffers any performance issues.
Another reason why it’s the go-to client for many poker pros is the high level of customization it offers, from the type of table to the deck of cards being used. It also offers support for players who prefer running multiple games at once. For those who want to keep things nice and simple, PokerStars also offers a streamlined version of its software, which strips out many of the modification options and focuses entirely on playing poker.
The major difference between PokerStars and the software offered in other countries is the number of games available to play. The US version doesn’t carry as many games as the global brand, but there’s more than enough to satisfy amateurs and pros alike. Texas Hold’ em remains the staple poker game, with different tables offering limit, pot limit and no limit play.
There are also five card Omaha games to try, or draw games like five card draw, triple draw and limit badugi. Seven card stud and Razz Stud are also there to have a shot at, along with mixed games including Horse and 8 Game. All of the games at PokerStars have a wide range of stakes to cater for all budgets and skill levels.
The site also hosts a huge number of tournaments that have broken many records, with PokerStars holding the world record for largest online poker tournament with over 225,000 players. It also broke the record (and the bank) with its tournament pool prize in 2010, amassing an enormous $12.2 million cash pot, which is the kind of money you only find at live events. While not able to capitalize on as big of a pool in America just yet, PokerStars did reach over $200,000 for its US tournament pool in its first year back in 2016.
The quickest method to fund your PokerStars account is using the ACH direct bank transfer. MasterCard and VISA credit cards are also accepted, but PokerStars offers its own Play+ Card for quicker and easier deposits. PokerStars also supports eWallet services such as Neteller and Skrill, as well as accepts instant eChecks. Players can also deposit funds in person via 7-Eleven’s PayNearMe service, or with cash at a participating casino cage.
PokerStars has quite a comprehensive FAQ section, but for complex issues that require someone to advise or investigate, there’s a dedicated support team on hand 24/7. They can be contacted directly through the online contact form, or via email.
Although there are some minor issues with the US version of PokerStars that are not seen in the global version, the platforms are practically identical. PokerStars is able to offer a higher rate than many of its US poker rivals, coupled with a rewarding VIP and bonus scheme. Players looking for diversity in the range of stakes offered and regular online tournaments should download PokerStars now!
"I combine my sports and gambling interests to put new US sports betting and casino websites through the paces to give consumers an unbiased assessment of every site's strengths and weaknesses."
Game Variety - 5/5
Game Quality - 5/5
User Experience - 5/5
Bonuses - 5/5
Tournaments - 5/5
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