At a Glance
: 100% Initial Deposit up to $600 - Bonus Code: STARS600
Minimum Deposit Amount
Minimum Deposit Options
: Bank Transfer: $10, ClickandBuy: $10, Diners Club: $10, Maestro: $10, MasterCard: $10, NETELLER: $10, paysafecard: $10, Solo: $10, Visa: $10, WebMoney: $10, Ukash: $10, Cashier's Check: $100, entropay: $10
Minimum Withdrawal Options
: Bank Transfer: $10, ClickandBuy: $10, Maestro: $10, NETELLER: $10, Solo: $10, Visa: $10, WebMoney: $10, Check: $50
NL Ring Stakes
: $0.01 - $0.02 up to $200 - $400
Limit Ring Stakes
: $0.02 - $0.04 up to $1000 - $2000
: $0.25 + $0 up to $5000 + $100
is, without question, the largest and most powerful online poker operator in the known universe. Hundreds of thousands of players pass through their virtual doors every day to enjoy top quality poker entertainment. They have been active since 2001, in the early days of online poker. For many years they trailed behind market leaders PartyPoker, but catapulted to the top of the rankings when they refused to leave the U.S. after the introduction of the UIGEA. They are now the most popular site for American players and many other nations.
The site is fronted by a set of high-profile sponsored pros, including many former World Champions. 2010 WSOP Main Event winner Joe Cada makes his home on PokerStars, as does poker-boom catalyst Chris Moneymaker. Their most recognizable ambassador is genial Canadian expert Daniel Negreanu. The PokerStars headquarters is located on the Isle of Man and their operations are regulated by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. PokerStars random number generators and security protocols are some of the best in the game, and are regularly checked and certified by third-party auditors.
Just like any online poker site, Texas Hold'em dominates at PokerStars. There are thousands of tables running at any one time. Even off-peak, there are tables running up to $25-$50. Anyone starting at the bottom can get in at the smallest possible limits, with $0.01 - $0.02 tables running constantly. Despite the prevalence of NLHE, all the popular poker variations are catered for. Omaha, and 7 Card Stud all appear in various forms, along with Razz, 5 Card Draw, and 2-7 Draw. PokerStars also have an unbeatable range of Mixed Games, with HOSE, HORSE, and the pros favorite 8-Game Mix. You can even stack off some cash playing Badugi, a game that's almost impossible to find anywhere else.
Sit and Go's also get their fair share of attention. It's typically harder to find non-Hold'em S&Gs on most sites and, although that remains true here, there's always a solid number of other games running in this section. You can jump into a tournament for as little as $1 + $0.20 or play as high as $5000 + $100, if you've got cash to burn. There's a choice to be made between different S&G formats, as PokerStars provide their users with everything from Super Turbos to Heads-up tournaments.
If there's one thing PokerStars do well it's Multi-Table Tournaments. Even before their meteoric rise to prominence, they were renowned for the quality of their scheduled events. There are hundreds of them running every day, with buy-ins to suit every bankroll and thousands of players to pad the prize pools. The jewel in the crown of the PokerStars tournament calendar is the weekly Sunday Million. Any online grinder worth his salt will be logged onto PokerStars at the end of every week to compete for $1 million guaranteed in the $215 buy-in tournament. Its huge success has spawned a series of smaller guarantees that flank it every week. The Sunday Warmup lets you compete for $400,000 guaranteed, while the Sunday Second Chance gives you another shot at a $200,000 guarantee. PokerStars also host the most prestigious yearly online tournament series: the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP). Since its meager beginnings in 2002, the WCOOP has grown to a huge festival of online poker, with 45+ events and over $40 million in combined guaranteed prize pools. Every year, the coveted WCOOP Main Event is hotly contested, not least because of its $10 million guaranteed prize pool.
The online poker client provided by PokerStars
is top of the range. Only Full Tilt can provide software that is comparable in terms of features and the regularity of updates. The team at PokerStars are constantly working to refine and innovate their client, providing incremental updates and rolling out new features. You'll spend a lot of your time in the lobby, so it's a great relief to find a clean and simple area in which to access poker tables, your profile, and the cashier. The table list is sorted by the use of big buttons at the top of the screen, which are intuitive and simple to use. If you have more specific requirements, there's a powerful filter for your to make use of, which can help you find tables that match your exact specifications. There are buttons to quickly jump to the cashier and to check on your profile, along with a small bar that displays your current VIP status. There are plenty of options to be configured and tweaked, with sounds, 4 color decks and standard bet amounts all available.
The tables are laid out in a clear and easy fasion. Unlike most other online poker software, PokerStars provide the ability for you to create, download, and apply custom themes and layouts. So if you don't like the way something looks in any of the default options, you have the ability to alter it to your own taste. All of the tables are resizable and there are plenty of multi-tabling settings that can be activated to make things easier for serious players. You can also select a preferred seating area, so that you are positioned in the same place at every table.
PokerStars has been the largest online poker site in the world for the last few years, propelled along by a huge player base. If you trawl the tables for long enough, you'll be able to find almost any kind of player, however, it is generally considered that PokerStars players are a little better on average than those found on other sites. They are also one of the few major online poker sites to still accept U.S. players, leading to a slightly different complexion, compared to the European-facing sites. The big name sponsored pros and WSOP champions also draw in a healthy number of interested novices who provide easy pickings for the well trained user.
Those pros are often found holed up in the 8-Game Mixed area or at the high-stakes Hold'em tables, but they will often drop into the smaller games to give the regular players a chance to compete with high-profile stars. The very highest stakes aren't anywhere near the nosebleed games found on Full Tilt, but for the average player this makes next to no difference. There's also an excellent spread between the various different poker games on PokerStars. On many online sites, it's difficult to find a table that isn't Hold'em or Omaha, but at PokerStars you can slip into a game of 2-7 Lowball Single Draw without too much trouble.
You would expect the leading online poker site in the world to have a bonus to match their reputation and free money fans will not be disappointed. PokerStars offer all their new customers a 100% up to $600 first deposit deal. Anyone making their first deposit should enter the code STARS600 when moving their money to have this great deal automatically activated. Coming up with $600 in ready cash might be a difficult proposition for many first time depositors. Thankfully, PokerStars graciously allow the first three deposits you make over a 90-day period to count towards the bonus. This means that most players should have a chance at clearing the maximum $600.
In order to unlock the 100% up to $600 bonus money, you need to start earning VPPs. These are collected by playing in cash games or buying into tournaments, and you need 17 of them for every $1 in bonus. The number of VPPs you receive per hand depends on the number of players at your table. In a cash game with 8 or more participants, 6 VPPs are awarded per $1 in rake. This amount is then divided up equally between everyone who have been dealt cards. It's the same process for cash games with 7 or fewer players, but instead it's only 5.5 VPPs per $1. The points are awarded in tiny increments, so you'll still be earning them even if the rake doesn't reach a dollar. You also pick up 5.5 VPPs per $1 paid in tournament fees. It can take some time to work through the bonus, especially if you're aiming for the full $600. However, you have 6 months in which to accumulate all the points you need and every time you amass enough points for $10, that amount is transfered to your account.
There's also an excellent VIP system in place at PokerStars. You are awarded a level based on how many points you have earned in the previous month, moving from BronzeStar up to Supernova Elite. The higher you climb the fast you'll earn FPPs, which are used to purchase merchandise or buy into special tournaments. They can even be converted into a cash, at a rate dependent on your VIP status. At the highest level you'll be picking up FPPs 5 times faster than the standard rate. There are plenty of other advantages to progressing through the ranks, including weekly $50,000 freerolls and $100,000 monthly events. If you're dedicated enough to reach Supernova status you can expect to be awarded free seats into major PokerStars tournaments like the Caribbean Adventure.
By all accounts, PokerStars
has an excellent support desk, able to deal quickly and effectively with any issue. Numerous player reports from around the world attest to the speed of their replies and the ease with which they cope with user concerns. There are also support representatives available in the in-client chat at any point. They are often the first point of call for troubled players and are also on hand to moderate any final table deals made in big MTT tournaments.