PokerStars Review

Rating: 4.82/5

Ratings are determined by the CardsChat editorial team. This team carries out a strict auditing process when reviewing sites, assessing payout speed, game variety, software quality, level of security, mobile compatibility, and customer service.

Find out more about how we rate

Known for being the world鈥檚 largest online poker room and holding the biggest online tournaments, PokerStars doesn鈥檛 need much of an introduction! With a huge variety of games, fast and secure deposits and a poker school, it鈥檚 easy to see why PokerStars is such a popular choice amongst beginners and pros.


Hits & Misses

Hits

  • #1 poker site in the world operating online since 2001
  • Tremendous variety of games at a wide range of stakes
  • Very high traffic in both ring games and tournaments 24/7
  • Many advanced features like multi-tabling, reviewing hand histories, and searching for, tracking, and chatting with other players

Misses

  • Lots of players mean tournaments fill up quickly
  • No instant play version
Payout Speed

1-2 days

Licensed by
  • Malta Gaming Authority (MGA)
Support
Secure, Fast Deposit Methods
Certified Legal and Regulated
  • PokerStars is the largest real-money poker site in the world! They are fully licensed and regulated.
Payments & Withdrawals
  • PokerStars has a reputation for fast withdrawal processing, often within 24 hours
  • The site offers multiple banking methods for easy deposits

The Most Popular Choice For CardsChat Members

More of our forum members choose to play at PokerStars than any other online poker room.


PokerStars Review

When it comes to raw appeal, nothing in the gambling domain can match up to poker. It is not just the prospect of winning huge sums of money that draws people in, but the fact that a player can use his or her own skill to outwit other players. At PokerStars, playing poker can be generously rewarding, because it places skill front and center.

Our comprehensive PokerStars review will show you that this is a site you can trust, with it rightfully ranking as one of the top online poker platforms in the world.

We recommend PokerStars not only because it has longevity on its side, but also for the enthusiastic endorsement it gets from respected, internationally famous poker pros. These experts, who certainly ought to know what makes for a top-level poker brand, rate this site second to none with regard to quality of the software and range of games available. Numbers also speak volumes, with millions of registered players PokerStars is close to the top of the pile in player traffic. While many of these players are pros and aspiring pros, the site also attracts large numbers of recreational players who enjoy the game and are hoping to improve their skills.

Not that you need any more incentive to play at this online poker powerhouse, but you get it in the form of a PokerStars welcome bonus, which is thrown your way as soon as you sign up. A strong loyalty rewards program and promotions galore keep the playing incentives high, while around the clock ring games and tournaments will keep the competition in full flow. Putting it simply, playing at PokerStars allows anyone to master the power of the cards!

The main PokerStars lobby, opened on the cash games tab
The PokerStars lobby is well organized with a clear tabbed system showing various gameplay options.

Security & Fair Play

PokerStars is licensed in the Isle of Man, a jurisdiction known for its strict standards. In addition, the site continues to be reviewed by independent auditors on a regular basis with regard to its overall security, general fairness, and randomness of the games.

All PokerStars real money players, including high stakes players, can fund and withdraw from their account with no worries. All players’ deposited funds are kept in a separate account, kept apart from those used for the site’s operating expenses. In addition, the use of advanced encryption methods – for both online and for mobile play – ensures the complete protection and privacy of every account. On the other hand, if you are new to the game or haven’t played in a while, you are welcome to play for free until such time as you are comfortable playing for real money.

Last but certainly not least, the endorsement by internationally known poker luminaries provides further assurance of the site’s credibility.


Mobile Play

PokerStars’ mobile apps have been optimized specifically for Apple iOS and Android devices. The PokerStars apps are much more advanced than those offered by many other leading sites, as they’ve really been able to steal a march on the competition in this department.

In order to be able to use your mobile phone or tablet to play at PokerStars, you will need to register and set up an account. You can do so either on your computer or through the web cashier on the downloaded mobile app itself. In fact, all of your deposits and withdrawals, including any poker jackpots, can be made with your mobile device if you so desire.

Depending on what type of device you own, you will need to choose the appropriate app to download. Once again, the PokerStars app is available for use on:

  • Apple devices running iOS 12 or above
  • Android devices running Android 5 or above

Owners of Apple iOS devices can download the iOS App from the App Store. Android device owners can download the app for Android directly from the PokerStars website. Downloading and using the PokerStars mobile apps is free, but they do (obviously) require you to have an active Internet connection.

If you are new to mobile poker play, we recommend you look at the onsite tutorials specifically designed for handset and tablet users. As mentioned, you will be pleasantly surprised by all of the options open to you as a mobile player. In addition to using your mobile device to do all of your banking, you can access all of the same bonuses and promotions as computer players, play in the same games and tournaments, track and chat with other players, review your hand history and withdraw your poker jackpot.


Software

Many online poker rooms and casinos turn to outside providers – and sometimes a combination of providers – for their software needs. However, PokerStars uses state-of-the-art software developed in-house by its own experts. PokerStars software is continually being updated and improved upon, taking advantage of the latest innovations in online and mobile gaming technology to bring you new games and advanced features that keep this site ahead of the competition.

PokerStars gives you a choice of two convenient ways of accessing its games: downloading the software onto your computer or using your iOS or Android mobile device. Ordinarily, the trade-off for the convenience of being able to use your mobile device to play anytime, anywhere, is a very limited selection of games. That isn’t the situation at PokerStars, as you don’t have that problem. Virtually all of the games and advanced features that make playing on the computer a fun and exciting experience are also available on your smartphone or tablet.

Whether you choose to download the PokerStars software onto your computer, or download the appropriate app for your iOS or Android device, it won’t matter at all in terms of your playing options. Either way, downloading is quick and easy and the instructions are clear enough that you should be able to follow them without a problem, even if you are new to this type of play. You can also switch back and forth between playing on computer and using your mobile device. Even if you are on your computer in the middle of a tournament and have to step away, you can pick up practically where you left off on your smartphone or tablet.


Lots of Advanced Customizable Options

Offsetting the above-mentioned area, where PokerStars does fall short, this site is not only buzzing with activity 24/7, but packed with advanced features that can make a big difference to anyone who plays poker often. What makes these additional options even better is that they are available to online and mobile players alike. The following are some of them.

  • Quick seating
  • Personal avatars and customizable table design
  • Play for free option
  • Big poker jackpot up for grabs
  • Multi-tabling
  • Replay last hand and review hand histories
  • Player searching and tracking capability
  • Opportunity to chat with other players
  • Poker School Online to help improve your game
The PokerStars settings menu shows various options for gameplay, appearance, language and more
The PokerStars settings menu has plenty of options for everything from gameplay to table appearance.

Game Selection

Poker is anything but a one-dimensional game, something that PokerStars certainly understands. Choice is often the call of the day when you choose to play the cards, with PokerStars spreading the action across cash games, tournament play, and more.

Cash Games

If limit or no limit hold ’em is the only game that interests you, simply choose your stakes from micro-stakes to high limit, and at any hour of the day or night, you will be seated immediately. But, if you would rather play something else that’s no problem either. PokerStars, probably more than any other poker room on the Internet, gives you a tremendous selection of poker games from which to choose.

First, you need to decide whether you want to play for virtual money or real money. Then you will be asked to define your search further. For example, if you wish to play in a real money cash game, you need to specify the type of game, fixed limit or no limit if applicable, and the stakes you want to play for (Micro, Low, Medium, or High). You can also click on the Quick Seat button and be seated right away at the game of your choice.

Zoom Poker

Besides all of the obvious games, as you may be aware, another variation of poker that seems to be all the rage lately is fast-fold poker. At PokerStars, their fast-fold game is called Zoom Poker, but the premise is the same. You don’t have to wait for your turn to fold your hand; you can do so beforehand, and soon as you do, you are immediately moved to a new table with a completely new set of players. Zoom Poker can be played in tournaments as well as in cash games and even heads-up.

Tournaments

Any player who loves the excitement of tournament play will love the seemingly endless list of options that PokerStars has to offer. You will find that not only are there tournaments taking place at all hours of the day and night, but at a very wide range of buy-ins, from micro-stakes up to hundreds of dollars. Or, if you prefer, you can play risk-free in a freeroll or with virtual money.

First-time players might find the incredible number of tournaments overwhelming, but the variety is so extensive that whatever your skill level, format preference, and bankroll, you should have no trouble finding a tournament that is tailor-made for you. And then it鈥檚 just a case of winning that big poker jackpot!

If you want to know what tournaments are taking place at any given time, simply click on the Tourney tab in the lobby to see the complete list. As you might expect, No Limit Hold ‘Em is the primary format, but if you would like to try something different like Omaha or Stud, there are tournaments offered in those games as well. Also, you don’t necessarily have to be a high roller to play in a higher priced tournament; most of the expensive tournaments give you the option to try to win your way in via a freeroll or low-cost satellite. Look out for some massive poker jackpots in these tournaments.

Spin & Go

There is a specific tournament variant at PokerStars that is likely to catch your eye. One of the most popular tournament formats on offer is the Spin & Go variant. Spin & Go is a Hyper-Turbo Sit & Go tournament limited to 3 players only. Buy-ins range from $0.25 to $100, while the prize pool also varies, but can be as much as 10,000x the buy-in. Payouts are randomly determined by a spinner in the center of the table.

See the website for more information about special events open to PokerStars players, and check out our Spin & Go strategy article for more details.


History and Background

PokerStars has a long and colorful history. When the site was launched back in 2001, poker was nowhere near as popular as it is today. Yet two years later, when amateur poker player Chris Moneymaker astounded the poker world by winning the WSOP Main Event, the game began to attract interest like never before. All of a sudden, everyone from professional poker players to business executives, blue-collar workers, and housewives who had never played the game before fantasized about becoming the next poker multimillionaire.

Seemingly overnight, PokerStars became the biggest poker site in the world, and many of its players were from the U.S. However, on April 15, 2011, the day that will be forever known in the poker world as “Black Friday”, the ability of Americans to play on the site came to a crashing halt. On that infamous day, the U.S. Government shut down PokerStars to all American players. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice and PokerStars settled their differences, but the site still remained off limits to Americans. PokerStars, through its then parent company, The Rational Group, received permission to purchase the assets of another similarly affected site, Full Tilt, and issue refunds owed to American customers of both sites. Full Tilt was later migrated to the PokerStars platform and, while no regulated online poker operator is available across the entire USA, PokerStars has successfully launched operations in several regulated states. Players in these states are not able to play with the global player pool, however.

Interestingly, the continued absence of American players has not kept PokerStars from maintaining its position as one of the leading poker sites in the world. The integrity of the site was clearly exemplified by returning money to the people who could no longer play there. The state-of-the-art PokerStars software and the tremendous variety of games and tournaments are other features that have continually attracted players to the site. Yet another big draw has been the PokerStars mobile platform. During January 2012, PokerStars.com introduced its first downloadable mobile app for Apple iOS devices, and followed that up in February 2012 with a second app for Android devices. Since then, there have been significant improvements in both apps, making it possible for mobile players to take advantage of many advanced customizable features and the same wide range of games and tournaments as desktop players. PokerStars’ mobile platform is now considered one of the finest in the industry.

Additionally, PokerStars has continued to expand their brand, opening the PokerStars Casino, as well as launching a sports betting platform.


Deposits and Withdrawals

Just as you would expect, based on the fact that PokerStars is one of the largest online poker rooms in the world, you have plenty of choices in ways to fund your account. The basic methods, which should be available in most countries, are listed below, but depending on where you live, other options might be open to you as well.

You can check the information on the website regarding precisely which methods are accepted for players in your country, as accepted methods are subject to change and can vary from region to region. Except where indicated otherwise, the same method can be used for both deposit and withdrawal. Keep in mind that for your added convenience, you can also make your deposits and withdrawals using the built-in web cashier on your mobile device, so you could be spending your poker jackpot before you know it!

  • MasterCard* and Visa credit and debit cards
  • Skrill
  • NETELLER
  • EntroPay
  • Paysafecard*
  • Bank Transfer*

*Cannot be used for withdrawal

Accepted currencies include USD, EUR, GBP, and CAD. Deposit limits vary depending on deposit method and level of play. However, if you wish, you have the option to set your own limits. Withdrawal processing time also varies depending on the method, but is usually 72 hours or less, while the time for the money to actually reach your account generally ranges from 3 to 10 business days. While withdrawals could be faster, you do have the assurance, regardless of which banking method you choose, that your funds are fully protected. PokerStars uses the most advanced encryption technology available to ensure the complete security and privacy of every player’s personal information and financial transactions.

Banking is one area of service where if you have any questions or problems, live chat rather than just email is available to help you. If for any reason your deposit is not accepted, the Deposit Assistance Department (DAD) can offer assistance via live chat in multiple languages. Whether or not DAD will assist you with other banking related issues is not clear.

A selection of deposit options accepted at PokerStars, including Skrill and PayPal
PokerStars offers a wide range of deposit options, such as these (for the UK).

Customer Support

Other than the limited live chat support offered if you require deposit assistance, Customer Support at PokerStars is confined to email and FAQ. As already mentioned elsewhere in this PokerStars poker room review, we find the lack of 24-hour phone and live chat support to address any legitimate player question or concern most disappointing and in need of correction as soon as possible. Although in fairness, the level of support provided by email is excellent and PokerStars’ support representatives are known for being thorough, interesting and even funny and personable. So, just to clarify, should you run into trouble at PokerStars, you can contact the customer support team through the following methods:

  • Live chat
  • Customer support form
  • Email

Loyalty Rewards and Promotions

Welcome Bonus

All new PokerStars real money players, including mobile players, receive a generous Welcome Bonus. The exact form of this can vary, taking the form of a matched deposit bonus, tournament tickets or even a combination of both. Check our detailed breakdown above for the latest Welcome Bonus from PokerStars.

As with many other online poker rooms, where bonus cash forms part of the Welcome Bonus you will generally be required to ‘clear’ the funds through play, with your bonus often released in installments as you do so. Always check the details of any online poker bonus to ensure you understand any playthrough requirements that may be attached.

Loyalty Program

All players at PokerStars are automatically enrolled in the Stars Rewards loyalty program, which awards personalized bonuses based on the games you play and activities you enjoy.

Greater rewards are available the higher your Stars Rewards tier – it’s possible to rise to higher levels through regular play – but even casual players will receive regular rewards.

Special Promotions

In addition to the above-mentioned loyalty rewards, PokerStars shows their appreciation for all of their players with lots of special promotions open to everybody. Some of these are short-term promotions, so be sure to check the website often, as cash prizes, freerolls, and satellites for seats to major events are the kinds of opportunities being offered that you won’t want to miss.


Rating Breakdown

Safety & Security 4.0/5
Customer Support 3.5/5
Gameplay Rating 3.3/5
Product Variety 2.1/5
Software Rating 3.0/5
Bonuses & Promotions 3.8/5
Cashier Rating 4.0/5
Design & Usability 3.5/5
Device Compatibility 3.5/5
Regional Availability 2.8/5

Conclusion

PokerStars is considered to be one of the best poker sites in the world, with it not just living up to critical expectation – it actually surpasses it. The sheer number of games and bonuses give this brand the edge over the competition, and that’s without mentioning the stellar mobile play options also provided. Anyone that has a passion for poker 鈥 or is simply after a casual game 鈥 needs to look no further than PokerStars, as this online poker site is undeniably an excellent choice!

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