How many superlatives are there left to describe PokerStars? The “world´s largest poker site” was founded in 2001 and has developed into an online poker goliath – responsible for hosting the world´s most valuable Internet poker tournament and holding the world record for the online poker tournament with the highest number of players.
Licensed in the Isle of Man and Malta, and in each of the countries where Internet poker communities have been ring-fenced (France, Spain, Italy etc), PokerStars does not currently accept players from the USA despite reaching terms with the US Department of Justice over allegations of money laundering. When PokerStars does return to the US, one can only speculate just how large it will grow!
PokerStars´ Choice of Games
The variety of poker games provided by PokerStars is substantial if you play outside of a “ring-fenced” country. Although players resident in France, Spain, Italy etc, still enjoy a comprehensive range of Hold´em, Omaha and Stud poker games, players from the UK, Russia, Canada etc, also enjoy cash games such as Badugi, 5 Card Omaha and Courchevel.
The value and variety of PokerStars´ tournaments is massive even when the site is not breaking records. The Sunday Million is the headline tournament among the “Sunday Majors” which guarantee a minimum of $3 million in prize money between them every week. PokerStars also qualifies more players into live poker events through their satellite program than any other poker web site and, in 2013, sent more players to events at the World Series of Poker than all the other online poker sites combined!
The Level of Traffic on PokerStars
The level of traffic on PokerStars is staggering. The site never sees fewer than 10,000 players (more than double what other sites register as a peak) and during the Sunday Majors can exceed 100,000. Even during off-peak times, you will find a heady level of competition in all formats of Texas Hold´em, Omaha and Stud poker, with thousands of players multitabling PokerStars´ speed poker offering – “Zoom Poker”.
With such a high level of traffic, you are never seconds away from the next Sit n Go or multitable poker tournament; however, it is rare that poker players will ever find any under-subscribed tournaments in which to extract a little value from PokerStars guaranteed events and, because of the number of players competing in each, there is no such thing as a quick multitable poker tournament on PokerStars!
The Standard of Play on PokerStars
The standard of play on PokerStars is a bit of a mixed bag. People with all levels of bankroll register an account with the site, and you could find yourself on a table with established “Stars”, complete newcomers to the game and long time “grinders”. Even in tournaments with a high buy-in, the skills of the players you may be seated with can vary widely due to PokerStars´ extensive satellite program.
One problem that we have identified playing on PokerStars is that you are often playing against different opponents, and this can make it difficult to get a handle on their betting tendencies. Whereas on smaller poker sites, you may be able to establish over a period of time how you should react to a player´s betting actions (because you play against them more frequently), on PokerStars the likelihood is that you can might never see a specific opponent from one month to the next – by which time they have read PokerRealMoney.com and changed their game completely!
The PokerStars Bonus
The PokerStars bonus varies depending on the currency you use to fund your PokerStars account. Funds can be transferred into a PokerStars account in US or Canadian dollars (100% match bonus up to $600.00 on the first three deposits within 90 days of registering an account), €uros (bonus €500.00*) or Sterling (bonus £400.00*). * The PokerStars bonuses in €uros and Sterling are subject to fluctuation depending on the strength (or otherwise) of the Yankee dollar.
The clearing requirements also vary according to currency and the type of game you are playing – with full-ring and microstakes games of poker attracting a higher VIP Player Point (VPP)/dollar value than short-handed tables. As a guideline, PokerStars award 5.5 VPPs per dollar raked or paid in tournament entry fees, and release $10.00 increments of the bonus every time you accrue 200 points. You get a pretty generous 120 days in which to clear your full bonus entitlement from the date of the first deposit.
How to Download the PokerStars Software
The PokerStars software is one of the best in the world, and the download and installation process is simple – even if you have limited computer experience.
Visit the PokerStars web site via the link on this page and click on the red button which alternates between displaying “Click Here” and “Play Poker Now”. PokerStars will identify your operating system and – once you click “Save” – will start downloading the Windows .exe or Mac .pkg file to your download folder.
Double-click to open the saved PokerStars installation file and a Wizard appears to guide you through the installation procedure. Make sure you read the PokerStars End User Licence Agreement before agreeing to it, and it is a good idea to check the box to create a PokerStars short-cut on your desktop for ease of access. Once the PokerStars download and installation is completed, the client will launch automatically.
Setting Up a PokerStars Account
When the PokerStars client appears on your screen, you will be asked to “login” by the button to the bottom right of the client. Click on this button and, when a new smaller dialogue box appears, click on “Create New Account”. A new window will then open in which you will be asked to enter a User ID (Screen Name) and password. You are then required to confirm the password and enter (and confirm) an email address.
At the bottom of the window, a box will ask you to tell PokerStars hear how you heard about them. Select “Marketing Code” from the options available in the drop-down box and enter the PokerStars marketing code “PSP14730”. Finally, confirm that you are 18 years of age (or, in our case, much older) and that you have read the End User Licence Agreement. Hit “Create Account” and you are ready to start playing on PokerStars for real money.
Funding a PokerStars Account
PokerStars offer a good selection of options for depositing funds into your account and taking them back out again. The options will vary according to your country of residence and the currency with which you want to fund your PokerStars account, but generally include Visa, MasterCard, Neteller, Skrill and PayPal.
Cash-outs usually go back to the source of the funds from where they came, with the exception of MasterCard and prepaid vouchers such as PaySafe and UKash. You can request one cash-out per week by cheque free of charge, but cannot request a withdrawal within forty-eight hours of your last deposit. PokerStars have an exceptional record for fast withdrawals and you should never have any problems with delays or late payments provided you have verified your account.
PokerStars Loyalty Program
The PokerStars “VIP Club” is a multi-level loyalty program which enables you to exchange the points you collect clearing the PokerStars bonus (and the ones you earn afterwards) for cash rewards, tournament entries and (loosely-termed) “goodies” in the PokerStars shop. PokerStars uses two points systems in allocating points – VIP Player Points (VPPs) and Frequent Player Points (FPPs).
VIP Player Points are the ones you collect for playing in cash games and online poker tournaments. When you first start playing on PokerStars, Frequent Player Points (the ones you actually cash in) are awarded on a 1:1 ratio; but as your status rises, multipliers are applied to the VPPs you collect to increase the rate at which you are awarded FPPs.
Confused? Here is an example:-
Let´s say you clock up 3,000 VIP Player Points in your first month playing on PokerStars. That would be sufficient to release $150.00 of your PokerStars pending bonus into your account and elevate you to the status of “Gold Star”. Players who achieve Gold Star status earn double Frequent Player Points throughout the rest of the month in which they qualify for the enhanced status level and the full month after. So, if you collected 3,000 VPPs in your second month, you would be awarded 6,000 FPPs – which you could exchange for $50.00 in cash, entry to a tournament with a $50.00 buy-in or a nice set of earphones.
Extra Features available on PokerStars
Where to start? PokerStars is laden with extra features to enhance your online poker playing experience. You can play around with the graphics, add your own avatars, colour-code your opponents and customise your VIP Club Progress Bar (you can even select what fanfare you hear when you reach a new VIP Status level!).
There is a Women´s Club (we waiting for a female writer to join the team before we tell you more about that), a multi-table tournament leaderboard competition and thousands of daily, weekly and monthly freeroll tournaments – all offering exclusive PokerStars prizes and bundles of free poker money. There is also quite a decent poker school which will help new players on PokerStars improve their games.
PokerStars is Most Suitable for:-
- Recreational players looking for action on demand
- Players who want to qualify for live poker events
- Players who can adapt to different styles of play on one table
- Good players who want to win a life-changing amount in a feature tournament
Avoid PokerStars if:-
- You have more money than sense – bad play gets punished quickly
- You want to grind out a valuable first deposit bonus
- You cannot stay up late to finish a multi-table tournament
- You live in the States (at least for the present)
- When will PokerStars return to the US?
- Not sure at the moment. Even though the site could generate millions of dollars in tax revenue, legislators are bending to pressure from brick and mortar casinos to keep them out.
- Can I play in the Sunday Majors if I live in France?
- Non – PokerStars can see your location from your ISP address – even if you use a proxy server based in the UK. However, PokerStars.fr does have its own feature tournaments which are generally easier to cash in.
- How many players can PokerStars host at the same time?
- Their world record (set in June 2013) stands at 225,000 players. There were 337.5 million chips in play.
- Are you ever likely to play on the same table as Daniel Negreanu?
- Hopefully not (because he is a good player of course), although Daniel does participate in all the major PokerStars tournament series, such as the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) and the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP).
- Is the PokerStars bonus hard to clear?
- Not really, because of the length of time players are allowed to redeem their bonus. Have a look at our poker bonus page to get tips on how to clear the PokerStars bonus quickly.
- What are the system requirements for the PokerStars software?
PokerStars Download for Windows for MacIntosh System Requirements Minimum Recommended Minimum Recommended Operating System Windows XP Windows 7 Mac OS X 10.4 Mac OS X 10.6+ Processor 100MHz Pentium 333MHz Pentium Power PC G4 Power PC 5 or Intel Memory 64Mb RAM 128Mb RAM 512Mb RAM 1024Mb RAM Disc Space 20MB 60MB 60MB 100MB Screen Resolution 800×600 1024×768 1024×768 1024×768
If you want the PokerStars download for a mobile device, click on the “Mobile” tab when you visit the PokerStars web site, which will take you to a page from where you can download the PokerStars software for iOS or the PokerStars software for Android devices.
- What is the difference between a PokerStars bonus code and a PokerStars marketing code?
- The PokerStars bonus code gets entered in the cashier´s section when you make your first deposit to ensure you get your bonus. The PokerStars marketing code is entered when you first create your account to help PokerStars identify where they should target their marketing budget.
- What does verifying your account mean?
- PokerStars have to verify your ID to make sure that you are not an international terrorist laundering $50.00 through their web site. You will need to provide PokerStars with a copy of your photo ID and a recent proof of address. Details of how to do this appear on the web site.
- I heard you can exchange FPPs for live event packages. Is this right?
- Yes. The more points you earn, and the more you save them, the better deal you will get. Currently packages for EPT Main Events start around 600,000 FPPs.
- Does PokerStars have good security?
- PokerStars is one of the most security-conscious Internet poker sites and actually offers among the goodies in its online store an RSA Security Token which stores a second password to your PokerStars account, giving you two-tier protection against identity theft or somebody hacking into your account.