Pokerstars is the world's biggest poker site, with up to 500,000 players online during the busiest hours. One of the previous reasons for Pokerstars success was their "Team Pokerstars". The Team Pokerstars consisted of 47 of the most well known online and live poker players in the world such as Daniel Negreanu, Theo Jorgensen, Dario Minieri and Johnny Lodden. Playing on Pokerstars gives the average player a chance to play against some of the best players in the world and get an experience they won't get on any other poker site.
Pokerstars was opened for beta testing in September 2001 by Rational Enterprises. Rational Enterprises was originally based out of Costa Rica, but moved their operations to Isle of Man and renamed it to Rational Group. Employing more than 1,500 people in 20 different locations all over the world, Rational Group is among the biggest Igaming companies in the world.
From the launch of real money games Pokerstars accepted players from all countries in the world, including players from USA. In 2003 Pokerstars hosted an online satellite tournament for the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event, which was won by Chris Moneymaker. Chris Moneymaker later on became the first amateur to win the WSOP Main Event and with his win he gave online poker and especially Pokerstars a huge boost.
However, the biggest boost towards making Pokerstars the top poker site in the world didn't come from advertising or similar strategies. The biggest boost came when the American Congress decided to pass the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006. The passing of UIGEA forced companies like PartyPoker to stop accepting American players.
Pokerstars decided to continue to accept American traffic despite the UIGEA bill and had a giant boost in traffic. They would continue to serve American players until April 15th 2011.
On April 15th 2011 (also known as Black Friday) the Pokerstars.com website was seized by the Department of Justice (DOJ) with charges of violating the UIGEA, money laundering and bank fraud. Pokerstars immediately stopped accepting American players and began a dialog with the DOJ.
All American player funds were frozen until a settlement with the DOJ could be reached. In May, only a few weeks after Black Friday, Pokerstars had reached an agreement with the DOJ about facilitating cash outs. The DOJ returned the Pokerstars .com domain in order to facilitate the American player’s cash outs and only a few weeks later the players were paid back in full.
While Pokerstars were paying all their players in a timely manner, Full Tilt Poker struggled to do the same. The problem was caused by the fact that Full Tilt didn't have any money left, due to bad management. You can read the full story here.
With the Full Tilt issue, players were left with a loss of an estimated $731 million. Pokerstars saw an opportunity to strike a deal with the DOJ and obtain their main competitor at the same time and started to negotiate the takeover of Full Tilt Poker.
In July 2012 Pokerstars finalized the deal with the DOJ. They would obtain Full Tilt Poker, pay a $731 million settlement, reimburse non-American players within 90 days and facilitate American player cash outs with supervision of the DOJ. With the purchase of Full Tilt and the settlement package to the DOJ, Pokerstars were now allowed to apply for licenses in the United States when such licenses would be available.
On November 6th 2012, Full Tilt Poker was reopened under Pokerstars management. Non-US players were refunded their bankroll and were able to play or cash out. American players are still waiting for their money as the agreement towards paying them has not yet been 100% finalized.
Learning from the mistakes of the past, Pokerstars now obtain licenses for regulated markets. Pokerstars obtained all major licenses in Europe including the 3 ring fenced nations Italy, Spain and France. Furthermore Pokerstars obtained a Maltese LGA license, to provide tax free games to the non regulated countries within Europe (such as Sweden).
In June of 2014, the poker industry was shocked as the Rational Group, the company who owned both Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker, announced that they had sold Pokerstars, Full Tilt and all other brands under the Rational Group, to Canadian gaming giants, Amaya Gaming.
Amaya Gaming paid a massive $4.9 billion for Pokerstars and the other brands under the Rational Group and told the world that they weren't planning on changing anything in the way the site was being administrated, keeping all employees and departments around the world. The only significant change was that Isai Scheinberg would no longer be in charge of the world's biggest poker site and most well known poker brand.
Not long after Amaya Gaming had taken over control of the brands, the first changes started happening for the players. The rake was highered, the rewards got lower and new games were introduced along with casino games. The new Pokerstars has not been very well accepted amongst the regulars on the site, but Pokerstars is currently doing better than ever under Amaya's leadership.
Pokerstars' software is provided by their own development team from the Rational Group. Pokerstars still have the original table theme they started with in 2001, but have made many new and improved themes as well for players to use. Pokerstars' software is without comparison the best online poker software there is on the market, with its cutting edge features and amazing graphics.
Pokerstars have 16 different table themes to choose from and each theme is customizable to player’s individual liking. The lobby has filter settings for every kind of game, format and stake and is available in 25 different languages.
To continue to improve the software, Pokerstars has made a thread in the popular Two plus Two forums, where players can come with their suggestions towards improving the software, complain about bugs and everything else. By doing this, Pokerstars have shown that they listen to what the players want and design their client around the players wishes.
Pokerstars offers downloadable software for Windows, Mac and Linux. The software runs on any newer device without any problems. Pokerstars also offers mobile and tablet poker. Players can go directly to the App Store or Android Market and download the application. Once downloaded, players can play wherever they go as long as they have an active internet connection.
In 2014, Pokerstars launched their brand new poker client known as Pokerstars 7. Pokerstars 7 had been in beta mode for a long period of time, where players had been able to switch between the regular software and the Pokerstars 7 software and find bugs, ask for features missing and so on.
In late 2014 the client was integrated for almost all players, with a look that is said to be more recreational player friendly. Many players have complained about the client, due to the significant changes being made, but overall it has been well recepted by the players of the site.
The new client provides players with easier access to the tournament and sit n go formats that they would like to play, sophisticated filters as well as the feature to join a cash game table based on how you prefer it to be. Many more features has also been integrated in comparison to the old client, but it is not anything major.
Pokerstars has the best games you can find online. Having the most traffic of all poker sites in the world means that you can always find a good game no matter when you're checking.
Variants of Poker
Pokerstars has the biggest variety of different poker games found online, with 18 different types of poker.
- Texas Hold'em
- Omaha / Omaha Hi/Lo
- 5 Card Omaha / 5 Card Omaha Hi/Lo
- Courchevel / Courchevel Hi/Lo
- Seven Card Stud / Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo
- Triple Stud
- Horse & 8-Game
- Five Card Draw
- 2-7 Triple Draw / 2-7 Single Draw
As you can see, Pokerstars have a great variety of games to be played.
Zoom Poker is Pokerstars version of the popular fast-fold poker game. Zoom Poker was introduced in March 2012 and quickly became one of the most popular games. What makes Zoom Poker unique is the speed of the game, being the fastest online due to Pokerstars massive traffic. Every time a player folds his hand, he will be taken to a new table and dealt a new hand, increasing the amounts of hands played significantly.
Zoom Poker is the ideal format for players that like to play many hands, but aren’t fond of playing multiple tables at the same time. Furthermore playing Zoom Poker makes it easier for the hobby player to earn VIP points and unlock bonuses faster.
Pokerstars has the world's biggest tournament schedule in terms of guaranteed prizes as well as amount of tournaments running daily. Having the official Guinness World Record for most participants in a online poker tournament (225,000 participants Sunday June 16th 2013), Pokerstars has shown the world that they can host tournaments bigger than any other.
With a Sunday schedule including the Sunday Warm-Up and Sunday Million, Pokerstars guarantees $1,500,000 for these 2 tournaments alone and well over $5,000,000 in the remaining tournaments.
Besides the regular tournament schedule, Pokerstars hosts yearly events such as the Spring Online Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP), Micro Millions, World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) and Turbo Championship of Online Poker (TCOOP). These events guarantees between $5,000,000 and $40,000,000 in total prizes, but are known to hit even bigger prize pools with the massive amount of players playing.
Live Events - Live streaming events
Pokerstars sponsors many live poker tournaments, including the European Poker Tour (EPT) and Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure (PCA). Pokerstars make sure that the setup of the tournaments is of the highest quality and guarantees big prize pools.
For players not able to play these kind of tournaments, Pokerstars live streams many of the tournaments directly on their blog website. Here you can see the world's best poker players play, with professional commentary and Team Pokerstars guest commentary.
Pokerstars Home Games is a tool provided to players to create their own poker club online. Home Games let you control what games to be played, who can join the tables and invite new members. When a player has created a Home Game Club, he simply sends out his club-id to his friends and they can join the club. The Home Games function is a great tool for friends that wish to play against each other online without having to play strangers at the same time.
Sit n Go
Pokerstars is the leading place for players to play sit n go's, as they have the best traffic of all sites in the world. You will find everything from 180 man sit n go's, to hyper heads-up and there's everything you could possibly imagine inbetween. No matter which game, stake, variant and speed you prefer, there's always several games running around the clock for you.
Spin n Go
Spin n Go is a new concept that Pokerstars integrated in 2014, which provides players with the chance to win up to 3,000 times their buy-in price. A Spin n Go runs with three players who pays a buy-in and competes for a prize. Once the sit n go starts, a jackpot counter will appear and show how big the prize pool will be. The prize pool will be from two times the buy-in and up to 3,000 the buy-in, so if you hit the jackpot and win the tournament, you might win up to $30,000 for as little as a $10 buy-in.
Pokerstars uses the weighted contributed rake allocation system for all their games. This means that if you pay $0.1 in rake, you will be awarded VIP Points for $0.1 in rake.
Pokerstars have one of the lowest rakes online, with a cash game rake percentage of 1 – 4.5% depending on the game and stakes. For tournaments and sit 'n' goes Pokerstars charges between 5 – 20% rake.
Pokerstars raised their rake significantly in November of 2014, where the rake for tournaments were increased, same for sit n go's and heads-up cash games. The rake increase means that players will be paying upwards of 10% more rake overall in a year, which has caused players to complain loudly in the forums. The rake is still amongst the lowest in the industry however.
You can find all information regarding Pokerstars rake scheme on Pokerstars website.
Pokerstars is well known for not doing a lot of big promotions for individual players. All players are entitled to their VIP program, a first deposit bonus or a free money bonus.
What Pokerstars lack in promotions, they make up for in value as they have the biggest tournament schedule in the world, the most cash game traffic as well as more sit 'n' go traffic than any other network.
Pokerstars does not have any flat rakeback scheme, but offers a Pokerstars VIP system instead.
The VIP system consists of 7 different levels, which gives more value the higher up the ladder you get. To climb the ladder of the Pokerstars VIP system levels, you have to earn VIP Player Points (VPP). Earning these will give you cash bonuses, freeroll tickets and exclusive items from the Pokerstars Store.
You can read much more about the Pokerstars VIP Club on Pokerstars website.
Security and Fairness
Pokerstars takes their players security very serious and provides its players with different option to avoid getting their account hacked.
The RSA Token is a security device, which gives you a unique key to enter along with your password. If you have the RSA Token you cannot access your account without your 4 digit PIN and the 6 digit code from the token. This provides a unique security for players, as it makes it virtually impossible for hackers and thief's to steal money from accounts.
SMS Validation is the latest tool from Pokerstars to avoid accounts being hacked. When activated, Pokerstars will send you an SMS with a secret password and suspend all activities on your account until the password has been entered.
Pokerstars will suspend the account and send out the secret password if they see irregularities in the account usage or strange IP's trying to log on to the account.
Random Number Generator (RNG)
To secure fair gaming, Pokerstars uses a Random Number Generator (RNG) to decide the outcome of which cards will be dealt and shown as community cards. Pokerstars RNG has been checked by Cigital, who is one of the largest consulting firms specializing in software security and quality. They have checked everything from the source code to specific algorithms and confirmed that everything is as it should be. You can see the full detailed report on Pokerstars website.