PokerStars.com is still the most famous online poker room in the world in 2022
PokerStars is a world-famous poker brand which has the distinction of being a name that is not only recognized by poker fans, but also by those who have never even played the game. First launched back in 2001 by the Sheinberg brothers, PokerStars has been around for over two decades, most of which it has enjoyed the enviable top spot in the online poker world. PokerStars is regarded by many to be one of the best poker rooms around thanks to a number of factors, not least excellent software, great reliability, well-run games across all formats and well-developed customer service. The elite poker room is renowned for its superb tournament grid with prize pool guarantees that can make millionaires overnight. It’s a testament to PokerStars that we associate such massive tournament series as EPT, APPT and PSPC. When it comes to Cash Games, PokerStars also delivers, with the classic Hold’em and Omaha not being the only formats available – if you feel like broadening your poker horizons you’ll find more exotic games such as HORSE, Badugi, and Razz to pique your interest.
In this PokerStars review we have compiled all the most recent information, complete with the latest developments and innovations, as well as the ‘real’ rakeback on offer and the relative softness of the field. Read on for more details.
In June 2014, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker were bought by Amaya Gaming Group Inc. for just under five billion US dollars. Since 2017 the company has been running under the name The Stars Group Inc.
The website is operated by TSG Interactive Gaming Europe Limited, a company registered in Malta under company number C54266 with its registered office at Villa Seminia, 8, Sir Temi Zammit Avenue, Ta ‘Xbiex, XBX 1011, Malta. The license with the number MGA / B2C / 213/2011 was granted on August 1, 2018. Maltese VAT number MT24413927.
Many well-known names from the poker world – such as Chris Moneymaker, Barry Greenstein, Daniel Negreanu and others – were or are still part of the PokerStars team. With a proven track record over the years that has included countless top quality, high profile tournament series and a well-placed media presence that even features TV shows (such as “TV Total PokerStars.de Night with Stefan Raab”), the success of PokerStars is completely justified. The company is associated among players with a professional, serious approach and has deservedly retained an excellent, incredibly well-respected reputation.
However, the company’s focus has changed significantly in recent years, and the poker product has suffered as a result. Increasing the rake and doing away with the in-house rakeback offer are just a couple of the issues to which many players have reacted negatively. In the poker community, the introduction of various casino games by PokerStars was perceived by some purists as a negative move because it can be detrimental to online poker itself but, on the other hand, there are others who like to switch to the casino occasionally, and for those this option was a welcome addition. Generally, however, it must be said that the more recent strategic direction undertaken by PokerStars has undermined the poker room’s hitherto solid grip on the global poker crown.
Pokerstars Promotions, Rakeback, Bonuscode 2021
All new players at PokerStars can receive a first deposit bonus. The player has a choice between $30 in cash and tickets or a 200% welcome bonus up to $600 in several installments. PokerStars also offers PokerStars Rewards and the Deal Jackpot, which are two promotion programs with semi-random prizes. We will talk about the PokerStars Rewards program a bit later on in the review.
PokerStars also features certain tasks or challenges, which are constantly running in the poker room. For example, they may require you to win a certain amount in a cash game with a certain hand for an extra reward. In general, PokerStars will always inform abut current and new promotions on its official website and social media such as Instagram, Twitter, and Twitch.
Rake and Rakeback
Rake is charged according to the weighted contributed systems and follows the no-flop, no-drop principle. Rake at PokerStars never exceeds $5 per hand and can even be as low as $0.30. The amount of rake greatly depends on the type of cash game, stakes, and the number of players in the hand. Here is a brief overview of rake at PokerStars
Rake in No-Limit Hold’em, Pot-Limit Omaha, and Omaha Hi/Lo
On High Stakes (from $5/$10 and higher):
- from 4.5% to 5%
- $0.01/$0.02 – 3.3%
- $0.02/$0.05 – 3.9%
- $0.05/$0.10 – 4.25%
- $0.10/$0.25 – 4.25%
In other types of no-limit cash games:
- $0.01/$0.02 – 3.5%
- $0.02/$0.05 – 4.15%
- $0.05/$0.10 to $0.10/$0.25 – 4.5%
- $0.25/$0.50 to $3/$6 – 5.0%
Rake in Games with Fixed Limit
- From $0.02/$0.04 to $0.05/$1 – 4.5%
- From $1/$2 to $15/$30 – 2.0%
- From $20/$40 and higher – 1.0%
Tournament rake at PokerStars is charged together with the participation fee and is included in the buy-in.
PokerStars has had trouble with its rakeback system since 2017 when they abandoned their classic and popular rakeback system. Ever since that time, most poker players were unable to receive any significant cashback from these chests. It is probably due to this reason why PokerStars started to lose ground in terms of online traffic to its main competitor GGPoker. The rivalry was lost when GGNetwork managed to surpass PokerStars in terms of the number of cash players in June 2021. However, two weeks prior to this historic event, PokerStars began to test its new version of the rewards program with a focus on more rakeback, which we will discuss right now in more detail.
Even though the new PokerStars Rewards program still has the infamous chests, it is clear that this version is a return to its original rakeback system. Just like the original cashback program, this new version is based on two main principles. The first one is that players will get direct rakeback based on their profits. And the second one is that the maximum rakeback a player can receive is 65%.
The main rules of the new PokerStars Rewards are the following:
- 100 points are awarded for each $1 in rake
- Each chest has a fixed amount of points required to open it
- Each chest will reward a player with a fixed prize
- Each chest must be opened within 30 days after receiving
- There is a 28 days time limit to reach the next level of chests
- Players that are unable to reach the new level can exchange their points for a lower level chest
- The amount of prizes acquired within the specified period determines the progress to the next level
- When reaching Silver Chests, the player can participate in monthly tasks
- Monthly tasks are individual bonuses with a wagering period with a rakeback between 10% and 40%
- If the player fails to achieve the required amount of points during the monthly task, then the task is canceled
Here is a table for a better overview:
|Chest||Value||Rakeback||Monthly challenges rakeback (up to)||Total Rewards||Points Required||Rake Required||Number of chests in the level|
In order to get to the Black Chests, you will have to accumulate at least $4,769.9 rake in 28 days. PokerStars guarantees that all players will receive rakeback anywhere from 15% to 35%. Values above 35% will be received by chance, which is the only element of randomness in this whole system.
As a nice bonus, all poker games will count towards the reward program including cash games and tournaments. Moreover, players can get rewards by playing anything on PokerStars including sports betting and other casino games.
Games and Traffic
Currently, PokerStars is in the top spot in the PokerScout rankings in terms of traffic with 10,000 daily connections on average. There are around 5,000 online players in various games and this number can go up to 9,000 during peak time (around 20:00 GMT). When it comes to traffic at PokerStars, it is fair to say that there is action everywhere.
Cash Games: Hold’em, Omaha, Fast-Fold
There is no surprise that Texas Hold’em is the most popular poker format at PokerStars. Texas Hold’em is offered at stakes from $0.01/$0.02 all the way up to $200/$400. The majority of the field can be found at the lowest stakes up to $0.5/$1. Traffic at high stakes is less stable. If you want to find a high-stakes table, it is better to do so during peak time or weekends. No-Limit Hold’em tables are offered in dollars and euros. You can also choose between 9-max and a 6-max format. Needless to say that 6-max is much more popular.
Unfortunately, Omaha is not as popular as Hold’em. However, it still features plenty of action at micro-stakes and up to $1/$2. Omaha is only available in a 6-max format.
Zoom is a local adaptation of the fast-fold poker. It is available in Pot-Limit Omaha and No-Limit Hold’em at the same stakes as “classic” tables. Moreover, they are available in a HU format. You also have a choice between tables with or without caps.
PokerStars constantly introduces new and unusual formats such as Swap, Deep Water, and Tempest. Even though some of these poker formats don’t gain much popularity, they are still able to freshen up the room. PokerStars also offers HORSE, Mixed Hold’em, Stud, Razz, 2-7, Badugi, and 5-card draw.
PokerStars is widely regarded to have the best tournament grid in the entire online poker world. This is largely due to their huge guarantees and a wide variety of poker formats such as: Hold’em and Omaha variations, Stud, Mixed Games, Freezouts, Zoom, PKO, hyper-turbo, regular, and many others. Here are some of the tournaments offered by PokerStars:
- Sunday Storm $150,000 GTD, for $11.
- Sunday Million GTD $1,000,000 GTD, for $109.
- Sunday HR $150,000 GTD, for $1,050.
- Bounty Builder HR $350,000 GTD, for $530.
- Mini Bounty Builder HR $300,000 GTD, for $55.
- Sunday Supersonic $12,000 GTD, for $215.
- Sunday Komania, Progressive Knockout $8,000 GTD, for $109.
- Omania $2,000 GTD, for $55
PokerStars also runs regular satellites which start from $0.22 and run throughout the day.
Spin & Go
PokerStars was one of the first poker rooms to popularize Spin & Go. The blinds in the local Spin & Go depend on the multiplier. Here is a table with multipliers and their probabilities:
|PRIZE POOL MULTIPLIER||$0.25 FIRST-PLACE PRIZE||$1 FIRST-PLACE PRIZE||$2 FIRST-PLACE PRIZE||FREQUENCY|
|12,000||$2,500||$10,000||$20,000||1 in 1,000,000|
|240||$50||$200||$400||30 in 1,000,000|
|120||$25||$100||$200||75 in 1,000,000|
|25||$6.25||$25||$50||1,000 in 1,000,000|
|10||$2.50||$10||$20||5,000 in 1,000,000|
|5||$1.25||$5||$10||85,000 in 1,000,000|
|3||$0.75||$3||$6||414,012 in 1,000,000|
|2||$0.50||$2||$4||494,882 in 1,000,000|
Please note that the x10 multiplier rewards two players and the x25 (and above) multiplier will reward all of the participants. The buy-ins for these tournaments constantly change and depend on special events and promotions. However, their entry fees range from $0.25 to $1,000. Spin & Go is not only offered in the No-Limit Hold’em 3-max format but also in the Pot-Limit Omaha format across 5 different stakes from $1 to $25.
PokerStars also offers Spin & Go Max, which has some interesting features. It has increased randomness in the number of players (ranges from 3 to 8). It is offered at 7 stakes from $1 to $100 and also has a maximum multiplier of x12,000. The winner has an opportunity to choose 1 of 3 random rewards.
PokerStars is a highly recognizable brand even outside of the poker world. It constantly attracts new players and has a huge international community. This poker room was able to attract many celebrities to its ambassador teams such as Lex Veldhuis, Sam Grafton, Jennifer Shahade, Andre Coimbra, and even the Brazilian football star Neymar Jr. However, it is hard to say that PokerStars has a soft field. You are likely to encounter many regulars even at the lowest stakes. This is largely due to the fact that PokerStars allows the use of tracking software. But, you won’t face many hardcore grinders as well, due to restrictions on table selection and a different rakeback approach.
When it comes to PokerStars’ attitude towards professional players, it is fair to say that regulars could have been treated better. PokerStars openly declares that regulars should look for another room if they want to play poker for a living. However, PokerStars does allow tracking software, which makes the local conditions quite favorable for regulars. On top of that, there are simply no other alternatives among large poker operators. Here is a brief summary of what is allowed by PokerStars:
- Tracking software such as Hand2Note, Holdem Manager, and PokerTracker
- Downloading hand history
- Tracking player activity through search
- Taking notes
- Targeting weaker players (bumhunt)
PokerStars has its own department responsible for developing local software and supporting it further down the road. PokerStars software is quite reliable and works without any delays or freezes. Crashes are extremely rare as well. However, there has been some controversy regarding the Aurora engine. This engine introduced by PokerStars to its client was very demanding and many older computers had trouble running it. Luckily, Aurora can be disabled.
You can download the PokerStars client for Windows and macOS. The poker client is completely the same on both platforms. In general, the client is very well designed and is user-friendly. The PokerStars client also has some unique features such as active waiting lists, all-in cashout, run it twice and it even lets you throw objects at your opponents at the table.
PokerStars also has a stand-alone mobile app for smartphones running Android or iOS. This mobile app lets you access all of the cash games available from the main client.
Verification and Security
PokerStars has been able to make a name for itself throughout its 20 years of work. It is undeniably one of the best poker rooms in terms of reliability and trustworthiness. PokerStars actively tries to resolve all of the clients’ problems and assist them with their questions. RNG certificates and gambling licenses can be easily checked on their official website.
Account verification is required in order to withdraw the funds from the poker room. It usually takes no more than 3 days and will ask you to present the following documents:
- Passport / National ID / Drivers License
- Utility bill with your full name and address (not older than 3 months)
- Bank statement (not older than 3 months)
- Copy of the front side of your credit card (if you used it to deposit funds)
You can send these documents in the “Contact Us” section of the PokerStars client.
Deposits and Withdrawals
PokerStars offers all of the most popular payment methods available for online poker such as Skrill, Neteller, and ecoPayz. However, cryptocurrency payment is still unavailable, which is a big downside for some users. It also supports CAD, USD, Euro, and British Pound currencies. As you can see from the table above, the minimum deposit amount is $5 and the maximum is $1,000. You can increase your deposit limits if you contact customer service. PokerStars also does not take any additional fees for money transfers. The actual list of available payment methods will of course depend on your country. The withdrawal time usually takes minutes through e-wallets but can take several days when using credit cards.
Overall, PokerStars is a very solid poker room and continues to top online poker rankings for good reasons. Even though there is some controversy regarding the local rakeback system, it is fully compensated by an insane amount of traffic and an excellent selection of cash games and tournaments. PokerStars is a room that will be suitable for recreational players as well as regulars. What’s more important is the fact that PokerStars is known for its reliability and trustworthiness meaning that your funds are always kept safe
Absolutely! PokerStars is as reputable a poker provider as they come, having long established a deserved reputation as a worthy, safe and secure home for countless players from around the world.
Currently the largest online poker room, Pokerstars is, not surprisingly, very popular indeed. Whether or not it could be assigned ‘the best’ status is another matter, and, in fact, the site would not be our first recommendation. This is because other providers have more advantages for players than PokerStars and tend, therefore, to be more attractive prospects. Consequently, given that it can be argued that the more discerning player frequents PokerStars, the result is a more knowledgeable player pool than is the case with many poker rooms. This alone is one reason why many who are looking to generate profit while having fun at the virtual tables prefer the more potentially fertile pastures of other providers.
Yes they have! In fact, up to 65% Rakeback is possible.
18 is the youngest age requirement.
Yes, there is a poker app with which you can easily play on a smartphone or tablet.
Yes! You can play on a Windows PC or on a Mac.
Of course. PokerStars has a very large international player pool, with players from all over the world. Note that a small number of countries, such as Spain, Italy, France or the USA, have separate pools of players.