Detailed PokerStars Review

PokerStars first began offering real money poker games in December 2001 and now sits a top the poker world as the biggest name in poker. In fact, PokerStars domination includes a near 2-to-1 lead as the world’s largest online poker site while also sponsoring live poker tours including the World Poker Tour (WPT), European Poker Tour (EPT), North American Poker Tour (NAPT), Asian Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) and several others. When Full Tilt Poker was not operated PokerStars enjoyed a 10-to-1 lead as the worlds largest cash game and tournament online poker site.

Unfortunately at the moment PokerStars is not allowed to accept US players.

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PokerStars also operates a live-card-room at the Grand Lisboa Casino in Macau, an independent region of China, and runs their own tournament series in the Caribbean each year called the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA).

There are many reasons to choose PokerStars as an online poker home. The biggest reason is of course game selection, with over 150,000 tournament and 55,000 ring game players at PokerStars real money tables during peak house, you can rest assured there is plenty of action at every game and stake offered. In addition to record player volume, PokerStars also has great customer service, a 100% up to $600 sign up bonus and a VIP program that is the equivalent of PokerStars rakeback.

To learn about what PokerStars has to offer visit their website at

PokerStars History was founded in 1999 by Isai Sceinberg, a former IBM programmer from Israel, and his two sons. The poker room’s public beta test ran for a few months prior to launch and by late 2001 PokerStars had entered the market as a real money online poker room. The company was initially a Costa Rican company called Rational Enterprises with 75% ownership held by the Scheinberg family. The company has since been moved to the Isle of Man, a British Crown dependency, where it is licensed by the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission.

The PokerStars public beta-test was their initial key to success. At the time (late 2001) the dominate poker forum was Rec Gambling, and forum regular Terrance Chan who at the time held a consulting and support roll with PokerStars, announced the companies launch via this forum. PokerStars first public-beta promotion was a $5,000 freeroll on October 20, 2001 which required players to earn 1000 FPP to enter (about 10-15 hours playing time). A series of similar freeroll promotions got many players used to playing at PokerStars and through their combination of great software, unlike online poker had seen prior, and several big promotions when PokerStars launched for real money they were an overnight success story that couldn’t have been scripted any better.

In 2012 PokerStars acquired Full Tilt Poker which operates as its own individual site, with overview from PokerStars. With the ability to make player transfers between your own account on PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker you will have easy bankroll access at the 2 largest poker sites on the internet.

PokerStars Endorsements has always had a strong team of sponsored poker pros endorsing their website. In the early days it was 1983 WSOP Main Event Champion Tom McEvoy in a roll as the spokesperson and famous poker author Lee Jones in a roll as the Card Room Manager. The team evolved over the years and now includes most of the recent WSOP Main Event Champions and dozens of big name poker pros such as Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstien, Marcel Luske, Victoria Coren, Humberto Brenes, Joe Cada, Jonathan Duhamel, Bertrand Grospellier, Jason Mercier, Liv Boeree and many more. With PokerStars now a global brand available in over a dozen languages Team PokerStars is now massive and they even have an online division of Team PokerStars. For full details on all Team PokerStars members refer to the PokerStars website link: Team PokerStars.

PokerStars and the World Series of Poker (WSOP) has been the leading source of online poker satellites to the World Series of Poker (WSOP) main event since 2003. To set the stage a bit, the ESPN television broadcast of the 2002 WSOP Main Event final table marked the first time hole-card-cams were used. This broadcast was a huge success and ended with Phil Hellmuth shaving his head as he promised he’d do if an amateur named Robert Varkonyi captured the title. With WSOP ratings at an all time high, ESPN decided to expand its coverage from the 2003 WSOP Main Event dedicating one-episode weekly to each day of the tournament. also seized an opportunity for extra profit, taking advantage of the WSOP’s spike in popularity by offering satellite tournaments to the 2003 WSOP Main Event where players could buy-in small online and work there way up towards winning a $10,000 buy-in Main Event seat. benefited far greater in exposure than any money they’d earned in satellite entry fees, when a 27-year old accountant from Tennessee named Chris Moneymaker was successful in parlaying his $39 PokerStars satellite into a World Series of Poker Main Event Championship worth $2.5 million dollars. This likeable guy, with the perfect name (and yes, that is his real name) made great television as he spent episode after episode as the chip leader all while wearing a PokerStars hat and t-shirt. Here it was the perfect Hollywood Cinderella story of an amateur who played a little online poker online for fun, now sitting against the best in the world with a chance at poker immortality. His story was picked up early as he built a massive chip lead, while eliminating several big pros including Johnny Chan. For those who think fairytales don’t happen in real life the final ten players in the 2003 WSOP Main Event was stacked with the likes of Phil Ivey, David Singer, David Grey, Amir Vahedi, Jason Lester, Dan Harrington and Sam Farha and it was Chris Moneymaker who came out victorious in the end.

Moneymaker’s victory is widely considered the main catalysts to the online-poker boom which followed in the months after his victory. A new term was coined called the “Moneymaker Effect” which basically meant every fish (weak player) and their grandmother was now logging into online poker sites, hoping for the chance to be the next Chris Moneymaker. Online poker then soured to an unprecedented volume and this spilled over to the WSOP and live poker room in general.

To put the effect of Moneymaker’s victory into perspective he topped 839 entrants for the $10,000 buy-in world championship which was at the time a record. In the year following his victory, this record was shattered with 2,576 entrants to the 2004 WSOP Main Event. This event saw Dan Harrington return to the final table, and once again saw a likeable player who won a seat in a PokerStars event named Greg Raymer go the distance capturing $5 million in prize money and the title. The year following the poker boom was now at its height, the 2005 WSOP attracted 5,619 participants (more than 1/3 of which won their seat at and for the third year in a row was won by a PokerStars player, this time Joe Hachem who pocketed $7.5 million dollars and the title. remains the leading site for WSOP Satellites. In 2008 a PokerStars branded player named Peter Eastgate became the youngest Main Event champion in history at age 22 years, 10 months, and 28 days outlasting the events 6,844 to take home the $9,152,416 prize. In 2009 his record was surpassed when yet again a PokerStars branded player named Joe Cada (aged 21 years, 11 months, and 21 days) outlasted 6,494 players to capture the title and $8,547,042.

To qualify for the 2010 WSOP Main Event, get started at

PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA)

PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) is an annual live-poker tournament-series put on by PokerStars. The event started in 2004 as a World Poker Tour Event, however left the WPT in 2008 to become part of PokerStars own European Poker Tour (EPT). This popular event is a favorite with internet players, as it’s a chance to meet up with regulars they’ve played online. To learn more visit the official PCA website.

PokerStars Sponsored Poker Circuits

PokerStars broke into the live tournament scene in 2004 as part owner of the European Poker Tour. Since this time they’ve launched other live-poker tours to expand live poker around the globe while promoting their online poker site. Online qualifiers are available to each tour Main Event. The tours which PokerStars currently hosts are the European Poker Tour APPT, Asian Pacific Poker Tour (APPT), Latin America Poker Tour (LAPT), Australia New Zealand Poker Tour (ANZPT), Italian Poker Tour (IPT), Czech-Slovak Poker Tour (CSPT), Russian Poker Tour (RPT), UK & Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT) and the North American Poker Tour (NAPT). Each tour consists of a series of tournaments held in their region of coverage. To learn more visit this PokerStars website link titled PokerStars Live Poker Tournaments.

PokerStars Online Poker Room

The offers a wider game selection than any other online poker site. Here you’ll find all the standard games such as Texas Holdem, Omaha and 7 Card Stud, but will also find less common games such as Triple Draw, 2-7 NL Lowball, 5 Card Draw, Badugi and more. Here is a chart showing the games available at PokerStars.

Ring Games
Pot Limit
Ring Games
No Limit
Ring Games
Texas Hold’em Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Omaha Yes Yes   Yes Yes
Omaha Hi/Lo Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
7 Card Stud Yes     Yes Yes
7 Card Stud Hi/Lo Yes     Yes Yes
Triple Stud Yes     Yes  
Razz Yes     Yes Yes
5 Card Draw Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Badugi Yes     Yes Yes
2-7 Triple Draw Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2-7 Single Draw     Yes Yes Yes
H.O.R.S.E. Yes     Yes Yes
H.O.S.E. Yes     Yes Yes
8 Game Yes     Yes Yes

PokerStars also offers Mixed Holdem, Mixed Omaha Hi/Lo, Mixed Pot Limit Omaha / Holdem, and 8-game mixed available in both ring games and tournaments. The 8-game mixed is actually quite popular with a few hundred ring game players during peak hours. These tables use a rotation (in order) of Limit Triple Draw, Limit Hold’em, Limit Omaha Hi/Lo, Limit Razz, Limit Stud, Limit Stud Hi/Lo, No Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha.

To get started playing at the World’s largest online poker site, visit

PokerStars Zoom Poker
PokerStars also has its own version of the fast fold variant of poker which they call Zoom Poker. PokerStars Zoom Poker allows players to fold hands they do not like and instantly move onto the next hand instead of having to wait for all players on the table to make their decisions and the hand to finish its natural course.

This means that when you play PokerStars Zoom Poker you can play hundreds of hands per hour, which increases the amount of PokerStars rakeback (VIP cashback) that you can get.

PokerStars Tournaments

PokerStars has a three-to-one lead as the largest online poker site for tournament play. There is so much to cover in what they offer ones head could start to spin thinking where to start. First we’ll start off by saying no matter what your game, betting structure or stakes preferences are, a scheduled tournament is likely to start soon. At PokerStars most every minute on the clock has a few multi-table scheduled to start.

The most prestigious tournament hosted at PokerStars is their weekly Sunday Millions tournament. This $215 buy-in tournament carries a $1.5 million dollar guaranteed prize pool which is often exceeded. For an example of real stats the January 10, 2010 Sunday Millions had 8,721 entrants, 1260 spots where paid and a player using the handle ‘Isetit’ taking home $256,576 for first place. Most professional tournament players consider the Sunday Millions the highest value tournament in online poker. This is because while a fair number of pros gear up each week for the event, the tournament field is largely made up of players who won their seat at PokerStars through the hundreds of satellites that take place each day.

In addition to the Sunday Millions other popular tournaments are a weekly $250K GTD with a $10 buy-in, a monthly 3,000 FPP buy-in $1,000,000 prize-pool freeroll, and several $215 buy-in weekend events covering games outside of No Limit Texas Hold’em.

Sit N’ Go Tournaments

At PokerStars SNG tournaments are offered both in multi table, single table and heads up formats for each of the many variants PokerStars offers. While SNGs are fairly standard we’ll cover some of the unique features offered at PokerStars Sit N’ Goes.

Single Table Tournaments: These are offered in the following formats:

Full Ring: These are your standard 9 handed SNGs paying out 50% to first, 30% to second and 20% to third.

Short Handed SNGs: There are a couple different version of these including a 4-max winner take all, and a 6 max which pays the top two spots.

Double or Nothing SNGs: These are 10 handed tables which end when there are 5 players remaining. Each player remaining is paid double their buy-in; the chips counts at completion are irrelevant. PokerStars no longer offers Double or Nothing (DONs) but have replaced them with Fifty50 SNGs.

Fifty50 SNGs: Half the prize pool is paid out to half the field (similar to the Double or Nothing SNGs) but the remaining 50% of the prize pool is distributed between those players depending on their chip stacks.

Heads up SNGs: These are available in several formats including standard, turbo, and even a deep-stack SNG without blind increases.

Multi Table SNGs: Here you’ll find 2 table, 3 table, 5 table, 10 table and 20 player tables. At Hold’em these run around the clock with plenty of traffic supporting each stake.

PokerStars Tournament Promotions

PokerStars has two different tournament leader board promotions. You can read about them on our pages: PokerStars Sit N’ Go TLB and PokerStars MTT TLB.

As a reminder when you join PokerStars you’ll be welcomed with a 100% up to $600 sign up bonus. For full details visit the PokerStars website.

Updated: October 2012

Comments (41)

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