The launch of PokerStars in New Jersey back in 2016 was maybe the most anticipated event in the history of US online poker. Since, PokerStars has brought the heft of its international brand back into the US and re-established itself as a major player in the expanding US poker scene.
Its partnership with Mount Airy Casino in Pennsylvania and the launch of online poker in PA in 2019 brought it one step further into the US market. And PokerStars Michigan became the third state to see the return of PokerStars for online poker players when it launched, in partnership with the Odawa Casino Resort, in January 2021.
Current US states where you can play real-money poker on PokerStars:
How Can I Play on PokerStars in the US?
You can open a new PokerStars account from anywhere in the US (and play play-money poker). But you must be physically within a licensed state’s borders (and be of legal age) to play real money poker.
Below find a complete overview of what PokerStars currently offers poker players in the US; check back to see which new states have been or are soon to be added.
PokerStars marketing code
|PokerStars Marketing Code:||None - Use Links
|Free Money Offer:||Play 1 hand, get $50 in free play|
|PokerStars Marketing Code:||STARS600|
|First Deposit Bonus:||100% up to $600|
|Available To:||Adults 21 or older, located in MI, NJ & PA|
|Last Verified:||Oct.7, 2020|
How to Get Free Money on PokerStars
After opting in and completing a Cash Hand Game of play 1 hand and get $50 in free play, user will receive a total of three (3) chests worth an aggregate total of $50 described below:
- Day 1: 2 x $5 Spin & Go tickets
- Day 3: 2 x $5 Spin & Go tickets and 1 x $10 ticket
- Day 5: 2 x $10 tickets
Each chest must be opened within 7 days of receipt.
PokerStars Spin & Go’s
Spin & Go’s are PokerStars’ signature Jackpot Sit & Go tournaments which multiply the prize pool randomly before the tournament begins. Buy-ins are from $1-$25 and each tournament then awards from 2x to 1,000 times your buy-in.
Spin & Go’s are three-handed turbo events that play out very fast and can give you amazing opportunities for big scores (up to $25,000 prize pools) compared to the buy-in.
Note that Spin & Go’s are not available in Pennsylvania.
PokerStars Deposit Bonus
The first-deposit bonus for PokerStars US players, using the marketing code STARS600, is:
- 100% match bonus up to $600
That means whatever amount you deposit (up to $600) will be matched by PokerStars in bonus money.
The bonus releases in $10 increments for every 100 VIP Player Points (VPPs) earned. That is equivalent to an unprecedented 55% rakeback rate.
PokerStars awards VPPs at a rate of 5.5 for every $1 in rake paid at cash games, SNGs and tournaments. Any portion of the bonus not cleared within 120 days expires.
As part of the offer, players also get a $5,000 depositor freeroll ticket.
New PokerStars players have two ways to download the PokerStars platform and hit the tables:
- Full PokerStars download for PC or Mac (Apple)
- Download PokerStars app for your iPhone/iPad/Android
Both are fast and simple. To start the download on your computer, just click the appropriate link below for your state to get to the main PokerStars download page. Here are shortcuts for NJ and PA:
- Download PokerStars NJ right here
- Download PokerStars PA right here
- Download PokerStars MI right here
PokerStars software works for both for PCs and Macs; it’ll self-prompt you to download the proper format for your computer type. Once you’ve downloaded the PokerStars software you’ll finish the registration process by:
- Creating your Stars ID (your poker screen name)
- Setting your password
- Entering the rest of your personal details required (email, age, etc) a
- Bonus Code (see above)
Your account will be operational in minutes. You can also access your 1 million in play-money chips right away. If you want to play real money poker at PokerStars, you’ll also need to:
- Download the Geolocation software to confirm you’re within New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Michigan state borders
- Make a deposit to your account via any of the accepted methods via the “Cashier” tab
More on your deposit (& cashout) options below.
Download the PokerStars App
PokerStars has a slick and easy-to-use poker app for playing both play-money and real money poker. You can open an account via the App alone or create an account on your desktop and then log-in via the App to play.
To download the app for your iPhone, iPad or Android:
- Click through on this link to the PokerStars landing page
- Download the app to your iOS or Android device
- Register your account (or log in to your created account)
- Make a deposit or buy/play with play-money chips
PokerStars App – Game Play
The PokerStars app is made for poker players so its known for its ease-of-use and in-game functionality.
Finding cash games and tournaments is simple with a slide bar to scroll through cash games, MTTs, SnGs and Spin & Go’s; there’s also a tab at the top to toggle between real-money and play-money games.
The Lobby, Cashier, My Stars account, Challenges, Leaderboards and Customizable settings are also easy to find and use. If you want to make a real-money deposit it’s hard to miss the “Deposit” icon – just tap and you’ll be walked through depositing in a few simple steps.
As for the action at the tables, as PokerStars has always been made by poker players the betting slide bars and buttons are well positioned and easily distinguishable to avoid miss clicks.
Following the action at the table is clear and straight-forward and the betting bar allows for quick increment changes. Check/fold buttons are also big and visible as are set betting increments. Multi-tabling is also possible via the app.
PokerStars cash games and tournaments
PokerStars offers the widest variety of cash games in US online poker:
- No Limit Hold ’em
- Limit Hold ’em
- Pot Limit Ohama
- Limit Omaha Hi/Lo
- Eight Game
- Limit Stud
- Limit Stud Hi/Lo
And the list goes on. No Limit Hold‘em games dominate the lobby with popular stakes running from $0.05/$0.10 to $2.50/$5.00. NL Hold ‘em Zoom Poker (fast-fold) games also go off regularly, even more so when there’s a cash game promotion running.
SNGs are always popular on PokerStars. The ones that do run are generally low- to mid-stakes No Limit Hold ‘em turbo games. Most of the site’s SNGs are of the 6-max variety, although heads-up games run as well.
Spin ‘n Gos
As mentioned above, Spin & Go’s are arguably the site’s most popular format. These three-person, hyper turbo games are known for their randomized payouts and blistering pace.
The format is available at the $1, $2, $5, $10 and $25 buy-in levels, and feature jackpot prizes of 1,000x a player’s buy-in.
Multi-table tournaments (MTTs)
PokerStars is the home for New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan’s biggest online tournament series events. The annual New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan Championships of Online Poker and Spring Championship of Online Poker feature dozens of events and $1 million+ guaranteed prize pools.
PokerStars also host a nice selection of smaller tournament series events throughout the calendar year, and special events like PennsylMania. That’s a recurring special event which had a prize pool of over half a million dollars with just a $200 buy in on its first go.
As for its daily and weekly MTT schedules, PokerStars also makes the grade. The site offers a dozen nightly majors with buy-ins ranging from $5 to $100 and spanning multiple game formats.
Weekend tournaments guarantee as much as $50,000, and often more during special events. Here’s a quick glimpse of PokerStars’ most popular tournament offerings in the US:
- The Big $5 (4 p.m. EST): $5 buy-in, $500 guaranteed
- The Big $30 (5 p.m. EST): $30 buy-in, $1,000 guaranteed
- The Big $50 (6 p.m. EST): $50 buy-in, $2,000 guaranteed
- The Big $10 (6 p.m. EST): $10 buy-in, $1,000 guaranteed
- The Big $20 (7 p.m. EST): $20 buy-in, $1,500 guaranteed
More daily tournaments include:
- Hot Turbos
- KO Fever
- Nightly Stars
- Moonlight Express for No-Limit Hold ’em
- Change-up for Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo and Stud
Sunday Majors on PokerStars US
- Sunday Warm-Up (4 p.m. EST): $50 buy-in, $8,500 guaranteed
- Sunday Storm (5 p.m. EST): $10 buy-in, $4,500 guaranteed
- Sunday Special (6 p.m. EST): $200 buy-in, $45,000 guaranteed
- Sunday High Roller (7 p.m. EST): $500 buy-in, $15,000 guaranteed
- Sunday Supersonic (10 p.m. EST): $75 buy-in, $5,000 guaranteed
PokerStars Home Games
One of the favorite features for some players on PokerStars is the Home Games feature, which allows you to set up your own private poker club. You can then invite your friends to play poker online in any format you like, from cash games to tournaments to SnGs.
If you live or play in PA and NJ you can do so against each other with real money in your accounts. You can also play with play money and settle up outside of the poker game itself.
PokerStars Deposits & Cashouts
With fully licensed and legal online poker comes a slew of easy-to-use and secure deposit and withdrawal methods. All transactions, via either the desktop or app, are encrypted, secure and protected.
Once your proper account ID and verification are set-up depositing to PokerStars NJ or PokerStars PA is virtually instantaneous. Popular deposit methods include:
- Instant e-checks (ACH)
- Mastercard/Visa credit or debit cards
- PokerStars Instant online banking
- PayNearMe (7/11)
- Cash at the Live Casino partner’s cage (check with casino to confirm: Resorts Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ; Mount Airy Casino in PA; Odawa Casino in Petoskey, MI)
- PokerStars Play+ Card
Of these, players should consider Instant e-checks as their first line of offense. The Play+ Card is also a great option for players who have trouble completing ACH transactions. Those who favor in-person transactions are best opting for PayNearMe or cash at the casino cage.
Players are slightly more restricted with regard to withdrawals but still have plenty of options in both states:
- Instant e-checks
- Cash at the cage
- PokerStars Play+ Card
Generally speaking players must use a method as a deposit vehicle first before withdrawing via the same method.
Poker Stars Promotions
Alongside the Free Play and Deposit Bonuses, PokerStars NJ, PokerStars PA, PokerStars MI run plenty of ongoing promotions for players. Among the current or past promotions we’ve seen:
- $10,00 Summer Holidays Challenge
- Daily $20,000 Golden Button Challenge
- Monthly MTT Leaderboards
- Online satellites and Spin & Go’s for live tournament seats and packages
Check PokerStars’ promotions page in a particular state for ongoing promotions.
PokerStars Live Tournaments & Packages
PokerStars hosts some pretty spectacular live events around the world and players in the US can take advantage of low buy-in satellites online to win seats and packages. Players can win seats and full travel packages to live events including:
- European Poker Tour
- PokerStars Caribbean Adventure
- PokerStars Live London
and more. Also expected to return in 2020 was the:
- PokerStars Players NL Hold’em Championship (PSPC)
The first edition ran in 2019 and awarded over $26 million in total to players that cashed.
Buy-in is €22,500 (approximately $25,000) but you can win your way there for much, much cheaper via the online satellites. Find the full daily and weekly satellite schedule for live events in the ‘Events’ and ‘Live’ tabs in the lobby.
PokerStars player rewards
All real money poker players at PokerStars are eligible for reward prizes through the Stars Rewards Program. Players get personalized rewards based on their playing preferences across all of the site’s products – casino and sports betting included.
Players who play real money games earn Rewards Points as they play. As you accrue points you’ll fill up an on-screen progress bar. When you reach the end of the bar for that reward level you will earn a Reward Chest to open.
Inside the Chest will be personalized rewards that best suit your level of play. There are six chest levels of increasing size and average value:
- Blue Chest ($0.25-$5)
- Bronze Chest ($0.60-$12)
- Silver Chest ($1.50-$30)
- Gold Chest ($5-$100)
- Diamond Chest ($12.50-$250)
- Black Chest ($35-$700)
Chests can contain StarsCoin — a virtual currency that players can spend at the site’s rewards store — tickets, and goods tailored to players’ preferences. Players can also win Top Rewards, which are massive prizes divided randomly among chests.
Boosts are also available whereby players will earn points at an augmented rate for a limited time.
PokerStars Customer Service
PokerStars offers an extensive FAQ portal divided into four primary sections:
- Deposit and Cash Out
Most of the common questions people have when creating/using a PokerStars account can be solved right there. Players can also fill out the site’s support form to request a callback or written response from an agent.
Is PokerStars Safe?
Beyond being one of the most reputable online poker brands in the entire world, every PokerStars US poker site is subject to rigorous vetting and regulations by the individual state’s Department of Gaming Enforcement.
- In NewJersey, PokerStars has been approved and licensed by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE).
- In Pennsylvania, PokerStars has been approved and licensed by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PCGB).
- In Michigan, PokerStars has been approved and licensed by the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MCGB).
It’s more than accurate to say PokerStars stands apart as one of the safest poker sites online.
Virtual Reality has come to poker in the form of PokerStars VR. If you choose to dive in, your perception of live poker will never be the same.
You’ll need the proper VR equipment (and graphics support) to try it out but if you do you’ll be rewarded with a one-of-a-kind, authentic, free poker experience like you’ve never seen before. PokerStars VR offers:
- Dazzling realism from chip to cards to players to dealers
- Real opponents in free ring games
- Immersive, total poker experience with authentic body language, props and accessories
- Play against your friends on private tables or against other players across the world
- Streaming media integration
- Free chips and in-game purchases
- Exotic playing locales including Macau 2050, Monte Carlo Yacht, Showdown Saloon and Galaxy Space Station
- New SnGs plus weekly leaderboards
You can download PokerStars VR from:
- Oculus Store
PokerStars US FAQ
Is PokerStars Legal in the US?
Yes. PokerStars officially relaunched to players in New Jersey on March 21, 2016. It launched in Pennsylvania on Nov. 4, 2019. It arrived in Michigan on January 29, 2021. These are currently the only 3 states where PokerStars can legally offer online poker games for real-money but more are soon to come.
Can I play at PokerStars in states outside of New Jersey?
PokerStars is currently licensed to offer games in three US states: New Jersey, Pennsylvania & Michigan.
Players from anywhere can sign up and create a new account but to play real money poker online (either cash games or tournaments) you must be physically within the state’s borders. You do not have to be a resident of either state to play.
How does PokerStars know I’m in NJ, MI or PA?
In order to abide by official state gaming regulations PokerStars must guarantee players accessing its real-money games are within state borders. To do so, players on PokerStars must download a geolocation app along with the PokerStars software or PokerStars App.
Can PokerStars US players play against international PokerStars players?
No, PokerStars US only includes players within the US as of 2019. There is a current compact that allows for a shared player pool between online poker players in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware but PokerStars does not have a site in Nevada or Delaware.
PokerStars PA and MI players are also ring-fenced and only able to play against each other. There is a likelihood, though, that all state player pools will eventually be merged among similarly licensed online poker states.
One day there is hope the full international player pool (or a portion of it) will be available again to US players.
What caused the delay of PokerStars in New Jersey?
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement had concerns about the past legal issues of PokerStars involving the US Department of Justice. The original PokerStars founder had not yet settled with the US Government at the time of the sale to Amaya Gaming.
The sale of PokerStars satisfied any issues New Jersey regulators had with the company.
Are SNG tournaments available ?
Yes. PokerStars has SNGs. Michigan and New Jersey (but not Pennsylvania) have Spin and Go’s as well.
Why does PokerStars have a casino partner in each state?
New Jersey interactive gaming law requires software providers to partner with Atlantic City casinos through their existing license. Casinos can host up to five gaming sites on a brick-and-mortar license.
Likewise, Pennsylvania and Michigan require online poker sites to have a land-based partner.
Which Atlantic City casino is PokerStars’ partner?
PokerStars is partners with Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Which Pennsylvania casino is PokerStars’ partner?
PokerStars is partners with Mount Airy Casino in Pennsylvania.
Which Michigan casino is PokerStars’ partner?
PokerStars is partners with Odawa Casino Resort in Petoskey.
Does PokerStars offer casino games?
Yes, PokerStars offers casino games via Stars Casino. You can also sports bet with its sister set, FoxBet.
How big are the Sunday PokerStars tournaments in New Jersey?
Due to the market’s low-population cap, the tournament prize pools on PokerStars New Jersey are not nearly as large as they on the operator’s international site.
At present, the biggest Sunday major is the Sunday Special, which guarantees $50,000. Following that is the Sunday High Roller ($500 buy-in, $15,000 GTD).
There is also a bevy of nightly and weekly tournaments that guarantee a minimum prize pool of $10,000.
PokerStars US Review
PokerStars Quick Review
The PokerStars client is nothing short of stellar, matching the quality of its award-winning international platform nearly every step of the way. PokerStars also offers two generous, first-time deposit bonus; one tailored toward recreational players and another to regulars. Biannual tournament events that guarantee over $1.2 million each and an eclectic mix of game formats round out New Jersey's most complete online poker package. Now if only customer service were more accessible.
PokerStars is the world’s largest online poker site. It peaks in the neighborhood of 20,000 players daily, according to PokerScout.
In addition to its international poker site, it also holds licenses in the ring-fenced markets of Italy, France and Spain. It is the largest site in two of these three regulated and ring-fenced countries.
PokerStars was not always the largest online poker room in the world. PartyPoker held that distinction until October 2006, when it left the US market. PartyPoker has the most cash-game players, but PokerStars had more tournament participants.
As a result, PokerStars immediately became the largest cash-game site when it announced it would stay in the US market after 2006. It raked an estimated $2 million per day after this decision.
PokerStars’ legal woes
Because of this success, the US Department of Justice took notice. PokerStars became the target of an investigation from the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.
On April 15, 2011, an indictment was unsealed that named PokerStars and two executives. The charges related to violating the Illegal Gambling Business Act and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Furthermore, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker were also named on the same indictment.
PokerStars immediately withdrew from the US market, as did Full Tilt and Absolute Poker. Most noteworthy is that PokerStars was able to reimburse account balances for US players within 10 days. Full Tilt and Absolute Poker were unable to pay.
Subsequently, PokerStars acquired Full Tilt through a corporate settlement with the US Justice Department worth $731 million. Part of this settlement went toward paying Full Tilt Poker players that were victims of what the federal government described as fraud.
Once these charges were settled, PokerStars attempted to gain licensing in New Jersey for the state’s new interactive gaming industry that launched in November 2013. They partnered with Resorts.
PokerStars previously attempted to buy the Atlantic Club. They infused the ailing casino with much-needed cash while it attempted to get licensed. Atlantic Club backed out of the deal after the guaranteed closing date passed.
It appeared Atlantic Club was hoping to fetch a higher sales price. That never materialized. Atlantic Club fell into bankruptcy and closed in January 2014. Subsequently, its assets were divided between Caesars Entertainment and Tropicana Entertainment through a bankruptcy auction.
While PokerStars resolved its case through a civil settlement, executives of PokerStars never resolved their charges. This was the reason cited by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement for suspending its gaming license application for two years.
PokerStars’ new owner and eventual entry into New Jersey
Rational Group, the parent company of PokerStars, decided the solution was to sell the company. Amaya Gaming was the suitor.
Amaya Gaming acquired PokerStars in July 2014 for $4.9 billion. As a result, PokerStars’ equity holders left the company at the close of the transaction.
It appears that this merger was the catalyst that gave PokerStars the green light in New Jersey. The Division of Gaming Enforcement is satisfied that PokerStars is now suitable.
The path was more straightforward to PokerStars to get licensed in Pennsylvania and Michigan, and it managed to be the first online poker site regulated by the state gaming control boards to launch in each state.
Amaya Gaming would either need to defeat that language in bills before they become law or prevail in court challenges under the position that the so-called bad actor clauses are unconstitutional.
Additionally, online poker regulations in Nevada include a tainted asset clause. This means that the sale of PokerStars does not clean the brand in the eyes of regulators. Unless current Nevada law changes, or is found unconstitutional, PokerStars will never operate in Nevada.
Delaware has no such language in its online poker regulations.