www.PokerStars.com Review & Bonuses

PokerStars is the 800 lb gorilla of poker sites. Once Party Poker left the US market in 2006, PokerStars established themselves as the site to beat. They have the most players, host more tournaments, have the largest guaranteed tournaments and the largest selection of games. No other site can come close.

And, seemingly, nothing can slow PokerStars down. Not a Black Friday indictment, millions of dollars in penalties to the US government or having to leave the US market altogether. If anything, it shows how solid and stable a site they are. It's because of this that I expect PokerStars to be around for years to come, especially since they're making progress in their attempt to breach a legal US market.

PokerStars Traffic

At any given time you can expect PokerStars to have 50-75,000 players on their site, spread throughout their cash games, tournaments, sit and goes and free money games. During peak hours you can expect traffic to be between 100-150,000 players, and on the weekends between 150,000 and 225,000.

Before Black Friday the traffic levels were considerably higher. On Sundays, during heavy tournament schedule, it was not uncommon to see more than 300,000 players all logged into PokerStars at once.

Despite not allowing US players to play on their site anymore, PokerStars still continues to crush the competition in terms of traffic. To put this into perspective, the closest non-PokerStars site has 20,000 players. Most sites have fewer than 10,000 players, though.

PokerStars Software

PokerStars has their own software; it's now outsourced or provided to them by a 3rd party network like most sites. They're constantly tweaking it, too, always trying to make it better, faster and more secure. Based on my experience you’re asked to update the software once every 2-4 weeks.

In addition to speed and security, you'll find that PokerStars has a number of features, some of which you won't find elsewhere. Here is a short overview of their software features:

  • Extensive game filter
  • Zoom Poker
  • Home Games
  • More than 10 table themes
  • Ability to change felt color, background color, decks and chips
  • 4-Color deck
  • Hand history replayer
  • Detailed note taking system

Some of these options, like the table themes or hand history replayer, are available at other sites. But trust me when I say that PokerStars is better. These features either work better, has more details/options or just looks betters.

Banking Options

PokerStars has many banking options. They have options readily available to all international players, as well as deposit and withdrawal options available on a country-by-country basis. Here are some of the most common banking options available at PokerStars:

  • Visa/MasterCard
  • EntroPay
  • Neteller
  • PayPal
  • Skrill (Moneybookers)
  • Ukash
  • Paysafecard
  • Bank Transfer
  • Check
  • Wire Transfer
  • Instadebit
  • Instant e-Checks
  • WebMoney

Many of these options are available for both deposits and withdrawals. Players can also transfer funds between their PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker account. Banking is free at PokerStars, however, whether or not you ultimately pay fees depends on who you use for your banking (your bank, e-wallet, etc).

Customer Service

PokerStars has an extensive FAQ section. I would start here if you have a question. After helping what’s likely to be thousands of players over the course of 10+ years, I’m sure their FAQ section is very thorough. However, if you need to get in touch with someone at PokerStars you can do so at: support@pokerstars.com. For help making a deposit, you can send an email to dad@pokerstars.com.


The software can be downloaded to your computer if you’re running Windows or a Mac. PokerStars also has mobile apps for Android and Apple phones and tablets. However, keep in mind that, according to their FAQs, only play (fake) money is available.

PokerStars Marketing Code (Bonus)

As of 7/2013, PokerStars is running two offers for first time depositors.

The first one is a $20 free. This requires no deposit on your part. Just enter “FREE20” when you make your deposit and the money will be deposited into your account. This is the first time I’ve ever seen PokerStars offer a no deposit bonus, and I think it's pretty neat.

Their second offer is a 100% match up to $600. This bonus appears to be standard, if not lackluster given how big and successful a site they are. However, there is something unique about this offer.

What’s different about it is that you’re able to deposit up to 3 times within 60 days. They allow you to do this so that you can take advantage of as much of the deposit bonus as possible. Remember -- most sites only give you one chance (on your first deposit). It doesn’t matter how  you do your 3 deposits either; you can deposit 200/200/200, 150/200/250, 300/300 or the entire thing up front. It's up to you.

To clear the bonus you’ll need to play real money games and earn points. For every 200 VPPs you earn you’ll receive $10 of your bonus. (This comes out to 27% rakeback.) VPPs are earned at the rate of 5.5 VPPs for every $1 paid in tournament fees. For cash games it depends on how much you contribute to the pot and how many players are involved. But several points can be earned per hand.

You’ll have 4 months from the date of each deposit to clear your bonus. That means this offer will last as long as 6 months or so, depending on how long it takes you to make all of your deposits and clear your bonus money.