PokerStars went live in New Jersey in 2016 and is now set to launch in Pennsylvania sometime in early 2019.
Yes, for the first time since 2011, some American players are able to play on PokerStars… and suddenly all seems right with the world.
PokerStars is still the largest online poker room in the world; no other online poker room today offers as many cash games and as large of tournament prize pools. But since PokerStars is only offering games to New Jersey players — and Pennsylvanians soon — they won’t have the huge number of players, tournaments and games… at least yet.
But as a leader in the poker world, PokerStars is quickly gaining steam in the United States and soon could be the biggest online poker room in the United States.
In this guide, we will give you the important information you need to know about PokerStars and their gradual entry into the United States.
|Where can I play PokerStars In The US?|
|New Jersey||March 2016||poker, casino, BetStars|
|Pennsylvania||Coming soon||Coming in 2019 (poker, casino, online sports betting)|
|All other 48 states||N/A||Unknown|
What is PokerStars like this days?
If you’re like most poker players from the United States, it’s probably been a while since you paid attention to online poker or PokerStars. Perhaps now is the first time you have ever cared about online poker.
As we mentioned, PokerStars is still the most dominant online poker site. And not only by traffic and tournaments but also by innovation and influence. The online poker room has released a handful of new poker variants over the last couple of years in an effort to keep the game of poker fresh for players. Most of these games — which include games such as Power Up, Showtime and Unfold — have not stuck around for too long, but the efforts have shown that PokerStars is not afraid to try new things to improve the online poker experience.
The software at PokerStars is among the best available and customer service is still solid. Promotions are generous, payments are reliable and game selection is still of the charts. Sound familiar?
While some things about PokerStars have been unchanged over the last few years, some things have changed.
Instead of being independently owned poker site, PokerStars is now a publicly traded company that operates under The Stars Group, a company that today features a diversified portfolio. The company primarily consists of PokerStars for poker, PokerStars Casino for house-based games and BetStars for sports betting. They have also been busy making strategic acquisitions over the last few years, most recently illustrated by their $4.7 billion purchase of Skybet.
As far as the poker room goes, PokerStars has been one of the many poker rooms to put a much greater focus on the recreational poker player. This has led to changes in the previously highly acclaimed VIP program, an emphasis on a “fun” experience for players and yes, even some rake increases.
PokerStars in NJ
PokerStars made history when they entered the United States for the first time in a regulated market when they went live in New Jersey in 2016.
To enter New Jersey, The Stars Group struck a deal with Resorts Casino, a New Jersey-based brick and mortar casino that held an online gambling license in the state.
The name recognition of PokerStars quickly propelled the poker room to become of the top poker rooms in the state, coming close to WSOP.com, despite WSOP.com holding significant advantages. The brand launched in New Jersey three years prior to PokerStars and more recently, has capitalized on an interstate liquidity agreement with Delaware and Nevada.
In addition to the PokerStars poker room and casino launch, The Stars Group also took advantage of another recently legal product in the state of New Jersey – sports betting. BetStars went live in New Jersey in the fall of 2018. Since the launch, BetStars has been a huge success — along with the DraftKings Sportsbook — easily the biggest sports betting platform in the state.
PokerStars in PA
PokerStars was officially approved to offer online gambling in Pennsylvania in November 2018. Despite the approval, real money online games will not likely come to the state until sometime in early 2019.
To go live in Pennsylvania, PokerStars partnered with Mount Airy Casino, which has also been approved for online gambling in Pennsylvania. The partnership allows The Stars Group to offer online poker and an online casino that consists of slots and tables games. In addition, Mount Airy is also expected to apply for a sports betting license that would allow both brands to join forces on a retail sportsbook as well as an online sportsbook (eventually).
Due to the similar structure of their online gambling framework and the state’s proximity to each other, we ultimately expect PokerStars PA to be quite similar to that of New Jersey.
Merged player pools coming?
For those that don’t know, merged player pools essentially allow two different groups of players to play against each other. This almost always equals more games, larger tournaments and just a better online poker experience.
Let’s not get our hopes up — PokerStars US will not merge with the PokerStars.com player pool (the poker room available to dozens of countries and where PokerStars gets most of the traffic) any time soon. This means you are likely to be playing against hundreds of players versus thousands, at least for now.
The real focus at this point is merging player pools of individual states. This has already happened with WSOP.com in Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada, greatly increasing the liquidity of the poker room in those states. So far, WSOP.com has been the only poker room to take advantage of the liquidity agreement since they are the only poker room in more than two states.
That changes when PokerStars PA goes live. It is believed that merged player pools won’t happen right away in PA, but once they are given the go-ahead PokerStars NJ and PA players will be able to play against each other. Since New Jersey has a population over 9 million and Pennsylvania is at 13 million, both states will combine for a population of 22 million. If that population were in a single state, that would be the third largest state in the country. That’s a big deal because poker games are more likely to thrive in such a scenario.
But where the real optimism stems from is that the president it will set. Every time PokerStars is regulated in another state, it won’t be soon after that the poker room will join the existing US player pool. Now that is something to get excited about.
What about the rest of the United States?
So far, only four states have regulated online poker. They are Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Delaware limits their online poker games to the state lottery while Nevada has so far restricted PokerStars because they accepted US players prior to 2011.
Other states clearly don’t see this as an issue and have allowed PokerStars into their state via partnerships with existing brick and mortar casinos. Essentially, the brick and mortar casino gets the license and lets PokerStars be the software provider and is effectively run independently of the casino. This is likely a relationship that we will see in other states.
Every year, more states talk about regulating online poker and online casinos. It’s been a slow process over the last few years, but there are a handful of poker rooms that could be joining the mix in 2019. Michigan, Illinois and New York are just a few of the more populated states that have been buzzing about bringing online gambling to their states.
If that happens, PokerStars likely won’t be too far behind as casinos will likely be eager to partner with such as well know and respected name as PokerStars.
PokerStars US bonus
While we don’t know for sure what the PokerStars PA Bonus will look like, the bonus available through PokerStars NJ gives us a pretty clear guide of what it could be.
In New Jersey, PokerStars offers two different types of bonuses – a $30 Free Play bonus for designed for recreational players and a 100% up to $600 deposit bonus for more of the hardcore grinder. PokerStars NJ poker players are able to choose which bonus they wish to take advantage of.
$30 Free Play – Simply make a deposit of $20 or more to receive $30 in free play. $20 of the bonus is credited as a cash bonus and another $10 credited in Spin and Go tickets. The first $10 is credited within 36 hours with another $10 credited seven days after your first deposit. The Spin and Go tickets, which are credited in the first three days after your deposit, are awarded in three different denominations: three $1 tickets, one $2 tickets and 1 $5 ticket.
The offer is excellent for new players because it immediately gives players a larger bankroll, which can be used at the tables and tournaments.
100% up to $600 bonus – As an alternative, PokerStars will match your first deposit up to $600. After making your deposit, you will then need to earn 100 redemption points for every $10 in cash. Redemption points are earned at a rate of 5 for every $1 in rake or tournament fees. You will have four months to meet the terms of this bonus.
This bonus is ideal for players who put in a lot of hands, as it will take a fair amount of play to clear the entire bonus. The bonus is earned at a very nice rate though — the equivalent of a 50% rebate on rake — which is above average for a first deposit bonus. If you think you are going to play a lot on PokerStars — especially above the micro stakes — and are going to deposit an amount above say $50, you probably want to deposit for the 100% first deposit bonus.
In addition to the bonus, players will also receive 1 million in play money chips as well as access to a Depositor Freeroll.
PokerStars US VIP Program
The PokerStars VIP program isn’t just for high volume players anymore. Over the last couple of years, PokerStars has implemented a VIP program which balances the benefits between recreational and frequent players, but frankly favors recreational players more.
The video below summarized the new VIP program, which is now called Stars Rewards, a randomized rewards program that is tailored specifically to players.
Stars Rewards VIP program encompasses all PokerStars games including the PokerStars Casino and BetStars and is based on the earning of Reward Points, which are earned while playing real money games. As Reward Points are accumulated, you will work towards completing a progress bar to earn a rewards chest.
Hidden in the chest are prizes that range from tournament tickets, StarsCoins and cash.
Players can even receive boosts to earn Reward Points even more quickly.
Deposit and withdrawls
Now that PokerStars is regulated in NJ and PA, deposits will be guaranteed by the state. Yes, player funds are segregated from operational funds, meaning you never have to worry about losing your funds (at least outside of the gaming table).
Players can make fast deposits with a variety of methods including echecks, Neteller, Skrill, Visa and Mastercard. PayNearMe, PokerStars Instant Online Banking and a PokerStars Play Card are some of the less traditional methods. If you are in New Jersey, you can also deposit through the Resorts Casino cage.
Withdrawals also promise to be quick and easy and available through many methods.
More to come from PokerStars US
With the launch of PokerStars PA during 2019, it is setting up to be a big year for PokerStars. As more information becomes available, we will update this page in an effort to provide you with the best information we have about playing PokerStars in the United States.