PokerStars is the world’s largest poker site, built on a downloadable platform for MacOS, Windows, and mobile systems. It currently accounts for over two-thirds of the world’s online poker traffic. PokerStars EU launched in 2012. It is available to players around the clock and holds a Malta Lotteries & Gaming Commission license for the European Union market.
PokerStars EU combines the player-bases of Portugal, France, and Spain to offer a European mega-site. This means more traffic, more tournaments and more prizes. Exclusive tournaments and bonus offers abound too, as well as custom football promotions and other Euro-centric features. With a regular traffic average of around 1,500 cash players every day, peaking at around 3,000-4,000 on weekends, PokerStars EU is often ranked as the world’s third-largest poker site (by traffic) in its own right.
How to sign up for PokerStars EU
Registering at PokerStars EU is very similar to opening a new account on the main PokerStars site. Spanish, Portuguese and French players are welcome. In January 2018, a PokerStars rep confirmed on a popular online forum that, “non-resident players in France or Spain will be able to play on the pool by registering on the .ES. License, with the exception of residents of a country subject to a national regulation.”
So unless your country has a specific ring-fenced poker market or other restrictive regulations – you’ll be able to sign up at PokerStars EU and start enjoying table games with no hassle. Registration takes minutes and is a simple process. However, you’ll be required to submit identification before making any withdrawals – so make sure any information you provide is accurate and truthful.
There are many bonuses and promotions available at any one time at PokerStars EU. The best place to keep up to date is on their promotions page, as offers and bonuses can change regularly.
Players can also grab a €15 welcome bonus, which is split into €10 cash and five €1 Spin & Go tournament entry tickets. Spin & Go tournaments are fast, three-player tournaments with low buy-ins (as little €0.25) and randomized prize pools. In other words, the opportunity is there to win big for little investment.
Unfortunately, you can only choose one of the bonus offers when you sign up. So make sure you have a good browse through and select the right one for your play style.
Since PokerStars Spain, France, and Portugal merged in early 2018, PokerStars EU has consistently been the biggest poker site for European players by traffic. It beats out its main competitor, Winamax.fr, by an average of 1,000 or so cash players per day at peak hours.
This creates a great European community, where you are almost guaranteed to find a space at a tournament table, or something more casual. With around 20,000 players online at any one time, and nearly 3,000 in real cash games at peak times, you won’t find it difficult to discover a table you like.
Because France has extremely compartmentalized online gaming laws, even the types of poker available at online sites to French players is regulated. As a result, only the following variants of the game are available for real cash play on PokerStars EU:
No-Limit Texas Hold’em
This is the world’s most popular variety of poker. It accounts for over half of PokerStars EU’s real-money play selection. Buy-ins start at €0.80 and max out around €500.
Fixed-Limit Texas Hold’em
You’ll find a lot fewer people playing this limited-stake version of Texas Hold ‘em. We found there were about half as many tables available as for the no-limit version. A fair few of them were empty too. Buy-ins started at €0.40 and went as high as €200.
Pot-Limit Omaha Poker
Pot-Limit Omaha poker was more popular than fixed-limit hold ‘em when we looked, but still not as busy as the No-Limit tables. Buy-ins ranged from €1 to €1,000.
Because of French law, all other popular variants from the main PokerStars website are excluded from real money play at PokerStars EU. This includes all varieties of Stud poker and mixed games like HORSE. European players can still enjoy these games, but without the excitement of real cash on the line.
The rake on PokerStars EU games is on a sliding scale that maxes out at €3. The site also operates a ‘no flop, no drop’ policy. So if the hand ends before the flop, or the second round of betting, then PokerStars.EU takes no rake.
PokerStars EU also hosts a variety of tournaments, including Spin & Go Max. These tournaments feature randomly determined player numbers, prizes and buy-ins. Then, only a set number of hands are played before players have to go all in. These can offer first-place prizes as high as €250,000 on eight-player €25 buy-in tournaments or as low €2 for a three-player €1 buy-in.
There are also Sit & Go tournaments available that run daily. These start as soon as the table fills up. These are almost all No-Limit Hold ‘Em tournaments, with a few tables for Pot-Limit Omaha players. Buy-ins cover the standard ranges of €0.5 up to €10 and sometimes €25.
PokerStars EU’s main rewards program is called StarRewards. It is actually a very generous system. Players receive 100 reward points for every €1 wagered in tournament fees or taken via rake. Table rakes at PokerStars EU never exceed €3. In fact, they are often substantially lower.
Points accumulated by players go towards ranking up their progress bar. A prize chest is unlocked at each level. There is no limit to how many chests a player can unlock in one day. Plus, if you reach four in a single 24-hour period, you’ll be upgraded to the next level of chest. There are six levels, from red to platinum. Each level requires more points to reach and each subsequent Chest includes bigger prizes.
Chests can contain personalized prizes, as the system tracks your gameplay patterns. For example, if you played a lot of Seven-Card Stud for free, you’ll receive different rewards from someone who played a lot of real cash Hold ‘em tournaments.
But in general, the rewards available in Chests include:
- Cash bonuses
- Tournament tickets
- Extra reward points
- Reward points boosts
Cash bonuses run from as small as €0.07, to as large as €1,000 – which has a one percent chance of occurring in platinum Chests. StarsCoins can be used to purchase items in the poker room’s shop, including tickets to glitzy Las Vegas poker events, PokerStars merchandise, and more. They can also be exchanged for cash at a rate of €0.01 to every coin, although the minimum is €25.
Many online poker rooms will offer you rewards based solely upon the amounts taken through the rake and fees you pay, so it’s nice to see one of the bigger players take a different approach. The scaling difficulty of obtaining each level of chest also makes it a more even playing field and allows even the most casual of players opportunities to get rewards.
There’s a good range of deposit options available at PokerStars EU, nine in total. These are:
- Local bank transfer
- PaySafe Card
- Ticket Premium
This should be comprehensive enough for most players, with a range of popular e-wallets, bank cards and top up card options on offer.
After your first successful deposit, VISA, MasterCard, Neteller, and EntroPay users will be able to use the new ‘fast deposit’ option. This means you can deposit directly from the table, without having to leave and navigate to the lobby. You can even pre-enter a suggested deposit amount, meaning you won’t have to use your keyboard when making a fast deposit. It’s two-click simplicity at its best.
There is only one withdrawal method available at PokerStars EU, which was a bit disappointing. This solitary method is direct bank transfer. These transfers take 3-5 days to arrive in your account. Compared with all the instant banking methods on offer here and at other poker rooms, a 3-5 day wait (after processing) doesn’t really cut it.
PokerStars EU offers an expansive FAQ section, which should be any user’s first port of call when encountering a problem. It is one of the better FAQ sections you’ll find at an online poker room. Plus, it is easy to navigate with helpful answers that include tables and other data.
Most problems or questions you might have should be solvable using the FAQ. If not, the contact support form can be accessed in your web browser or directly from the PokerStars EU desktop app.
Not having a direct e-mail readily available, or any kind of live chat option certainly lets PokerStars EU down a little. Their video guides and tips for new players are also worth a shout out and should help many a fish on the road to becoming a shark in due course.