PokerStars is the biggest name in online poker, so it was only expected that they would eventually break into the $120 million dollar Indian market. In April 2018, this became a reality. With thousands of Indian players already playing at PokerStars’ international sites – it surely won’t be long before PokerStars India becomes the top dog on the Indian poker scene. Only launched a few short months ago, it’s already catching up to its nearest rivals Khelo365 and Adda52.
How to Sign Up for PokerStars.IN
As with all PokerStars sites in general, signing up to PokerStars India was quick and simple. The only details required were an e-mail address and your name. It should be noted that players from Assam, Nagaland, Odisha, Sikkim, Telangana, and Gujarat are not allowed here. It is worth noting we did not encounter any checks during the sign-up process. However, they will ask to verify your identification documents before they allow you to withdraw any winnings, so make sure to prepare a scan of a government-issued ID and a utility bill when the time comes.
Bonuses on PokerStars.IN
PokerStars IN offers two welcome bonus options.
The first is one of the more generous on the PokerStars network, offering 100 percent up to RS. 30,000 (~$450) which you can claim over your first three deposits. However, the bonus is locked until you collect enough reward points to release it. The bonus releases at a rate of RS. 150 for every 450 reward points. Since one reward point is earned for every RS. 1 spent on rake or tournament fees, this amounts to a 33 percent cashback reward.
Players have four months to claim the entire bonus amount relative to their deposit, but can extend this time period by making another deposit up to the RS. 30,000 limit.
The second welcome bonus choice amounts to RS. 480 ($7.20) and RS. 1020 in Sit & Go tournament entry tickets. This bonus is split over six days. However, it is only available for first-time depositors of RS. 500 or more and requires the bonus code: FREE1500. Also thrown in with this bonus are five tickets for the ‘Depositor Freeroll’ tournaments, which are held daily at 8 p.m. IST and have a guaranteed prize pool of RS. 10,000.
According to the player count in the top right corner of the PokerStars IN downloadable client, there were just over 8,000 players online at peak times on a weekday. Unfortunately, it seemed the majority of players, easily over three-quarters of them, were playing for play money only.
With a seven-day average of just 70 players in real-cash games at any one time, and a 24-hour peak of 130, it seems PokerStars IN is having a bit of trouble attracting real-money players at the present time. However, it has only been active for a few months and these numbers have been steadily growing.
Games on PokerStars.IN
When it comes to cash games, only No-Limit Hold ‘em and Pot-Limit Omaha are available for play at PokerStars IN. NL Hold ‘em was by far the more popular variant, as expected, with at least 60 percent of cash gamers playing at these tables.
The PokerStars software itself is one of the global brand’s strongest points. The Indian platform is no exception. Games run smoothly and quickly, even on budget desktops or laptops. You can tell that the user experience has been refined over many years on the market. Their mobile apps, for iOS and Android, are also top tier and deliver quality graphics with a responsive small-screen interface that makes playing on the go a breeze.
No-Limit Texas Hold’em
The world’s most-played poker variant is also the most popular for Indian players, accounting for most of the action at PokerStars IN. Buy-ins start at RS. 80 and go as high as RS. 100,000. Most of the tournaments are also run in this format.
Fixed-Limit Texas Hold’em
There were no real-money tables for Fixed-Limit Hold ‘Em at PokerStars IN and no play-money tables either.
Pot-Limit Omaha poker
There were about 10 Pot-Limit Omaha poker tables available at PokerStars IN when we checked, with about 20 players between them. Compared to the 100 or so NL Hold‘Em players at any one time, this is disappointing. However, at least it’s playable for real money. Buy-ins range from RS. 80 to RS. 1,500 with 1,000 -1250 being the most popular choice when we looked.
Other poker variants
As far as we could see, there were no other poker variants available in the PokerStars IN client. Multi-variant games such as HORSE were conspicuously absent, as were stud poker variants.
There is a large array of tournaments available every day at PokerStars India. At least 90 percent of these are NL Hold‘Em tournaments, with a few Pot-limit Omaha tables thrown in.
Aside from the daily tournaments, there are weekly competitions such as the Thursday Thrill or the Sunday Special that offer prize funds up to RS. 3,50,000 or more.
With buy-ins from as little as RS. 30 to RS. 5,000, whether you’re a high-rolling shark or a little fish – there’s a tournament suitable for you.
There are also Spin & Go tournaments on offer every day. With buy-ins ranging from RS. 10 to RS. 500, and a randomized prize pool between 2x and 10,000x the buy-in, these super-fast three-player tournaments launch as soon as enough people have sat at the table. Incredibly easy to enter – and if you’re lucky (and have some skill) they could win you big money.
PokerStars IN’s reward program is almost identical to the system used by the rest of the PokerStars network. Players unlock reward points to progress up levels, and receive a prize Chest to open each time they advance. Unlock four chests in a day and all your future Chests over the next month are upgraded to the next tier. These tiers are:
Each chest can contain a cash bonus, ranging from RS. 1,000 at the Red level, all the way up to RS 25,000 at the Platinum level. Also included in the Chests are varying amounts of StarsCoin, which can be traded for Rupees at an exchange rate of 1:1 – or they can be used to buy PokerStars merchandise in the reward store.
Lastly, the Chests can contain extra reward points, a multiplier boost for the next X amount of reward points you earn, or tournament tickets.
There are only three deposit methods available at PokerStars IN. These are:
This isn’t a great range compared to some of the PokerStars network sites, a few of which have 12+ banking methods on offer. The lack of any e-wallets is very disappointing. Apparently, CashFree does offer payment through PayPal, but we have not directly tested this feature.
MasterCard or VISA payments from India should be fast and secure enough for most customers, however. Lastly, many PokerStars network sites provide a Fast Deposit feature – not so here. Hopefully, this is something PokerStars IN will look to add in the future, as well as more payment options outside of CashFree.
All three deposit options are also available for withdrawals, plus direct bank transfers. We recommend using an e-wallet through CashFree, if possible. Direct bank transfers should be kept as your last option since this is the slowest method. Funds may take up to 10 days to arrive in your account after processing. You will need to submit identification before any withdrawals can be made. If you want to withdraw to your card or using CashFree, you must have used this same method to deposit here at least once in the last six months.
As with most PokerStars network sites, the FAQ section is great. It is comprehensive, straightforward, and easy to search through. What isn’t so good, however, is the lack of live chat or phone support. The only way to contact PokerStars support at the moment is through the support portal on their website – they don’t even provide an e-mail address. This is not up to par, and something the entire PokerStars network should look at improving.
PokerStars India suffers from many of the same problems facing the rest of the PokerStars network. It also has a few problems of its own, such a small banking selection and a relatively small real-money player-base.
However, it is PokerStars – which is a reason in itself not to count them out. This site has only been operating for a few months, and a brand with their international clout will surely succeed at pulling in players in the long run. It also uses the usual PokerStars software, which is as smooth and user-friendly as you’re likely to get at any online poker room. Certainly, a site to look out for in the growing Indian online poker market.