Poker lovers around the world love PokerStars. The world’s most popular poker room has the best software, biggest tournament guarantees and a legendary customer service operation. Since 2016, US poker players have had a legal state regulated version of PokerStars in New Jersey.
It is the go-to site globally. Anyone playing online poker should have an account on Stars, as it is popularly known.
In New Jersey Stars has a partnership with the Resorts Casino Hotel where there is a PokerStars sponsored poker room. The casino partnership extends to live PokerStars sponsored events and occasional promotions where online play results in prizes at the casino.
Stars lost its top billing after the state entered into a compact with Nevada and Delaware to share poker player liquidity. Stars doesn’t operate in either of those states, but the WSOP/888 poker room does. What this means is that WSOP/888 NJ players play in a poker room shared with two other states. Add all the player traffic together and that pushes Stars into second place.
However, PokerStars now offers state regulated legal online poker in Pennsylvania through the PokerStars PA website, in connection with Mount Airy Casino and Resort. It is only a matter of time before Pennsylvania signs up to the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) alongside New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware.
Pennsylvania’s population of almost 13 million makes it the biggest legal online poker market in the USA. When PokerStars players in Pennsylvania can play in the same pool as players from New Jersey, the tables will turn and Stars should regain its top dog position.
How to sign-up for PokerStars PA and NJ
Getting into the action at PokerStars is simple. Follow this link to go straight to the software download page. You can download software for desktop or mobile including both iPhone / iPad and Android devices.
You can do this from anywhere, but you won’t be able to play unless you are within the state borders of New Jersey or Pennsylvania. Old PokerStars accounts and PokerStars accounts from anywhere else won’t work. Under the state gambling laws you must create a new account, especially for New Jersey.
When you download and install the software, you are also installing mandatory geo-location software. This is the same that Stars uses for its PokerStars Pennsylvania poker site and is standard across most providers. The geo-location software normally needs to use your wi-fi connection to locate you accurately.
The sign-up page demands your basic personal details so that your age and identity can be verified. This is essential to prevent under-age gambling.
As soon as that’s completed, you are ready to go!
PokerStars sign-up bonuses
The PokerStars PA and NJ bonuses may, at first glance, appear very similar to what’s offered by the international version of the poker room. However, in reality, the promotions on the US site yield significantly more value.
$30 free play
This bonus is available to first-time depositors who deposit $20 or more. In order to access the promo, use the code FREE30. It consists of three chunks:
- $10 in cash, credited to a player’s account within 36 hours of depositing.
- Five Spin-and-Go tickets, awarded as follows:
Three $1 tickets credited on the first day following the deposit
One $2 ticket credited on the second day
One $5 ticket credited on the third day
- $10 in cash, credited to a player’s account seven days after their first deposit.
In addition, players receive a free ticket to an exclusive Depositor Freeroll, which runs on the last Sunday of every month. All things considered, this promotion gives you plenty of bang for your buck if you’re more of a budget player. However, if you’re planning to deposit $30 or more, you should definitely choose the 100 percent matched deposit bonus, described below, instead.
100% matched deposit bonus, up to $600
This bonus will match your payment 1:1. In order to claim its full value, you can make three qualifying deposits over 60 days. For example, if you deposit $100 on your first day, $200 one week later, and $300 after 58 days, you’re still going to receive $600 in total bonus cash.
The matched deposit bonus releases in $10 chunks. Each chunk is credited to your account as soon as you earn 140 redemption points. Points accrue at the rate of 5 per $1 paid in rake or fees. This essentially amounts to a 35% rakeback deal.
Until PokerStars changed its rewards program globally, the New Jersey deal was more generous offering an equivalent of 55% in rakeback. Even after the reduction, 35% is extremely competitive.
PokerStars NJ traffic overview
Operating a poker room restricted to just one state is limiting. Even though New Jersey residents have a high income compared with other states, a population of around 9 million doesn’t create massive tournament fields. And cash game traffic is also light.
PokerStars has Rolls-Royce software in a VW Rabbit market. Nevertheless, at peak playing times there is a good selection of tables at the more popular games and stakes. The less popular cash games almost never run. So, if you want to play Badugi, or 2-7 Triple-Draw, the best way is to organize a game with some friends and get the table going online.
Tournament traffic is good when there are signature events such as the Sunday Majors running and when PokerStars puts on its top tournament series.
With a potential market almost 50% higher than New Jersey, PokerStars Pennsylvania tournaments should soon be offering much higher guarantees. Keep any jealousy for the short term. In a year or so, the Pennsylvania online poker player pool should merge with New Jersey. At that point tournament guarantees should reach the level of providing life-changing cash prizes.
Cash game traffic is heavily influenced by seasonal factors. When the hot Summer weather arrives people don’t opt to sit inside in front of a computer. As soon as Fall begins, traffic begins to pick up after the Summer low and by January reaches its annual peak.
The cycle is reflected in cash game traffic during the week and the day. It’s easier to get a table on Friday nights and at the weekend than it is on Monday night. Peak playing hours are between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern Time.
The seven day moving traffic average at PokerStars New Jersey is around 75. This will grow to around a 100 towards the end of the year. At peak times expect around 200 cash game players to be seated at the tables.
To put this in context, consider that the total number of people playing cash games on all New Jersey poker networks during peak traffic hours usually falls in the 600-700 range.
Sharing player pool liquidity with PokerStars Pennsylvania should increase these figures by around 150 percent. When peak numbers hit 500 players at cash games the user experience is generally much better.
More seats are available at more stakes and more varieties of poker are on offer.
As you’d expect from a small network existing in a fenced-in market, the competition is very soft.
PokerStars is famous for making millionaires. Unfortunately PokerStars NJ is too small to make this a realistic prospect for many. Five and six figure prize pools are common and for most of us make for a very attractive reward.
Mid-week tournaments rarely start with more than 30 enrolled players. Weekend events attract several hundred depending on the stakes.
It is rare to see a thousand players in the same tournament. On the other hand this does make for shorter events and there’s no doubt that it’s easier to win a small field tournament than a big one.
Like PokerStars Pennsylvania, PokerStars NJ uses the PokerStars poker platform. There are a few tweaks that make it different to the global platform, but all the usual bells and whistles are there.
All the game types and variants that PokerStars has added over the years are there. Both for tournaments and cash games. The only games missing from the New Jersey and Pennsylvania versions of PokerStars are the very latest experimental games such as 6 card Hold’em.
PokerStars cash games
Hold’em players occupy most cash game tables but there are plenty of other options:
Available No-Limit Hold’em stakes range from $0.01/$0.02 to $25/$50. The site offers 9-max play, but players tend to congregate around 6-max tables instead. You’re unlikely to find any active 9-max games outside peak traffic hours.
PokerStars’ NJ NL Hold’em player pool is composed mostly of micro- and low-stakes players. Don’t expect to find any significant full-ring action beyond $1/$2. Limit Hold’em is also available. The stakes go as high as $100/$200, but on most days this variant plays almost exclusively heads-up.
Pot Limit Omaha
Generally speaking, Omaha enthusiasts tend to play on the largest networks. Therefore, it is not surprising that there is some Omaha action at PokerStars NJ. Just like in the case of No-Limit Hold’em, the stakes range from $0.01/$0.02 to $25/$50.
However, unlike with NLHE, Omaha action isn’t so focused on the micros – in fact, players tend to congregate around the $0.50/$1 and $0.25/$0.50 tables on most days.
The client supports other Omaha variants, but finding someone to play against seems borderline impossible these days.
Seven Card Stud
Until the surge in popularity of Texas Hold’em, Seven Card Stud was the most popular poker game. You can still find plenty of options at the Seven Card Stud tables at PokerStars, available in a wide range of limits. Players should not expect much beyond very sporadic heads-up play, with supported stakes ranging from $0.50/$1 to $40/$80.
Other cash game poker variants
- Omaha Hi/Lo–Omaha Hi/Lo, or Omaha Eight (played with an ‘eight or better’ qualifier for low), is offered in limit, pot limit and no limit action.
- 5 Card Omaha and 5 Card Omaha Hi/Lo–5 Card Omaha and 5 Card Omaha Hi/Lo are similar in some ways to regular Omaha games, but with a fifth hole card dealt to each player pre-flop. 5 Card Omaha games are available at Pot Limit and No Limit tables, while Hi/Lo games can be played at Limit, Pot Limit and No Limit tables.
- Courchevel and Courchevel Hi/Lo–Courchevel is exciting form of 5 Card Omaha, where the first flop card is dealt face up at the beginning of the hand. Courchevel Hi/Lo is a popular split pot form of Omaha poker, where each player is dealt five cards pre-flop. You can play Courchevel and Courchevel Hi/Lo at Limit, Pot Limit and No Limit tables on PokerStars New Jersey.
- Seven Card Stud Hi Lo–The split pot version of Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo. Available in limit only.
- Razz (7 Card Stud Low)—Razz is Stud played backwards where the worst hand is best. This version of seven-card lowball allows you to shoot for the absolute worst five-card hand and still win.
- HORSE & 8-Game Mix (Mixed games)–HORSE (Hold’em, Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Eight-or- Better) is the acme of all round poker excellence. If you get bored playing one game all the time, try out HORSE to round out your skills. PokerStars also offers 8-Game Mix, which is the same rotation as HORSE, but also includes rounds of No Limit Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha and 2-7 Triple Draw.
- Five Card Draw–Five Card Draw is the game most people recognize from the films.
- 2-7 Triple Draw & 2-7 Single Draw–Deuce to Seven Triple Draw and Deuce to Seven Single Draw are lowball games that force you to make the worst possible low hand. 2-7 games have different rules for reading the hands, so don’t enter these games without reading up on the rules first!
- Badugi–Badugi is a form of draw poker, where the object of the game is to make the best low hand of different suits, from the four cards you are dealt. Badugi has some interesting different rules from other poker games, so again you should check the rules before playing!
Sit & Go tournaments
Sit & Go tournaments begin as soon as a pre-determined number of players have sat down. They are most popular as a single table game, although two, three or more table versions are also popular.
Sit & Go tournaments are available for No-Limit Hold’em, Pot-Limit Omaha, and Pot-Limit Omaha Hi/Lo. All variants are available in 6-max and heads-up formats. Buy-ins range from $0.25 to $500, but even low buy-in tournaments take some time to launch outside of peak-traffic hours.
Spin & Go tournaments
Spin & Go tournaments transformed poker globally. They revitalized the game giving it faster action and a bigger element of chance.
These tournaments are a special form of three-handed Single Table Tournament (STT) format with randomized prize pools, which can range from two buy-ins to 1,000 buy-ins.
They all start with the spin of a wheel which determines what the prize pool will be. Keep in mind that the odds of scoring the highest prize pool are slim. In most cases you’re going to receive the lowest potential payouts either 2 or times the buy-in.
Ticket prices range from $1 to $25, but keep an eye out for special promotions which award special prizes.
Spin & Go tournaments are more popular than standard Sit & Gos and well worth trying out.
Spin & Go tournaments were not available in the poker client when PokerStars first launched in New Jersey. Poker players in Pennsylvania are getting the same treatment. PokerStars Pennsylvania Spin & Gos are not available yet, but will launch shortly.
PokerStars multi-table tournaments
NL Hold’em Multi Table Tournaments (MTT) run every day and kick off every few minutes. Buy-ins range from $1 to $500.
PokerStars is an expert at estimating how high to set its guarantees and it is not normal for the guarantee not to be met. Some sites deliberately set the guarantee expecting an overlay. This is more of a marketing expense than marketing promotion. PokerStars uses its guarantees to attract entries and it rarely fails to meet its target.
This strategy actually works well for recreational players. When you see a guarantee at a PokerStars tournament, you can be pretty sure that the field size will be within a few percent of the size necessary to hit the guarantee.
Just like the PokerStars.com site, the tournament schedule is dominated by regular events that hit the sweet spot at peak times. The same events with the same names are also available on the PokerStars PA tournament schedule. It is clear that PokerStars is trying to keep things roughly the same in both states so that it will be easily to merge the player pools when the opportunity arises.
Most popular of these regular tournaments are the Daily Bigs:
The Daily Bigs
Plenty of options, low buy-ins, high guarantees. Here’s what you can expect:
- The Big $5 (16:00 ET) – $5 buy-in, $500 guaranteed
- The Big $30 (17:00 ET) – $30 buy-in, $1,000 guaranteed
- The Big $50 (18:00 ET) – $50 buy-in, $2,000 guaranteed
- The Big $10 (18:00 ET) – $10 buy-in, $1,000 guaranteed
- The Big $20 (19:00 ET) – $20 buy-in, $1,500 guaranteed
Other recurring daily tournaments include:
- The Hot Turbos
The Hot $10 (20:00 ET)–$10 buy-in, $1,000 guaranteed
The Hot $5 (21:00 ET)–$5 buy-in, $500 guaranteed
The Hot $50 (22:00 ET)–$50 buy-in, $2,000 guaranteed
The Hot $30 (23:00 ET)–$30 buy-in, $1,500 guaranteed
- KO Fever
These Super Knockout or Progressive Super Knockout tournaments place a cash bounty placed on all players in the tournament. Every time you eliminate a player you win cash. You can see exactly how many knockouts you have made in the info tab in the chat box at your table.
In Progressive Knockout tourneys, whenever you knock out a player not only will you claim a cash bounty, but the bounty on your own head will also increase!
These events come with 10,000 starting chips, blind levels of 5-10 minutes and 6- or 9-max tables.
- Nightly Stars
A regular nightly offering with a great $10,000 guarantee! Players start with 10,000 chips, blind levels are 12 minutes and tables are 9-max.
- Moonlight Express for No-Limit Hold’em
This $20 buy-in event has a hyper-turbo structure with blind levels of just 3 minutes.
- Change-Up for Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo, and Stud
There are three nightly Change-Up vents, one for each discipline. The Sunday Change-Up comes with a $100 buy-in and a guarantee of up to $5,000.
The Sunday Majors usually see the largest fields for their stake levels. They also offer the best prize guarantees and the best chances for winning a serious amount of cash.
PokerStars Pennsylvania Sunday Majors are the same as the New Jersey events but the guarantees are different.
- Sunday Warm-Up (16:00 ET) – $50 buy-in, $8,500 guaranteed
- Sunday Storm (17:00 ET) – $10 buy-in, $4,500 guaranteed
- Sunday Special (18:00 ET) – $200 buy-in, $45,000 guaranteed
- Sunday High Roller (19:00 ET) – $500 buy-in, $15,000 guaranteed
- Sunday Supersonic (22:00 ET) – $75 buy-in, $5,000 guaranteed
PokerStars Zoom poker
Zoom poker is what is known as a fast-fold game. Instead of joining a table, players join a pool. Each player is allocated to a table and as soon as the hand ends, each player is moved to another table. If a player folds immediately, or at any stage during the hand, they are instantly moved to a new table.
This means that players get to play a lot more hands than normal for a given time. Learning to adjust to Zoom takes a little time, because every hand is played against different players.
The game has not caught on in New Jersey quite as much as in the rest of the world. This is probably due to the smaller market. Yet another area that should benefit from merging player pools with PokerStars in Pennsylvania.
Rake and tournament fees at PokerStars
Poker sites like PokerStars make their money by charging a commission on play. The commission is commonly known as rake or tournament fees.
In cash games the rake is a percentage of the final pot. No rake is charged if the hand folds to the blinds. In tournaments, a proportion of the buy-in is retained by he operator and does not go into the prize pool.
Tournament fees tend to be lower as stakes increase. At the lowest buy-ins, 10% is typical reducing to as low as 5% for the really big money tournaments.
PokerStars operates a pure percentage rake system where halves are rounded up. The rake for cash games is:
No Limit Games
|Stakes||% Rake||2 Player Cap||3-4 Player Cap||5+ Player Cap|
|$2/$5 to $5/$10||5.00%||$1.00||$2.00||$3.00|
|Stakes||2 Player||3-4 Player||5+ Player|
|% / Cap||% / Cap||% / Cap|
|$0.02/$0.04||5.00% / $0.02||5.00% / $0.02||5.00% / $0.02|
|$0.04/$0.08||5.00% / $0.04||5.00% / $0.04||5.00% / $0.04|
|$0.10/$0.20||5.00% / $0.10||5.00% / $0.10||5.00% / $0.10|
|$0.20/$0.40||5.00% / $0.16||5.00% / $0.16||5.00% / $0.16|
|$0.50/$1.00||5.00% / $0.40||5.00% / $0.40||5.00% / $0.40|
|$1/$2||2.5% / $0.50||3.5% / $0.70||4.5% / $0.80|
|$3/$6 to $5/$10||2.5% / $0.50||3.5% / $2.00||3.5% / $3.00|
|$10/$20||2.5% / $0.50||3.0% / $2.00||3.5% / $3.00|
|$20/$40 to $100/$200||2.5% / $1.00||3.0% / $2.00||3.5% / $3.00|
PokerStars rewards program
Poker rooms offer players rewards to encourage the to play and to help retain existing customers. The last few years have seen PokerStars radically change its rewards program to direct rewards away from high volume winning players towards recreational players and players who make regular deposits.
The current rewards program offers a tailored system where luck plays a big part in what rewards each player receives.
The system is based on earning points for every dollar of rake paid in cash games or tournament fees. The amount of points you earn depends on a number of factors including recent activity, game-type and net deposits.
The system is based on earning the points necessary to open a treasure chest. There are six different levels of treasure chest:
- Level1: Blue Chest—with prizes from $0.25 to $5
- Level2: Bronze Chest—with prizes from $0.60 to $12
- Level3: Silver Chest—with prizes from $1.50 to $30
- Level4: Gold Chest—with prizes from $5 to $100
- Level5: Diamond Chest—with prizes from $12.50 to $250
- Level6: Black Chest—with prizes from $35 to $700
Reward point requirements depend on the Chest type you are playing towards, but are also personalized based on your profile.
Earning reward points
Players earn reward points for play at poker tables, but also for their wagers on sports bets or in the PokerStars casino:
- Poker–Players earn 45 reward points for every USD $1 paid in fees for scheduled tournaments, and 100 reward points for every USD $1 paid in rake in Zoom or cash games or other tournament fees. Players do not earn reward points at pot-limit and no-limit tables with blinds of $5/$10 or higher, 8-game tables with stakes of $20-$40 or higher, or other limit games with stakes of $20-$40 or higher.
- Casino–Reward points are earned at the point of wagering. There are different points awards for different casino games.
- Sports: Reward points are earned when a bet is settled. For singles bets, players earn 2 reward points for every $1 wagered. For multiple/accumulator bets, players earn 5.5 reward points for every $1 wagered. Reward points are not awarded for bets made using Free Bets. Reward points are not awarded for bets that are cashed out if the cashed out value is equal to the initial bet amount.
When you earn a reward chest, the prizes is contains are randomized. For each chest type, the chances of winning a prize at each level are:
|$0.25||$0.60||$1.50||$5||$12.50||$35||200 in 1,000|
|$0.30||$0.72||$1.80||$6||$15||$42||400 in 1,000|
|$0.35||$0.84||$2.10||$7||$17.50||$49||200 in 1,000|
|$0.50||$1.20||$3||$10||$25||$70||100 in 1,000|
|$1.50||$3.60||$9||$30||$75||$210||65 in 1,000|
|$2.50||$6||$15||$50||$125||$350||25 in 1,000|
|$5||$12||$30||$100||$250||$700||10 in 1,000|
Expiration of rewards
To encourage players to play regularly, rewards expire and can only be maintained by play at the tables:
- Chests will expire after three calendar months if unopened, and expired Chests cannot be retrieved.
- Rewards you receive within Chests can also expire – check your rewards under ‘My Stars’ for details of individual expiry dates.
- Progress Bars will reset if you do not win a Chest within a 28-day period, and you will be moved to a lower Chest level. If you are at level 2 or higher and your progress bar expires when over 50% filled, you will receive a Chest from your new, lower level upon expiry. Blue Chest level progress bars will reset after three calendar months of inactivity.
When you open a chest you will also receive StarsCoins, and sometimes a tournament ticket. StarsCoins are used at the PokerStars store to exchange for cash, tournament tickets or merchandise.
The exchange rate is:
- $25 in cash for 2,500 StarsCoin
- $100 for 10,000
- $1,000 for 100,000
PokerStars deposit/withdrawal options
PokerStars gives you access to multiple cashiering methods.
PokerStars customers have the following deposit methods at their disposal:
Instant eChecks— Your funds will be credited to your account as soon as you make your payment, but you’ll have to wait for the e-check to clear before you’ll be allowed to request a cash out. This process shouldn’t take more than seven days.
PayPal and Skrill— E-wallet solutions are fast and extremely reliable. Both Skrill and Neteller are generally considered superior to the alternatives.
Stars Transfer—Instant deposits from your online banking account. The following banks support instant transfers:
- Bank of America
- Capital One 360
- S. Bank
- Wells Fargo
PayNearMe – Print out your PaySlip and go to a 7-Eleven to deposit. Reliable, but not exactly quick.
Resorts Cage— To deposit cash directly to your Stars Account, simply visit the cashier cage within Resorts Casino and Hotel in Atlantic City. You will need to provide your Stars Account details along with the amount you wish to deposit in cash, valid government issued photographic ID such as a passport or driver’s license, and confirm the last four digits of your Social Security Number for added security. Once the transaction is complete, you will receive a confirmation email and the funds will be instantly available in your Stars Account.
PokerStars Play+ Card— PokerStars Play+ is a personalized prepaid card account. The card account is paired to your Stars Account for safe deposits and withdrawals. To sign up, visit the Cashier. Once you log in, click on “Cashier”, then on “Make a Deposit”, choose ‘PokerStars Play+ Card’, click on the ‘Deposit’ button and follow the onscreen instructions to register for your PokerStars Play+ Card.
MasterCard and Visa – Despite the fact that PokerStars NJ is a licensed poker operator, there’s a high chance that your banking institution refuses your payment. If you value your time, you should avoid this method.
All of the deposit options are available for withdrawals, except for Visa, MasterCard, and PayNearMe. However, e-Checks, Neteller, and Skrill are available exclusively to players who used the method in question to deposit within 12 months of placing the cash-out request. It’s also worth noting that withdrawal requests may require up to 48 hours for approval.
PokerStars NJ support
Support staff can be contacted exclusively via e-mail at [email protected]
PokerStars prides itself on its high levels of customer service. The online poker world is full of stories of support above and beyond the call of duty. If you don’t get the support you think you should have, be persistent. Everyone can have a bad day but PokerStars seems to have fewer of them than its competitors.
PokerStars NJ offers no phone support as of this time.
Other PokerStars promotions
PokerStars focuses on quality rather than quantity when it comes to promotions. Promotions tend to be seasonal and deliberately designed to fill gaps in its revenue stream.
Players who play when others don’t, or play games that others won’t tend to get the best deals.
On the other hand, the major tournament series that PokerStars runs each year are magnets for cash giveaways. Whether Stars is offering discounted tournament buy-ins or a redeposit bonus, they get particularly generous when it comes to their flagship tourney series.
PokerStars operates on the principle that big money prizes attract more players, so they are especially incentivized to attract large tournament fields at critical moments. All eyes are on a poker room when it offers big guarantees, so it’s important that the tournament series is seen to be and reported as a success.
Awesome software and great customer support are reasons enough to choose PokerStars. But on top of that there are Spin & Gos, not offered by many other poker rooms, and superb tournament formats.
PokerStars is particularly strong in Omaha games and the rewards scheme is so heavily biased towards recreational players that beginners get great benefits.
Overall, a very strong pick and registration is pretty much mandatory for any online poker players in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.