PokerStars Review

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Overview

Overview

PokerStars is often cited as the site that helped cause the poker boom back in 2003 and after amateur Chris Moneymaker used the site to qualify for the WSOP Main Event. Against the odds, Moneymaker won, captured the world’s imagination and helped turn online gaming into a mainstream hit. Since then, PokerStars was purchased by Amaya for $4.9 billion and now offers a full suite of casino games and sports betting alongside poker.

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Pros & Cons

Well established brand Contribution weightings are confusing
Exclusive casino content Other casinos offer more games
Generous loyalty scheme
Solid instant, download and mobile software
Highly secure and regulated
Welcome bonus

Welcome Bonus and Special Offers

Excluding anniversary welcome bonuses and offers that crop up from time-to-time, PokerStars Casino’s first deposit deal is as follows: deposit at least $10 and you’ll get a 200% multiplier worth up to $400 (USD is PokerStars’ default currency). To unlock your bonus and any bonus winnings, you’ll need to earn points.

So, if you made a $50 deposit, you’d receive $100 in bonus cash. This bonus cash can be used to play any real money game, but the cash and any winnings will remain “theoretical” until you earn three redemption points per dollar. So, in this instance, you’d need to earn 300 redemption points before any bonus funds and winnings can be withdrawn. As long as you meet your point quota within 28 days, the cash is yours.

OK, so how do I earn redemption points? Well, depending on the game you play, the amount you have to wager will differ. We don’t have the space here to list all the different wagering limits, so we’ve picked out some of the games that give you the biggest bang for your buck:

Game 1 redemption point for every
Roulette $12 wagered
Swap the Flop $16 wagered
Hold’em Switch $14 wagered
Live Dream Catcher $9 wagered
Live Three Card Hold’em $9 wagered

When it comes to slots, it’s a similar story. There isn’t a standard contribution weighting for slots, which means you have to look at each game individually. For the purposes of our PokerStars Casino review, the average bet size we found was $6 for a single redemption point.

In general, when you compare this system to others out there, it has its pluses and minuses. In terms of what you can get as a newbie, $400 is a solid maximum bonus. However, the fact that weighting contributions aren’t standard is slightly frustrating. Indeed, if you’re a casual player, this system is not only confusing, but may cause you to take an inefficient course of action when it comes to clearing your bonus.

However, if you’re a seasoned player that doesn’t mind doing some research before you ante-up, the non-standard system can work in your favour. Indeed, by finding out which slots offer the most value, you can effectively clear your bonuses faster that you would at other sites. So, in our opinion, the real value of this welcome bonus all depends on what stage you’re at in your iGaming career.

Promotions

Promotions

PokerStars Casino has plenty of promotions that cover the full range of traditional offers. However, beyond reload bonuses, ‘free’ spins and gratis bets, the one ongoing offer that stands out is the Stars Reward program. Launched in 2016 and designed to favour casual players, the system works on a points for prizes bases.

As with the redemption points system, different games have a different weighting when it comes to what you get for the amount you bet. The best way to find out how much you need to wager on each game is to join PokerStars. For now, just know that games such as Hold’em Switch, roulette and Live Dream Catch will earn you one reward point for every $1 you bet (approximately).

Once you start collecting reward points, you’ll pick up boxes containing mystery prizes. The more bars you fill, the more points you’ll need to claim each chest. The reason for this is that each new chest will contain items of increasing values, but only if you save them up. In other words, if you open a chest, you break the chain and start from the bottom. However, if you keep earning chests and not opening them, each new one you claim will be more valuable than the last.

Naturally, this system rewards those with patience and the element of mystery is certainly exciting. However, what’s great about Stars Rewards is that anything you win isn’t subject to any wagering requirements. So, if you box contains $2 in cash, that money is yours to spend or withdraw as you wish. Moreover, as you collect stars, you’ll be able to spend them in the VIP shop and pick up free bets and cash which is also restriction free.

Software and games

Software and Games

PokerStars has long been known as a slick operation in the online poker world and things aren’t any different in the casino arena. In practical terms, this means you’ll get three points of access when you want to ante-up: instant play, downloadable and mobile (see next section):

Instant Play

The desktop software is accessible via all browsers, including Chrome, Firefox and IE for PC users and Safari if you play on a Mac. Using the latest Adobe Flash and HTML5 technology, the browser-based software will work at all screen sizes.

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This software has been PokerStars’ bread and butter for more than a decade. Following a design change in 2010, the developers then performed a complete overhaul in 2013. With the new platform came advanced game filters so you can burrow down into specifics such as stakes, style and number of active players. Additionally, the downloadable software allows you to toggle whether you see your bonus status, which settings buttons are on display and whether the tables are free play or real money.

Additionally, if you choose to watch a game (using the eye symbol), you can use the quick seat function under the “table” option to automatically sit you in an identical game. Finally, PokerStars Casino’s downloadable software is available for both PC and Mac users.

When it comes to gaming options, PokerStars Casino works with a variety of leading developers, including: NetEnt, Amaya, Playtech, iSoftbet, Microgaming, Quickspin and more. Like its peers, this means you’ll get easy access to games of all shapes and sizes. At the last count, PokerStars had 303 games covering the following categories:

  • Slots: Starburst, Ted, Butterfly Staxx and more.
  • Jackpot Slots: Genie Jackpots, Mega Moolah, Slots O Gold, Mega Fortune and more.
  • Card & Table Games: Roulette, Blackjack, Swap the Flop and more.
  • Live Casino Games: Dream Catcher, Caribbean Stud, Blackjack, Casino Hold’em, Three Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Roulette and Baccarat.
  • Video Poker: Joker Poker, Deuces Wild, Double Double Bonus and more.
  • Multiplayer: Blackjack, Heads-Up Hold’em and Roulette.

Unique gaming options…

While the breadth and depth of games at PokerStars Casino is strong, it’s certainly not the strongest selection out there. Indeed, when you consider that platforms such as Casumo have upwards of 500 games, it would seem as though PokerStars is lagging behind slightly. However, the operator does have two aces up its sleeve. The first is its ability to create custom games. Because PokerStars is owned by Amaya, it has the ability to create unique game, including Stars Mega Spin. Available to play from $0.50, this slot boasts a progressive jackpot of at least $1 million.

Beyond its ability to offer unique games, PokerStars Casino also provides a universal wallet that gives you the option to bet on sports or poker within seconds. When you combine these two features, it’s fair to say that what PokerStars Casino might lack in quantity, it makes up for in quality.

Mobile casino app

Mobile Casino

If you’re an iPhone, iPad or Android device user, PokerStars has dedicated apps for you. Offering the same range of games, bonuses and deposit features, this app is nice extension of the desktop software. For us, one of the nicest features you’ll find when you install the app is the quick seat function. On top of this, the TouchID login security for iPhone users is a great way to keep your account safe.

If you use an alternative operating system, PokerStars’ desktop software has been optimised to work on all devices. Basically, if you like to game on the go, PokerStars has ensured that you have the opportunity.

Deposit and withdrawal

Deposit and Withdrawal

As UK gamer, you’ll get access to 11 deposit options, including Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, Skrill and bank transfer. One unique payment option you’ll also find is PokerStars TopUp. Essentially a prepaid card, this option is only available in the UK and it allows you to make a deposit without having to key-in your bank details. Cards are available from 20,000 shops in the UK and deposit denominations are: £10, £25, £50, £100 and £250.

Unless you’re using a prepaid card, your withdrawal will be processed and sent back to the method you used to make a deposit. If your cashout amount is lower that the size of your deposit, eWallet (Skrill, PayPal and Neteller) transactions will be processed and credited to your account within a few minutes. For amounts greater than your deposit or with any other payment option, processing can take up to 72 hours. If you’re using debit cards or bank transfers, this means you can expect your receive your cash within 2 to 5 days once processing is complete.

Security and trustworthiness

Security & Trustworthiness

When it comes to safety and security, PokerStars is one of the safest platforms in the business. Aside from full SSL encryption, Gaming Labs certified games and a licence from the UK Gambling Commission, PokerStars is the biggest brand in iGaming. Amaya purchased the company for more than $4 billion and, today, it has a presence in virtually every regulated market.

In terms of what players say, the feedback often mentions issues with bonuses, but that’s par for the course with disgruntled players. In fact, a recent comment on Ask Gamblers noted that it was a “decent casino” that’s both “serious” and “trustworthy”. Overall, if you’re looking for a safe and fair place to play, few brands can match PokerStars’ reputation.

Customer support

Customer Support

PokerStars Casino has an extensive FAQ database as well as an active social media team on Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, if you’re a poker player, you can ask a member of the support team to talk with you via the in-game chat boxes 24/7. Although a telephone option is lacking, you can receive a fairly swift response via the live chat feature or email using the internal contact forms located on your account page.

Conclusion

Conclusion

PokerStars has been the biggest brand in iGaming for the last decade and its online casino platform is, as you’d expect, solid in all areas. Although the wagering conditions are somewhat confusing and more suited to experienced grinders, the loyalty scheme is perfectly pitched for recreational players. On top of this, a slick platform across all mediums and a selection of exclusive games certainly gives PokerStars a number of advantages over the competition.

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We made every effort to ensure that this review was accurate and fair, but we’re only human. If you think we’ve got something wrong, or that the review does not reflect your own experiences with the product, we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below, send us an email, or write your own review in the Customer Reviews section.

 

Joe Townsend
Joe likes to work hard and play hard. He's the first one in the office in the morning, and the first one in the pub in the evening. Joe likes to get down to the Casino when he can, but recently discovered Live Casino where he has all the convenience of playing online with the experience of being right there at the tables.
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PokerStars Review

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