PokerStars US Online Casino & Poker Site Review

PokerStars Casino joined the crowded NJ market in 2016 as the online partner to the brick ‘n’ mortar Resorts Casino in Atlantic City. It operates in New Jersey under license NJIGP 19-008.

As well as a casino, PokerStars operates an online poker room and the BetStars sports betting site in NJ.

It marked something of a triumphant return to the USA for PokerStars, after being singled out as one of the culprits in 2011’s Black Friday indictments by the Department of Justice. Despite a “bad actor” clause banning the firm from operating in Nevada, PokerStars is able to operate legally in the Garden State.

PokerStars might be better known for dominating online poker worldwide, but they have their eyes set on being a major player in the USA once again. And there’s no doubt that PokerStars has the experience and skills to make a success of its first US-faced online casino.

Let’s explore the New Jersey site of one of the world’s biggest and best-known gambling giants.

PokerStars Casino welcome bonus

PokerStars NJ is not currently running a welcome bonus package. However, players can earn a Casino Instant Bonus as part of a special deal or by completing certain casino challenges.

The Instant Bonus can be converted into real cash if you earn enough redemption points on selected games, but the wager amounts to earn redemption points are high. For example, you have to bet $91 on European Blackjack to earn 1 redemption point.

You can also receive a ‘Chest’ after making a qualifying deposit. You will see the wagering requirements in your ‘Challenges’ window and usually have 7 days to clear the bonus.

Who can play at PokerStars US Online Casino?

You can play at PokerStars if you are 21 or over and located physically within NJ state lines. It is not illegal to sign up for an account outside New Jersey, however.

In compliance with state law, PokerStars uses GeoComply plugins to determine your location. Geolocation services report customers’ physical locations using their PC’s IP address, Wi-Fi, or mobile GPS.

PokerStars casino software

PokerStars NJ differentiates itself from other online casinos in the state by having dedicated download software for players. You can download the PokerStars Casino software for PC, and now Mac, but we found the Mac client still lacked many of the newer games.

Alternatively, you can play games through the simple no-download client at PokerStars casino. The browser-based software at PokerStars is excellent, and gives you full access to a range of Flash and HTML 5 slots, as well as the poker room and sportsbook. It’s worth noting that the download client is a little more reliable, however.

The lobby is easy to navigate and you can find the games you want via the simple to use search function. Slots and games can be filtered by name or ‘Most Popular’ title, but the site would be even better if it had more information in the lobby, like min/max stakes and RTPs.

PokerStars casino smartphone and tablet apps

PokerStars NJ now has download apps for iOS and Android devices. The Apple software comes directly from the App Store while the Android app is available straight from the PokerStars NJ site.

The app is super easy to use and has a lot of the same features and functions as the desktop client. The mobile cashier lets you make deposits and withdrawals with a single tap.

Not all games from the desktop version have made it over to the mobile client, but more are on the way. You can still play a basic selection of roulette, blackjack, and slots games on the move. Luckily, many of the progressives have migrated over to the mobile app, such as NetEnt’s Divine Fortune.

Games at PokerStars Casino

PokerStars NJ has over 200 slots and table games for demo play and real money. You can play through the download client or via the website.

Classic table games like American Roulette and blackjack are available from 50 cents a game. Video poker and special games like Stars Triple Poker are also in the lobby. PokerStars has a great range of multiplayer games too, in variants such as Classic Blackjack and European Roulette.

Online slots

The video slot selection at PokerStars isn’t huge compared to other casinos, but what PokerStars lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality.

There are around 150 video slots, with new titles being added all the time. NetEnt maintains a big presence in the games lobby and provide titles like Starburst, Gonzo’s Quest, and Golden Grimoire.

NextGen is another leading provider of games. Fiesta Cubana has 243 ways to win and is a popular multiway slot available at the best NJ casinos.

The PokerStars casino is unsatisfying in terms of jackpot slots, however.  Currently, there is just one progressive — NetEnt’s Divine fortune — and the site is decidedly lacking some of IGT’s big hitters.

Featured games:

  • Divine Fortune (NetEnt)
  • Gonzo’s Quest (NetEnt)
  • Fiesta Cubana (NextGen)
  • Space Wars (NetEnt)
  • Irish Eyes 2 (NextGen)

Online Video poker

PokerStars NJ has some of the best video poker variants for a New Jersey online casino. All games, however, are just played single line and can be played for 1-5 coins.

NextGen’s Super Jackpot 25 and Super Jackpot 100 are two standout games on the PokerStars site. Both games are based on Jacks or Better, but the twist is that you can gamble your winnings via the Double Up feature. Both games also feature a progressive jackpot with a 1% contribution rate.

Featured games:

  • Deuces Wild
  • Double Bonus
  • Double Double Bonus
  • Joker Poker
  • Super Jackpot 25
  • Super Jackpot 100
  • All American

Online blackjack

PokerStars scores well on its blackjack output. There is a healthy selection of single player blackjack games, but also four or five multiplayer variants where you can sit alongside fellow gamblers. Stakes range from $0.10-$100 in Classic Blackjack to $5-$2500 in Multiplayer Premium Blackjack.

Featured games:

  • Classic Blackjack Multiplayer
  • 21+3 Blackjack Multiplayer
  • Premium Blackjack Multiplayer
  • Atlantic City Blackjack
  • Live Dealer Blackjack

Online roulette

PokerStars NJ has a meager range of roulette variants compared to other online casinos. There is currently just one European Roulette table with stakes starting at $0.10. There is also one Live American Roulette table, but oddly, no computerized version.

Featured games:

  • European Roulette
  • Live American Roulette

Other games

Some of the best alternative casino games at the site involve poker. Heads-Up Hold’em is a casino version of Texas Hold’em that can be tried in single-player or multi-player mode.

PokerStars is the only online casino where you will find Stars Triple Poker. This unique game is played against the house and the aim is to make the best possible 3-card poker hand. It’s similar to Three Card Poker, but there is an additional Pair Plus bonus which pays 1/1 to 40/1 if you make special hands, like a pair or Straight Flush.

PokerStars operates a live casino with a very limited range of games. Currently there is only live blackjack, live American Roulette, and live baccarat, although PokerStars is promising to add more games in the future.

Featured games:

  • Heads-Up Hold’em
  • Baccarat
  • Stars Triple Poker
  • Live Casino

VIP program and cashback at PokerStars online casino

The Stars Rewards program is the dedicated loyalty program at PokerStars. You earn reward points every time you play eligible games like slots and roulette.

The ratio of wager amount to reward points varies hugely depending on the game you are playing. For example, you will earn 1 reward point for every $4.50 of Classic Blackjack play, but for only $1 of roulette play you also earn 1 reward point.

Within your account, you will find a progress bar which fills up each time you score points. Once you completely fill your progress bar, you unlock a Chest. The Chest contains rewards that can be used on free play or a range of other benefits, like StarsCoins.

PokerStars changed the Rewards program recently, following complaints from players. Now, you only need to earn one Chest over a 28-day period in order to maintain your current rewards level. There is also a new feature which allows players  to swap out a challenging Chest for a smaller one if it’s too hard to unlock.

StarsCoins can be redeemed for gifts and benefits in the Rewards Store. Gifts include a variety of options including PokerStars chips, clothing, tablets, and other electronics. You can also exchange your StarsCoins for cash, but the redemption rates make this an unappealing choice:

2,500 StarsCoin: $25 cash
10,000 StarsCoin: $100 cash
100,000 StarsCoin: $1,000 cash

The cashback on games is substandard at PokerStars, particularly when compared to rival NJ casinos. On video slots, it equates to around 0.09-2 percent. For table games, it can be as low as 0.007 percent.

PokerStars also gives players the opportunity to purchase an Instant Casino Bonus. It’s a way of spending your funds to access a match bonus where your play is rewarded with cash.

You can also use StarsCoins to purchase Casino Instant Bonuses from the Rewards Store. A $1 Casino Instant Bonus costs 90 StarsCoins, and there’s a sliding scale up to 90,000 StarsCoins for a $1,000 Casino Instant Bonus.

Deposit options at PokerStars Casino

It’s easy to make deposits via the PokerStars desktop client or mobile app. You can use a US Visa or Mastercard for fast card transactions, but we found that acceptance rates are still pretty low. The deposit limits for credit cards are quite low as well, compared to other NJ casinos.

PokerStars casino also accepts e-Wallets like Skrill and PayPal, as well as instant e-Checks straight from your bank account. The unique Stars Transfer option also lets you send money directly from your US checking account.

Fast Deposit is available on e-Checks, Skrill, Visa, and Mastercard. It’s a special option which lets you refund your account without having to revisit the Cashier page. Fast Deposit can be useful if you are in the middle of a blackjack or slots session and don’t want to leave.

Deposit methods:

  • Instant e-Check
  • Skrill
  • PayPal
  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • Stars Transfer
  • PayNearMe
  • PokerStars Play+ Card
  • Resorts Cage

Withdrawal options at PokerStars

Like all NJ casinos, PokerStars will notlet you cash out using Visa or MastercCard, but you can withdraw to Skrill or PayPal if you used your e-Wallet to make a deposit.

Instant e-Checks are a quick way to get money back into your checking account. And you can cash out as little as $10 directly from the cage at Resorts Casino if you happen to be near Atlantic City.

Withdrawal methods:

  • Instant e-Checks
  • Skrill
  • PayPal
  • Resorts Cage
  • PokerStars Play+ Card

PokerStars customer support

PokerStars casino uses an open contact form for players to communicate with customer support. You can request a callback from staff, but the service is only open 10am to 10pm EST. Alternatively, you could opt to receive an email addressing any of your concerns.

Annoyingly, there is still no live chat service on the PokerStars site, but the on-site FAQ is detailed.

Email: On-site form
Phone: n/a
Live chat: n/a

PokerStars Casino history overview

PokerStars NJ casino launched in 2016 under the Resorts Casino AC license, but PokerStars may always be better known for its world-leading online poker site.

PokerStars was the biggest poker site in the US during the mid-2000s, and only left the market following the events of Black Friday in April 2011. The US Department of Justice opened indictments against the owners of the site for money-laundering offenses and illegal online gambling.

Black Friday led to PokerStars’ exclusion from any future regulated markets in the US. However, in 2016, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement lifted the restrictions on The Stars Group and they were permitted to operate in the US once again. PokerStars now runs an online poker room in New Jersey, as well as an online casino and sportsbook.

Resorts Casino Hotel is one of Atlantic City’s most popular resorts and is operated by DGMB Casinos. It has been running since the late 1970s when AC relaxed its brick ‘n mortar casino laws.

PokerStars US Online Poker Review

PokerStars NJ is an online poker room that’s exclusively available to New Jersey residents and visitors. It’s owned by the Stars Group and is licensed by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE).

PokerStars has been the most dominant brand in online poker for well over a decade. They obtained licensing from the NJDGE in 2015 and have been trying to replicate their success in other markets ever since.

So far, PokerStars has been unable to recreate the same magic in New Jersey. They’re a distant second in terms of traffic to the market-leading 888/WSOP network.

Despite their secondary position, PokerStars still draws attention, thanks to their wide game variety and tournaments.

Getting started at PokerStars NJ

This site requires you to download the desktop client (PC/Mac) or mobile app (Android/iOS) before playing.

The PokerStars NJ homepage is littered with promotions, including some for their online sportsbook and casino. This clutter delays the process of finding the download button and makes getting started a bit more difficult.

PokerStars app

The mobile app is available for Android and iOS devices. You can download the Android version directly from the website, while iOS requires a visit to the App Store.

Desktop client

The PokerStars desktop client takes far longer to download and install than any other PC/Mac software in the state. We waited 15-20 minutes for the process to complete.

Geo-location

You can download PokerStars NJ and enjoy the play-money tables from anywhere. However, you must be physically present in the Garden State to play for real money.

PokerStars uses geo-location to determine if you’re within New Jersey’s borders. This technology tracks your mobile device or computer via Wi-Fi signals.

Age requirement

You must be 21 years or older to play for real money at this site, you will be required to verify that during the registration process.

PokerStars signup bonus

PokerStars gives you the choice between freeplay and a match bonus. The deal you choose should largely depend upon your playing volume.

$30 freeplay

You can get $30 in freeplay upon making your first deposit or $20 or more. The offer includes the following:

  • $20 cash ($10 upfront & $10 seven days after depositing)
  • Three $1 Spin & Go tickets, one $2 Spin & Go ticket, and one $5 Spin & Go ticket
  • Depositor Freeroll ticket

The freeplay is worth considering if you’re a low roller who doesn’t play much poker.

Match deposit bonus

The other option is a 100% match deposit bonus worth up to $600. You unlock this bonus by earning redemption points.

5 redemption points are awarded for every $1 paid in tournament or cash-game rake. You’re credited with $10 of the bonus for every 100 redemption points.

You have 120 days after your first deposit to earn as much of the bonus as possible. Compared to other online New Jersey poker sites, this is the most-generous timeframe for meeting wagering requirements.

If you don’t earn the entire $600, you may use your second and/or third deposits to claim the remainder. We strongly recommend that you consider the match bonus over freeplay if you play a fair amount of poker.

Other promotions

Most of the promotions that litter PokerStars’ homepage are for sports betting. They don’t feature many poker promos outside of the signup bonus.

VIP rewards

PokerStars features a unique loyalty program called Stars Rewards. This VIP plan requires earning Rewards Points, which can lead to treasure chests.

Each chest offers rewards and StarsCoins. The latter can be used to buy tournament tickets and merchandise from the Rewards Store.

You receive 100 Rewards Points for every $1 paid in tournament or ring-game rake. PokerStars provides a progress meter that shows how close you are to unlocking another chest.

The more chests you earn in a day, the better your potential rewards can be. Potential cash payouts in the chests range from $25 to $1,000.

Stars Rewards is aimed at recreational players, who may appreciate the gamification of the VIP program. However, it also includes a lot more randomness than other loyalty plans.

Games & tournaments at PokerStars

PokerStars is the worldwide leader in poker traffic. Not much of this traffic comes from New Jersey, though.

Stars draws a range of 150-200 cash players during peak hours. This figure dips to less than 100 in non-peak times.

PokerStars NJ has, by far, the best game variety in the state. However, this selection means little when considering the low traffic they get.

Cash games

This site features far more variety than any other NJ poker room in terms of cash games. They have virtually every poker variation available, including hold’em, Omaha, Stud, Razz, HORSE, 8-Game, and more.

While this variety is impressive, it’s virtually meaningless. Nothing outside of NL hold’em and PL Omaha draws any players.

The bulk of PokerStars’ traffic is found on low-stakes hold’em tables. The mid-stakes games occasionally get traffic too, although not much.

Tournament action

PokerStars NJ has some of the best tournaments in the state. They feature several regular tourneys with prize pools ranging from $5k to $25k.

These sums aren’t impressive when looking at PokerStars’ international operation. However, they’re noteworthy, given that most New Jersey sites do not have many tournaments worth over $1k.

Stars also offers flagship tournament series in the NJSCOOP (spring) and NJWCOOP (fall). Both series feature over $1 million in guaranteed prize money spread throughout the available tourneys.

Spin & Go’s

A Spin & Go is a lottery style SNG that features three players. The prize pool is randomly determined at the start of the game.

Prize pools can be worth up to 1,000x the buy-in. If this happens in a $25 Spin & Go, for example, the prize pool would be worth $25,000.

These SNGs have proven quite popular among recreational players. They’re one of the most-heavily trafficked types of poker on the site.

PokerStars deposit methods

Stars is competitive with other NJ poker sites regarding deposit options. Here are the available methods:

  • ACH (e-check) – Send money to PokerStars directly from your bank account.
  • Credit card – Visa and Mastercard are accepted at this poker site.
  • E-wallet – PayPal and Skrill both serve PokerStars NJ customers.
  • PayNearMe – Make a deposit at your local 7-Eleven.
  • Resorts cage – Visit Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City to fund your account.

Each one of these banking options hasits advantages and drawbacks.

ACH is really easy to use if you have a bank account. However, e-checks aren’t good for small deposits due to the larger fees.

Mastercard and Visa feature the quickest deposits in the market. For some reason, though, they reject NJ poker deposits at a higher rate than any other banking method.

PayPal and Skrill are simple ways to fund your account. However, transactions can take a few hours to complete.

Both the Borgata cage and PayNearMe require you to physically visit an establishment. You may dislike this when considering that the main point of online poker is convenience.

Withdrawal options

Only three of the deposit methods double as cashout options:

  • ACH – Move funds from PokerStars NJ straight to your bank account.
  • E-wallet – Skrill and PayPal are both simple ways to make withdrawals.
  • Resorts cage – You can also pick up your money at Resorts Hotel Casino.

ACH is easily the slowest way to get your funds from Stars. However, you might still consider e-checks if you don’t mind waiting.

PayPal and Skrill cashouts are completed within less than one business day. The fees (up to 3%) can be rough, though, on larger withdrawals.

The Resorts cage pickup should be considered if you’re willing to visit Atlantic City, both because it is quick as well as because it will incur no additional fees.

Customer support

Email is the only way to reach PokerStars NJ’s customer service department. Stars falls short in this way, given that some sites offer both email and phone support.

The website offers an extensive FAQs section that covers the majority of questions and issues. Naturally, you may get answers faster by referring to these FAQs rather than using email support.

Final Verdict

Unlike their successful internet casino market, New Jersey’s online poker industry has vastly underperformed.

PokerStars NJ was looked to as a potential market savior when they launched in 2016. However, not even Stars has gained much traction in this state.

Even as the state’s second-largest operation, PokerStars is plagued by low traffic. Their large game variety is meaningless inasmuch as most players stay on the hold’em tables.

PokerStars NJ has done a good job of controlling what they can. Their signup bonus rates well against the competition, and they have an interesting loyalty program.

This site is a solid choice overall when considering its bonus, VIP plan, and brand recognition.

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