Once rated by Casino City as the third most popular poker room on the Internet, PokerStars was recently forced to close its “Real Money” web site, PokerStars.com, to residents of the United States and related territories. On 15 April 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation deemed it was not in compliance with U.S. anti-gambling laws.
As a result, PokerStars customers were notified to cash out their funds. The owner of the web site, Rational Entertainment Enterprises Limited, has worked diligently to expedite those withdrawals and ensure that PokerStars players’ deposits are completely safe.
U.S. residents are still allowed to participate for free on the PokerStars.net “Play Money” web site, while non-American players who wish to join real-money games in English may do so at the PokerStars.co.uk web site. In total, some 26 other languages are supported for real-money play as well, from German, French and Spanish to Chinese.
The PokerStars software is available in a downloadable version only, using a proprietary application licensed in the Isle of Man. At any given time, there can be over 210,000 players seated at nearly 7,000 tables, ensuring that the action is nonstop, 24/7.
Although play and payouts are denominated in U.S. Dollars, other currencies are also accepted for financial transactions, including Euros, U.K. Pounds, Australian and Canadian Dollars, Krone, Kronor, Kroner and Swiss Francs. Accepted methods for both deposit and withdrawal include Click2Pay, ClickandBuy, eCheck, EntroPay, InstaDebit, Maestro, Moneta.RU, Moneybookers, NETeller, Solo, Visa, Visa Electron and WebMoney.
PokerStars is big on education, offering a huge selection of tutorials and tips on rules and strategy. What has always set this site apart from others, however, is the wide array of poker variations provided. There are tables not only for “flop” games such as Texas Hold’em and Omaha, but also for stud poker versions like 5-Card Stud, 7-Card Stud and Razz along with 5-Card Draw, 2-7 Single Draw Lowball, 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball and Badugi. There are also “mixed” poker games, including HORSE, 8-Game Mix and Triple Stud.
As a welcome to new players, there is 100% Deposit Bonus, matching the funds placed in a new account up to $600. Unlike most first deposit bonuses, the 100% match applies to the initial three deposits made within 90 days of sign up. The bonus cash is then released at a rate of $1 for every 17 VIP Player Points (VPPs) earned.
VPPs are the PokerStars method of rewarding loyalty. They determine each player’s monthly or yearly VIP status, which is ranked in levels from Bronze through Silver, Gold and Platinum to Supernova and Supernova Elite. Monthly VPPs are reset at the start of each month, while annual VPPs are reset on 1st January every year. VPPs are counters only and not redeemable for cash.
On the other hand, Frequent Player Points (FPPs) are redeemable. They can also be used for obtaining tournament entries or items from the VIP Store. Each time one VPP is earned, at least one or more FPPs are also earned, depending on the player’s VIP status.
Among other promotions offered at PokerStars are a Reload Bonus that occurs at various times during the year, the weekly Sunday Million tournament with its $1 million prize pool and an ongoing Poker League. The latter allows players to qualify for live tournaments in the U.K., plus cash prizes.
Non-American players need not be concerned about the recent action to restrict cash play among U.S. residents. The customer support staff are especially sensitive the issue and can be reached 24/7 via email for quick response to all inquiries.