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The Biggest Global Poker Site Returns to the US with Their Regulated NJ Site
PokerStars is the biggest global online poker room. They are significantly bigger than any other brand – and are known for huge tournament prizes, multiple poker formats and excellent software. In 2016, PokerStars opened a dedicated New Jersey site. This is only available for players physically inside the state borders. This launch was hugely anticipated. PokerStars quickly became the biggest single site, lagging behind the WSOP.com / 888 NJ partnership (who are bigger thanks to sharing players with Nevada and Delaware).
This PokerStars NJ review takes you through everything you need to know to get off to a great start at PokerStars New Jersey. If you are new to this site, you’ll find out what makes it stand out from the other brands.
$30 In Bonuses for a $20 Deposit – or a 100% Match Up to $600
PokerStars give you a choice of matched bonus or tokens / instant bonus money when you first join.
Smaller bankroll players can get $20 in bonus money (for use in any game) plus $10 in tokens for their Spin N Go tournaments. You need to deposit a minimum of $20 using the PokerStars NJ bonus code FREE30 to claim this.
Here is the breakdown.
Day 1: $10 in bonus cash + 5 spin and go tickets (3 at $1, 1 at $2 and 1 at $5).
Day 7: The final instalment of $10 in bonus money
You will also get a new depositor freeroll ticket. This game takes place on the last Sunday of each month.
You’ll have 21 days to use your tokens. Note that if you withdraw while you have unused / active tokens they will be removed from your account.
If you are depositing a larger amount, you can take advantage of the traditional matched bonus instead. Deposit with the PokerStars NJ bonus code STARS600 to claim this one. This works in the same way that most poker deposit bonuses do. As you pay rake and tournament entry fees, you’ll unlock the bonus in small increments of $10. You have 60 days to collect as much of your matched bonus money as possible before it expires.
This matched bonus offer is the equivalent of a 50% return on your rake and fees while you are clearing it.
PokerStars NJ: How the Stars Rewards System Works?
The tagline to the Stars Rewards loyalty scheme is ‘Make Every Game Count’. This system covers sports betting and online casino games – as well as poker. As you play real money games you will see a progress bar increase. Once this reaches the end, you’ll get to open chests – which contain rewards and prizes tailored to your play. For example, tournament players will find more T$ (tournament dollars), while Spin N Go fans will find prizes of entries into those games.
There are different colored chests to open, usually at the end of your sessions. The value of the prizes increases dramatically as you climb through the levels:
Red: up to $50
Blue: up to $100
Bronze: up to $250
Silver: up to $500
Gold: Up to $750
Platinum: Up to $1000
You can get boosts for your progress bar in different ways – often tied in with short-term promotions. If you win bonus cash prizes, you get the choice of using these in the games – or taking them to a special online store, where they can be exchanged for special merchandise.
Compared to the older ‘VIP Club’, this rewards system is more entertaining. It deliberately gamifies the rewards – giving some extra entertainment along the way. While ‘pro grinders’ might miss the old rebates based on volume of play, the Stars Reward system gives recreational players the chance of some bigger rewards from picking a lucky chest.
Regular Promos and One-Off Specials at PokerStars New Jersey
PokerStars have regular poker events, and often run promotions alongside those. They are known for creative one-off promos – so make sure you keep an eye on their homepage at www.pokerstarsnj.com for the latest.
Here is a selection of what is available at the time of writing, you might find even bigger and better promos by the time you read this!
Half Price Sundays: The tournament guarantees stay the same, though the buy-ins are half the usual amount. An excellent opportunity to find ‘overlays’.
MTT Leaderboards: If you play a lot of tournaments you might find yourself rewarded with a cash prize.
Betting Promos: Alongside the poker promos, there are offers for trying out the sportsbook. These include free bets, rebates for different sports and a matched sports betting offer.
Depositors Freerolls: If you make a deposit, you’ll be able to join a depositors freeroll on the last Sunday of every month.
Live Poker Event Qualifiers: Win seats at live championships around the world, including the famous Caribbean Adventure and Players Championship events.
The new (version 7) of the PokerStars client is considered the best poker software anywhere. The smoothness of the animations, almost instant transition from lobby to table and easy controls are just the start. Where this software really stands out is the depth of settings and configurability for players. While some of these settings are for multi-tabling, you can adjust the look and feel of the software even if you only play one or two tables.
You will need to download the PokerStars software to get the best results. For Windows and Mac users the full client is recommended. If you are using an iPhone or iPad or Android device, you can find apps. These allow for multiple tables, and have full cashier functionality too.
Once you have played on the PokerStars software, the other brand’s platforms will seem clunky and old-fashioned by comparison!
Game Selection at PokerStars New Jersey
There is something of a contradiction with the game selection at PokerStars New Jersey. There are more formats (table size, stakes, rules, speeds and tournament sub-types) than anywhere else online. At the same time, with only players from NJ on the site, there are often not enough people to run many games outside of NL Hold’em and PLO.
The good news is that once PokerStars open in other states and the player pools are combined, the depth of game options will give them a clear advantage over the competition. You can find out about the 3 main game formats below, starting with Tournaments, then looking at cash games and Sit N Goes.
Tournament Selection at PokerStars NJ
Sundays is the best day for big buy-in (and big guarantee) online poker tournaments. There are 5 games listed as ‘Majors’. These are headed by the Sunday Special which has a $30,000 guaranteed prize pool. You will also find the early-start Sunday Warm Up, smaller buy-in Sunday Storm a high-roller game and super-turbo event.
These are not the biggest tournaments of all – those take place during special events. The first one, called the ‘New Jersey Championship of Online Poker’ or ‘NJCOOP’ was a big success. This has a series of huge guarantees – as well as bigger tournaments for small bankroll players. Those guaranteed prize pools totalling $1.6 million. More events (for example the Spring NJ Championship) are scheduled to follow.
PokerStars are known for being first to market with novel tournament variations. They offer a huge choice of rebuy, freezeout and turbo games. Most of these are in NL Hold’em format – with some Omaha variants too. You’ll find knockout games, big ante variants and super-turbo games too.
Sit N Goes and Spin N Goes the New Jersey PokerStars:
Worldwide the lottery / jackpot Sit N Go format has largely taken over from the old 1-table tournament format. You can still find Sit N Goes running in the old style, typically 9 player games with 3 paying places. Spin N Goes are much faster and have the added interest of a random prize pool.
These are 3-handed games which have super-fast blinds and shallow chip-stacks. You can’t fold too many hands, or you will simply blind out of contention – meaning action is almost guaranteed.
After each game starts, you find out how much money you are playing for. Most of the time this will be $2 – with the winner taking all. Sometimes, you’ll find a huge prize instead, with the top one being 1,000x your buy-in. The smallest buy-in Spin N Go tournaments are $1 these go up to $25 per game.
Cash Game Selection at PokerStars NJ
Without access to the international player pools, the cash game selection is on the smaller side. As you’d expect, No-Limit Hold’em completely dominates. Recent peaks of 325 players don’t leave room for too many other variants. You will find PLO, PLO8 and other Omaha formats get some traffic. Games like 7-2 Triple Draw and Stud don’t currently have enough players to keep games regular.
Action in the cash games is focused on the smaller buy-ins. Games at PokerStars NJ start with penny blinds and $2 buy-ins. You’ll find games around the clock up to 50c / $1, though evenings / weekends are needed for anything bigger. Buy-ins go all the way to $10 / $20 blinds.
Zoom poker – the fast fold poker format from the international PokerStars site – is not available in New Jersey. This requires a bigger player pool to run.
Banking: How to Deposit and Withdraw from PokerStars NJ?
You’ll find several easy ways to get your money on board at PokerStarsNJ.com. These include a special branded ‘Play+’ card, as well as some electronic wallet options. Certain deposit options work for ‘Fast Deposits’ in both the PokerStars NJ desktop clients. This allows you to specify an amount, and then deposit in a single click.
Here are the methods available, with a note on whether they also work for withdrawals and fast deposit:
PokerStars Play+ Card:
This is a debit card, you get approved, and then load some funds from your regular credit cards. You can then use those funds to deposit and withdraw back onto your Play+ card too.
eChecks / ACH Deposit:
Transfer directly from your bank by writing an ‘electronic check’. With approval, you’ll be able to move money instantly. This method also works for withdrawals and fast deposit.
This popular wallet lets you log in separately via the cashier to approve your payment. It adds an extra level of security between your bank and the poker room. This can be used for both deposits and withdrawals, though does not work with PokerStars fast-deposit.
Skrill / Neteller:
These two wallets are similar to PayPal. They work for deposits, withdrawals and can be used for the fast deposit function.
This is named differently, though is essentially a bank transfer from supported banks (including BoA, Wells Fargo and Chase). This is for deposits only.
The two most popular credit card brands can be used for deposits. While fast deposit is supported for both – withdrawals are not.
Resorts Casino Cage:
You can deposit and withdraw in person at the cage at Resorts, Atlantic City.
This is for deposits only. The cashier at 7-11 stores will allow you to pay cash into your PokerStars account.
PokerStars New Jersey Responsible Gaming Policy
While some brands have the minimum information on problem gambling to meet the NJ licensing requirements, PokerStars have a very detailed policy. This starts with a ‘Mission Statement’, which shows the commitment of this brand to protecting those with gambling issues.
There is a lot of information on the steps taken to prevent underage gambling. This includes links for parents to browsing control services. You’ll see that PokerStars use Id verification, which includes your social security number, to ensure you are over 21.
If you are concerned that you, or someone you know, might have a problem with gambling, you’ll find a lot of information. This includes a list of questions, which could indicate a risk.
Licensed New Jersey poker rooms need to have the capability for players to self-exclude or take time-outs, as well as setting deposit limits. Here is what PokerStarsNJ.com offers:
Short-Term Time-Outs: You can choose from 3, 7, 30, 60 or 120-day exclusions via the PokerStars software. This will unregister you from tournaments, prevent deposits and stop you playing on either real money or play money tables.
180 Day Time-Out: This is also an option in the time-out list, though there are some differences. First, if you choose 180 days, you will need to withdraw your balance. Second, you will need to contact support when the period is over, and request that your account is opened (it won’t happen automatically like with the shorter time-outs).
Longer Self Exclusion or Permanent Exclusion: You’ll need to contact PokerStars support to get any exclusion of longer than 6-months set up. This will involve filling in a form, and sending it in.
In addition to the exclusion / time-out options, there are flexible limits for deposits and play. Unlike other online poker rooms, you can set limits for different types of poker. As well as playing time and deposits, you can also set a buy-in limit.
About Resorts AC / PokerStars: A Quick-Fire History
Resorts was the first hotel / casino anywhere outside of Nevada. It opened in 1978, with long lines of players waiting for the ribbon-cutting ceremony to be over. Over the years a lack of renovations meant bigger and more luxurious casinos took market share. A more recent renovation (with a 1920’s theme) has given Resorts a new lease of life.
Like many casinos in AC, there were changes in ownership and disputes from big name developers behind the scenes. This included Donald Trump, who tried to buy the property outright at one point. Eventually a deal would be struck with rival Merv Griffin. This led to Trump owning the then in-development Taj Mahal casino site.
PokerStars are the single biggest online poker brand around the world. They started in 2001, getting an initial boost when the winner of a satellite tournament (Chris Moneymaker) went on to win the World Series of Poker.
Their real break would come after the UIGEA laws pushed most of their rivals out of the US in 2006. PokerStars decided to stay open to USA players – and used the opportunity to become the giant they are today. When their domain was seized and they were shut out of the USA in 2011, they already had an insurmountable lead over their rivals.
After paying fines and fighting legal battles, PokerStars were finally able to open their NJ site in 2016. While they are the single biggest NJ site, the player pool does not connect with sites in other states.
Wrapping Up: Is PokerStars NJ the Best Legal Poker Site?
There was a lot of excitement when PokerStars opened in New Jersey. Players that remembered the heyday of online poker and the huge choice of games on offer closely associate PokerStars with those times.
While the software is a lot better than that of any rival site – the player pool is still on the smaller side. PokerStars is the biggest site in NJ, though without the ability to pool players from other states (they don’t have non-NJ sites), WSOP / 888 does offer more choice.
When PokerStars does begin to expand (for example with PokerStars PN), the combination of bigger player pools and their excellent software will make it hard for rivals to challenge them.
You’ll find the PokerStars NJ reload bonus and ongoing rewards are aimed more towards recreational players than ‘pro grinders’ these days. These include a choice of $30 in tokens (small deposit needed) or a 100% to $600 welcome deal. Chests, which contain prizes tailored to the games you prefer, are the main rewards program.
Tournament events like the New Jersey Championship of Online Poker, cash games and entertaining formats like Spin N Go keep PokerStars ahead of the rest. I recommend you sign up, get to know the games, and wait for those big multi-state player pools – things are sure to take off!
| PokerStars NJ FAQ
Can I Play in the Sunday Million at PokerStarsNJ.com?
No. The famous $1 million guaranteed Sunday Million is part of the schedule of the international poker room. Inside NJ you can only play against other state residents, making the tournaments smaller. The equivalent is the $30,000 guaranteed Sunday Special. When online poker events such as the ‘NJCOOP’ run, you’ll find some big prize tournament action.
Does PokerStars New Jersey have Zoom Poker?
No. Once again this is a size issue, with not enough players the ‘pools’ which this fast-fold poker format rely are not possible. Once PokerStars are able to share players between states, Zoom should be available.
How Can I Change my PokerStars Screen Name?
Whatever name you come up with when you register is the one you will be stuck with. Make sure you don’t pick a name you might regret later.
Is the Deal Fair?
100% fair. While many (often bad) players complain that online poker is rigged, there is zero evidence that this is the case. PokerStars have dealt billions of hands (just hit the 40 billion milestone to be exact), and every test / audit and tracking database says the same thing – that the deal is random.
Is PokerStars NJ Legal?
Yes, this site is licensed by the New Jersey Division of Gambling Enforcement under Resorts Casino B&M license. To legally enjoy online poker games, you must be 21+ and inside the state borders.
Is PokerStars the Largest New Jersey Poker Room?
This is the largest single poker room – though 888 / WSOP offer more games and tournaments. That is due to sharing of liquidity between 888 / WSOP in New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada. PokerStars currently only have their NJ site.
Is PokerStars Safe?
Yes. Some big brands with long records of treating their players well are involved in this poker room. SSL technology and separation of player funds are used. If you are worried about handing over your credit card information, there are plenty of alternative deposit options including PayPal, Neteller or even cash.