PokerStars is the most widely recognized brand in the online poker world. Unsurprisingly, many people were excited when its parent company, Rational Group, teamed up with one of Atlantic City’s casinos in order to obtain a New Jersey online gambling license.
The process took longer than expected, but in March 2016, PokerStars NJ finally became available to residents of the Garden State.
PokerStars NJ isn’t connected with the wider, international PokerStars network, which means that the player pool is limited exclusively to poker enthusiasts from New Jersey.
Bottom line: If you live in New Jersey and you’re even remotely interested in playing online poker, joining PokerStars NJ is almost mandatory.
New players at PokerStars in New Jersey will have their choice of two different bonus offers:
|Online Poker Room||PokerStars NJ|
|Last Updated||August 25, 2019|
You must deposit $20 or more in order to claim this bonus. This means that in the most optimal scenario, you’re going to get a 150 percent match on your payment.
Keep in mind the following restrictions: $20 can be used for cash games, while the remaining $10 is for tournament play exclusively.
This bonus is unique in that its full value can be claimed over the course of three consecutive deposits. Here’s an example:
Please note that issuing a withdrawal request will prevent you from claiming any unused chunks of this bonus. The promotional money will be released to you as you earn VIP Player Points, at a rate of $10 per 100 VPPs.
You get 5.5 VPPs for every dollar paid in rake, which means that you’re essentially getting a 55 percent rakeback deal – a ridiculously good offer by industry standards.
Finally, all first-time depositors receive a tournament ticket for a special Depositors Freeroll, which is valid for 60 days. The guaranteed prize pool usually oscillates around the $200 mark.
Aside from the aforementioned welcome bonuses and the loyalty program, PokerStars offers occasional limited-time promotions, which range from reload bonuses to mini-games that require you to match cards or perform simple tasks.
While the value of these promotions is typically quite low, they do a great job of introducing some variety and making your poker sessions all the more exciting.
PokerStars’ loyalty program lets players earn StarsCoins, which they do by accumulating VIP Player Points (VPPs) and progressing through Steps. The number of VPPs needed in order to progress to the next step depends on your account level. For example, you need five VPPs to complete a Step in BronzeStar, but grinding up on Supernova will require 400 VPPs.
This might not seem like a lot since, as mentioned above, paying $1 in rake or tournament fees will net you 5.5 VPPs, but the catch here is that your progression towards the next Step resets at the end of the month.
The amount of StarsCoins you get for completing a Step also depends on your level – a BronzeStar account will net you between 7 and 20, while SuperNova will earn you between 2,000 and 2,200. Progressing to the next rank requires you to complete 20 Steps, except for ChromeStar (25 Steps) and PlatinumStar (15 Steps).
Players can use StarsCoins to purchase tournament tickets or exchange them for cash. Ten dollars costs 1,000 StarsCoins. This translates to anywhere from nine percent rakeback for BronzeStar players, all the way to 28 percent for Supernova.
Confused about progression and Steps? Here’s an example:
Let’s say you’re a new player and that you’ve paid $19 in rake. This means that you’ve earned 80 VPPs. Completing a single Step in BronzeStar requires 5 VPPs, and since BronzeStar has 20 Steps, this means you will have successfully completed 16 steps – four more to go and you’ll advance to the next level. You will also have earned nine percent rake on the $19 spent.
The downloadable software that powers PokerStars NJ might be familiar to some US-based poker veterans. It’s an updated version of the same proprietary package they were using prior to withdrawing from the US market in 2011.
The application is compatible with both Microsoft Windows and Apple’s MacOS. It is very easy to install and use too.
More importantly, PokerStars did an excellent job in terms of security: all downloadable files are signed with a 2048-bit VeriSign RSA certificate. Moreover, the data exchanged with the server is encrypted using the TLS protocol and a 2048-bit RSA key. This renders the vast majority of hacking attempts essentially futile.
PokerStars’ mobile software is available both for Android-powered systems and iOS devices. If you’d like to download the iPhone/iPad version, head over to the Apple App Store. The Android version can be downloaded directly from PokerStars NJ’s website. It isn’t listed in the Google Play Store.
The app is very dependable and well-optimized, but we definitely wouldn’t recommend using it with a slow or unstable internet connection – particularly when playing for real money.
The mobile app comes with a Quick Seating feature, which allows you to reduce your wait time for open seats. All action buttons are large enough to work well even with smaller screens.
Aside from playing for real money, the app allows you to:
All things considered, it’s a well-rounded package and can easily compete with the desktop version of the software.
The mobile app supports all the popular poker games that are available through the desktop lobby. Available games include standard cash games, SnG’s, and MTTs.
However, the most breathtaking option is definitely Zoom Poker, which transfers you to a new table each time you complete a hand to keep the action going.
The only downside is that, given the poker room’s relatively tiny player pool, you’re most likely only going to see action at Texas Hold’em tables. Nevertheless, the app does support multiple poker variants, so you should be able to enjoy some Pot-Limit Omaha or Limit Hold’em during peak traffic hours, particularly on the weekends.
As briefly touched on above, PokerStars NJ isn’t part of the larger PokerStars network, even though the software that powers it is almost identical. It exists in a New Jersey bubble, which is necessary due to local iGaming regulations.
On average, there are about 100 people online playing ring games, but the number rises to 250-300 during peak hours (7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time), making PokerStars NJ the most-popular poker site in the Garden State.
PokerStars offers the largest selection of poker games in New Jersey. Let’s take a look at what’s in stock:
Stakes for No-Limit Texas Hold’em range from $0.01/$0.02 to $25/$50. Both 6-max and full ring tables are available. Finding a few good micro-stakes tables shouldn’t be hard even during off-peak hours. Keep in mind that while Limit Hold’em is also available, you won’t find nearly as much action in that format.
Omaha tables are also available in multiple formats, with stakes ranging from $0.01/$0.02 to $40/$80. Be aware that Omaha tables are significantly less active than their Hold’em counterparts, so you should probably stick to the most popular Pot-Limit variant.
Other available games include:
Be warned, finding a full game in these variants is tough, even during peak hours.
The fast-paced Zoom games are exclusive to PokerStars and are extremely popular worldwide, but the action in New Jersey is understandably significantly slower.
Sit and Gos are small tournaments for up to 10 players. Buy-ins for Texas Hold’em range from $0.25 to $500. No-limit is the only available format.
Omaha SnGs are available as well, with buy-ins range from $1 to $500 and from $5 to $200 respectively. Keep in mind that Omaha tournaments see considerably less action, so you should probably limit your playing sessions to peak traffic hours if you want to stick with this format.
SnGs are available in Turbo and Hyper-Turbo modes. In Turbo mode the blinds increase every five or six minutes, while in Hyper-Turbo mode they go up every three minutes.
Spin & Go is a rather quirky tournament format designed for three players. The buy-ins range from $1 to $25, but the actual prize pool is determined by the poker room’s random number generator and can range from two to a thousand times the size of your buy-in.
The odds of getting the smallest prize pool are 72 percent, and your chances of landing the biggest prize pool multiplier amount to 0.001%. The house always keeps 7 percent of the prize pool as rake regardless of its size.
PokerStars has always been famous for amazing MTTs and the fenced NJ network is no exception in this regard. Dozens of tournaments are played each week, and buy-ins tend to range from $0.10 to $1,000.
Expect most tournaments to be No-Limit Hold’em. Some of them allow re-entries and add-ons, while others are played in knockout format.
PLO and 2-7 Single Draw tournaments are also available, but due to the limited number of players, they’re rather rare.
We’re also happy to report that PokerStars’ popular Sunday Majors made the transition to New Jersey. This cyclical series of tournaments comprises five events:
Also, unlike other NJ-facing poker rooms, PokerStars gives you access to many special events and satellite tournaments.
PokerStars NJ supports a wide range of deposit methods. Here are their pros and cons:
Aside from Visa/MasterCard and PayNearMe, you can use all of the aforementioned banking methods for both deposits and withdrawals. Keep in mind that if you used eChecks, Neteller or Skrill to deposit during the past year, PokerStars NJ won’t allow you to withdraw using any other method.
Please note that spending your PokerStars Play+ Card money on anything other than poker can be bothersome, so we don’t recommend using it as a withdrawal channel.
PokerStars’ customer service can be reached exclusively via email. The staff is usually quick to respond, but the quality of responses can vary. Some responses seem poorly written, which left us with the impression that something was hindering proper communication.
In the end, we got all our questions answered properly, but not before we requested that our request be handled by a different support representative.
Overall we feel this is a far cry from the type of quality support we’ve come to expect from PokerStars International support team. Definitely room for improvement.
PokerStars operates the world’s largest online poker site. It is licensed in dozens of countries and leads the market in two of the three European ring-fenced jurisdictions.
PokerStars ran into legal problems in the US after being indicted by the Justice Department on April 15, 2011. In 2012, PokerStars and its parent company Rational Group came to terms with the US government. PokerStars paid a total of $731 million to settle charges.
Part of this agreement included the acquisition of Full Tilt Poker and repayment of over $300 million in player funds that were lost due to what the US Department of Justice described as a “Ponzi scheme” under previous Full Tilt Poker ownership.