Online gambling became legal in Pennsylvania in October 2017, which in turn opened the doors for PokerStars, one of the leading online poker operators in the US and worldwide, to launch its site for PA players in November 2019. Aside from online poker, the site also includes an online casino and sports sections from Stars Casino and FOX Bet.
Most online casinos are partnered with land-based establishments, and the same is true for PokerStars Pennsylvania; it’s linked with the reputable Mount Airy Casino Resort in Mt. Pocono.
PokerStars USA is also legally licensed to operate in New Jersey and Michigan. Anyone can sign up for a PokerStars account, but bear in mind you will need to be physically present in whichever state to use that version of the site.
All branches of PokerStars use the same high-quality software, but for now, player pools are also not shared between states.
However, the good news is we do have plenty of relevant Pennsylvania online poker information for you, so if you are interested in signing up, we cover everything you need to know in our PokerStars Pennsylvania review.
Whether you are a seasoned card shark or completely new to online poker, a site’s welcome bonus should always be worth using. The good news is PokerStars Pennsylvania has two offers available for players who register a new account, although you can only choose one:
- $50 Free Play
- 100% deposit bonus up to $600
PokerStars PA $50 No Deposit Offer
The $50 Free Play welcome offer is the most straightforward. There’s no wagering requirement or specific initial deposit amount. All you need to do is opt-in via the Challenges tab and then play at least one hand in a Cash Game within five days of registering.
You’ll then receive $50 in site credit, spread across five days and available via Chests (more on these in a later section). The $50 bonus takes the form of these specific game tickets:
- Day 1: 2 x $5 Spin & Go tickets
- Day 3: 2 x $5 Spin & Go tickets and 1 x $10 ticket
- Day 5: 2 x $10 tickets
Bonus credit is used before real money currently in your account. Tickets can be used for any Spin and Go events, or PokerStars tournaments. You get to keep any winnings made using a bonus ticket, but if you opt-out of the promotion you’ll forfeit any unused bonus credit. It’s also worth noting that any unused bonus credit will be withdrawn from your account seven days after you receive it.
100% up to $600 on the First Deposit
The PokerStars Pennsylvania bonus of 100% up to $600 is more in line with typical online gambling site welcome offers. You’ll need to make a first deposit of at least $10, but you will also be able to use your next two deposits to get the full $600 bonus.
There are, however, a few important clauses. The first is that you will need to use the promo code ‘STARS600’ with each deposit. The second is that you’ll need to earn ‘redemption points’. Once you’ve got 140 of these, you’ll receive $10 in cash.
This is a rather unique requirement on the surface, but in practice is not too different from typical wagering terms; you will still need to play real money games a certain number of times to release your bonus money.
You get redemption points from all PokerStars tournaments and ring games that feature a fee or rake. Generally, every $1 you spend equals five points. Games that don’t involve cash fees, such as freeroll and Play Money tournaments, do not award redemption points.
You’ will have 60 days after making your first deposit to claim the full $600 bonus. However, you’ll have 120 days after each deposit to earn enough redemption points to claim the bonus amounts.
For example, if you make an initial $10 deposit, you will have 120 days to earn 140 points to unlock the 100% deposit match of $10. If after 30 days of your first deposit you make a second of $50, you will have 120 days from that date to then claim $50 in bonus cash via 700 redemption points.
The third deposit will then need to be made within 30 days of the $50 deposit, and each one requires you to use the ‘STARS600’ code.
If you withdraw any money within 60 days of making a deposit, you will forfeit the right to earn a deposit match on any subsequent deposits. However, you can earn bonus cash based on your previous deposits, and keep any winnings made from using that bonus cash.
Overall, each PokerStars Pennsylvania bonus is excellent. If we were to compare them to welcome offers on other Pennsylvania online poker sites, such as BetMGM Poker PA and Borgata Poker PA, they’re quite similar. Both have $600 deposit match offers for new players but with stricter time limits than the equivalent PokerStars Pennsylvania bonus.
Unfortunately, PokerStars Pennsylvania promotions are not always as impressive as the welcome bonuses. There are times when PokerStars PA runs plenty of lucrative promotions, but there are also times when the selection of promotions in quite thin. Below are some of the types of promotions that you can typically find on PokerStars PA.
Every Sunday during the promotional period, PokerStars PA runs tournaments with sizable prize pools and half-price buy-ins. The schedule of relevant tourneys is revealed the previous Sunday, complete with start time and entry price.
Tickets for Regular Daily and Sunday Major events cannot be used for half-price tournaments.
Multi-Table Tournament (MTT) Leaderboard
If you want a chance to show other players how skilled you are, and earn bonus credit in the process, take part in a regular MTT. Place in the top 15%, and you’ll get Tournament Leader Board (TLB) points. The number of points varies from event to event.
Finish in the top 60 at the end of the month, and you will win T$ – these are special bonus credits you can redeem for prizes in any PokerStars PA online tournament.
It’s disappointing to find a shortage of PokerStars Pennsylvania promotions, but the ones that exist are at least worth taking advantage of. If you are particularly interested in tournament play, then you are sure to get extra value from what is available.
If you are also disappointed in the limited selection of PokerStars Pennsylvania promotions, then you will likely be pleased to know our PokerStars Pennsylvania review found the rewards scheme particularly worthwhile.
Many online gambling sites now include loyalty programs and PokerStars’ Stars Rewards operate in much the same way as other schemes: you earn points by playing real money games.
Rather than redeeming points for prizes, they increase your progress bar. Fill up the bar, and you will earn a Chest, as well as additional reward points. Chests come in the following levels and respective content values:
- Blue (level 1): From $0.36 to $6
- Bronze (level 2): $0.72 to $12
- Silver (level 3): $1.80 to $30
- Gold (level 4): $6 to $100
- Diamond (level 5): $15 to $250
- Black (level 6): $42 to $700
The potential prize value varies so wildly as it’s possible to ‘cash in’ your points balance before the bar is full. You will need to win a Chest at least every 28 days, otherwise your progress level is reset to the one before. Cash in your points before they expire, even if the bar is not full, and you can get a Chest with a respectable value.
Each value also comes with a chance of winning. For example, the chances of getting a Silver Chest with a $30 content value is 1 in 1000, compared to getting a Silver Chest with $1.80 value of 110 in 1,000.
Players get 100 reward points for every $1 paid in Zoom, rake, cash games, or other tourney fees. If you are also a fan of sports and casino betting, the good news is playing in those sections also counts towards your Stars Rewards level. Points are earned and shared between all parts of the PokerStars PA site.
Lastly, Chests can include personalized prizes, as well as StarsCoin. These can be redeemed in the Rewards Store for a host of exclusive gifts, from clothes to electronics and poker sets. StarsCoin can also be converted to cash:
- 2500 StarsCoin = $25
- 10,000 StarsCoin = $100
- 100,000 StarsCoin = $1,000
As if that’s not enough, they can also be used to buy tickets to tournaments and even win seats in live poker events.
Overall, Stars Rewards is one of the best loyalty schemes we’ve come across. The way rewards points function like ‘XP’ in video games, together with the randomized drop rate of Chest value, adds a gamification angle that we are sure many players will get a kick out of.
If this sort of thing does not get your blood flowing, then you can still unlock plenty of interesting and exclusive rewards.
Our PokerStars Pennsylvania online poker review is pleased to report that PokerStars PA really excels when it comes to available tournaments. Scheduled events range from MTT to Spin & Go, guaranteed series, and more.
PokerStars is easily the best option for MTT players in the state. Rich schedules with big guarantees and the range of buy-ins on offer ensure that all players can find plenty of action here, regardless of their bankroll or skill level.
Multi-Table Tournaments are available daily and weekly on PokerStars PA and count towards the MTT Leaderboard promotions.
Specific events and their details do change regularly, so we cannot say with certainty what a ‘typical’ buy-in or guarantee is. However, there are typical MTT games available, including Satellites and Shootouts.
You’ll also find the following tourney types available:
- Guaranteed Tournaments
- Heads-Up Tournaments
- 6-Max and 4-Max
- Phased Tournaments
- Progressive Knockouts
- Rebuy Tournaments
- Re-entry Tournaments
- Time Tourneys
You will also find regular events, including Daily Bigs, Hot Turbos, Nightly Stars, Bounty Builders, Moonlight Express, and Sunday Majors (Supersonic, Warm-Up, Storm, High Roller, and Special).
These events also have changing details, but typical buy-ins tend to range from $5 to $100.
For large-scale tournaments, PokerStars runs an annual PASCOOP (Pennsylvania Spring Championship of Online Poker) with prize pools into thousands of dollars. For comparison, winners from the 2021 PASCOOP took home amounts from $278 all the way up to a staggering $46,410.
86 out of 123 tournaments exceeded their guarantees, with many of the games in this PASCOOP receiving entries ranging from 500 players to over 1,000. Over 47,000 people took part in the 17-day event, with 1,015 entries taking part in the Main Event. This cost $300 to enter, with a $200,000 guarantee that was easily smashed.
In short, shared liquidity means players can compete in the same tournaments and cash games with players in other states. At the time of writing, the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) incorporates New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, which means only licensed online poker sites in those areas can share player pools.
As such, PokerStars PA does not share liquidity with other states or sites. However, this may change given the news involving the federal Wire Act which previously prohibited sports betting across state lines. In 2018, the US Department of Justice opined that the Wire Act also prohibited online poker, but the courts did not agree, and shared liquidity is expected to expand to other states in 2021.
This means that PokerStars could legally share player pools across its PA, NJ, and MI sites by joining the MSIGA. It would also allow future state-wide expansion of PokerStars to join, increasing the chances of shared liquidity across its entire network.
Sit & Go games do not have set start times; instead, they have a player limit. Once this is met, the game starts. Sit & Go tournament types vary, but common versions you’ll find on PokerStars PA include No Limit, Satellite, and Hyper/Turbo.
Spin & Go
Spin & Go tournaments are a newer variation and are 3-Max Hyper-Turbo Sit & Go tournaments. They’re designed to provide fast-paced games with buy-ins ranging from $1 up to $25. Prize pools are randomly selected when the last entrant joins a game, with first prizes being multiplied by up to 1000 times.
Spin & Gos are played over three hands and always start with 500 chips. 7% of the prize pool goes to rake, but even if you place second and third you’ll still walk away with 8-10% of the prize pool if you get lucky enough to trigger one of the higher multipliers. In smaller Spins, only the winner gets paid.
Whenever you open the PokerStars Pennsylvania app, whether on mobile or desktop, you will be able to choose between Tourneys, Sit & Gos, Spin & Gos, and Cash Games. There are 30 of these to choose from, split between Hold ‘Em, Draw, Omaha, Stud and Mixed categories. The selection includes such games as:
- No Limit Hold ‘Em
- Tempest Omaha
- 7 Card Stud
You can also choose between Micro, Low, Medium, High, or Custom Range stakes, which go from $15 and under through to $400 and over. When we checked available games, the list was impressive across all stake types, with most tables full or with one or two players waiting for a seat.
Table sizes are:
- Full Ring (seven – 10 players)
- Short Ring (three – six players)
- Heads-up (two players)
At the time of writing, no Zoom tables were available. We understand that there are plans for these in the future, though. All-in-all, the number of game types, stake limits, and table sizes means that you are sure to find a game you will like, no matter what level of poker player you are.
If you want to play Pennsylvania online poker with PokerStars, you will need to download the PokerStars software. The download size is minimal and installs incredibly quickly. Client updates can take a while, but otherwise, it is possible to get logged in and play poker remarkably fast.
In terms of how it compares with other Keystone State poker sites, such as BetMGM or Borgata, in truth, they’re all very close in quality. However, we slightly preferred the speed, content, and layout of PokerStars PA. We also believe it to be one of the best poker platforms out there.
While we were using the software, we never came across any bugs or connection issues. It always opened and ran smoothly, with games connecting as soon as a place was free. It also offers precisely the same features and reliability whether you’re on desktop or using the PokerStars Pennsylvania mobile app (it’s available for Windows, iOS, and Android).
Noteworthy features include
- Quick Seat: choose from different game, buy-in, stakes, and maximum players options, then instantly join the first available table.
- Play Money: find games you can play for free with virtual credit.
- Challenges: complete tailored tasks to unlock exclusive rewards, e.g., bet $1 and get $50 bonus credit.
- Customization options: change and tweak almost every aspect of your PokerStars PA experience, from table appearance to the layout and lobby display.
- Home Games: join or create a private poker club so that you can play private games with family and friends.
As for how the client looks by default, its predominantly black, white, red, and gray color scheme looks sleek and is easy on the eyes. However, the actual layout feels cluttered and a little difficult to parse. A built-in search function would greatly help you find whatever you want with the minimum of clicking.
Otherwise, this is really the only negative point. Everything else about the PokerStars PA platform feels designed to highlight the choice and variety on offer, with a control panel on the right of the client leading to various commonly used tabs (rewards, settings, leaderboards, etc.).
As already mentioned. PokerStars PA offers mobile solutions for Windows, iOS, and Android. You can download the appropriate app without any problems and install it on your device within minutes. Once the app is up and running, you can use it to register for a new account or log in with your existing details if you already have one.
As far as mobile poker apps go, this is perhaps the best one out there. You will find a variety of customization options to make your gaming experience smoother, as well as many handy functionalities to easily find the games you are looking for or play multiple tables at the same time. A responsive user interface ensures your desired actions always go through as intended.
Is PokerStars PA really legal and trustworthy?
Yes. Seeing as the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board regulates it, you can rest assured that not only is PokerStars PA safe and legal, but also that your personal and financial data is secure and protected.
Is PokerStars PA rigged?
No. Part of the PGCB license means that it only gives the thumbs up to reputable sites. In other words, games are fair, and the only way you will lose is if you are unlucky or simply playing against a better opponent, rather than because of using rigged software.
Do I have to be in Pennsylvania to play on PokerStars PA?
Yes. You will need to be physically present in Pennsylvania to use PokerStars PA. Geolocation is used to verify your whereabouts.
Can I register for PokerStars Pennsylvania without being in the state?
Yes. Anyone can sign up as long as you are legally allowed to gamble online in your jurisdiction.
Does PokerStars PA share liquidity with any other PokerStars sites in the US?
No, although with the Wire Act no longer affecting online gambling, there is a decent chance this may change in the future.
Can I play on PokerStars PA from my phone?
Yes. The PokerStars Pennsylvania mobile app can be downloaded from the links provided.