PokerStars is the most widely recognized brand in the online poker world. Unsurprisingly, many people were excited when its parent company, Rational Group, announced it had teamed up with one of Atlantic City’s casinos in order to obtain a New Jersey iGaming license.
The entire process took longer than expected, but in March 2016, PokerStars NJ finally became available to residents of the Garden State. Their amazing software and great bonuses allowed the new site to quickly reach the top of New Jersey’s poker traffic charts.
PokerStars NJ isn’t connected with the wider, international PokerStars network, which means that their player pool is limited exclusively to poker enthusiasts from New Jersey.
That being said, their software is absolutely top-notch as well as extensively tested by players from all over the world.
Available bonuses give you plenty of bang for your buck. Their tournaments are both varied and popular among players. Customer support isn’t quite on par with other rooms.
Bottom line: If you live in New Jersey and you’re even remotely interested in playing online poker, joining PokerStars NJ is almost mandatory.
PokerStars NJ Online
PokerStars is probably one of the most recognizable names in online poker. In March 2016, PokerStars NJ launched after teaming up with Resorts Atlantic City. The one drawback to PokerStars may be its limited network. However, PokerStars has a vast array of tournaments that are always popular with players. The best part may be its impressive welcome package, which is nothing to laugh at. With $30 in free cash on a $20 first deposit, you can't go wrong.
To get your $30 bonus cash, use PokerStars bonus code FREE30 for new players only.
PokerStars NJ welcome bonuses
New PokerStars customers have two welcome packages to choose from:
$30 free play
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.
100 percent matched deposit bonus, up to $600
This bonus is unique in that its full value can be claimed over the course of three consecutive deposits. Here’s an example:
- First of deposit $200, earn a $200 bonus;
- Second deposit of $100 and have your payment matched dollar for dollar again;
- Third deposit of $300 and receive a $300 bonus.
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.
PokerStars NJ poker network
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 NJ poker software
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 NJ mobile poker software
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:
- Manage your account
- Make deposits
- Request withdrawals
- View your hand history
- Keep track of your bonuses and loyalty points
- Contact PokerStars support
All things considered, it’s a well-rounded package and can easily compete with the desktop version of the software.
Mobile poker games
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 the 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.
Land-based network partner
PokerStars was supposed to return to New Jersey as early as 2013. However Rational Group, who were the network’s owners at the time, failed to secure a deal with Atlantic Club – a now-bankrupt casino which was supposed to be the site’s partner in the Garden State.
After Amaya Gaming acquired the company, PokerStars obtained its New Jersey gambling license by teaming up with Resorts Casino Hotel, a Roaring-Twenties-themed land-based venue located in Atlantic City.
Owned by DGMB Casinos, Resorts is an old and successful business which first opened its doors in 1978. It has undergone three major renovations since then. Today, the hotel portion of the building boasts 942 suites and several amazing restaurants. The casino floor is open 24/7. It offers about 2,500 slot machines, which range from old-school fruit machines to modern video slots with excellent visuals and sound effects.
Classic table games are available to. Unfortunately the casino doesn’t have a dedicated poker room, so if you’re craving some live Atlantic City poker action, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Poker games at PokerStars NJ
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:
- 2-7 Triple Draw
- 5 Card Draw
- 8-Game poker
- 2-7 Single Draw
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 & Go tournaments
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 tournaments
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:
- Sunday Warm-Up
- Sunday Storm
- Sunday Special
- Sunday High Roller
- Sunday Supersonic
Also, unlike other NJ-facing poker rooms, PokerStars gives you access to many special events and satellite tournaments.
PokerStars NJ loyalty program
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.
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 NJ banking options
PokerStars NJ supports a wide range of deposit methods. Here are their pros and cons:
- Casino cage – a great option for anyone planning a visit to Resort’s land-based Atlantic City establishment. Simply bring an ID and deposit cash at the casino cage.
- MasterCard and Visa – if a high rejection rate doesn’t scare you, you might want to give it a try. However, we do recommend trying other options before this one.
- Skrill – quick, free, and painless. Best of all, you can fund your Skrill account using your credit card
- Neteller – very similar to Skrill. Also highly recommended.
- eChecks – funds will be credited instantly, but you’ll have to wait for your check to clear before cashing out. This should take less than seven days.
- PayNearMe – print out a PaySlip and take it to your local 7-Eleven store to make a cash deposit. Transactions are capped at $500 per transaction.
- PokerStars Play+ Card – a Discover prepaid card. No rejection issues.
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 NJ customer service
PokerStars’ customer service can be reached exclusively via e-mail. 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.