PokerStars is an online poker cardroom owned by The Stars Group. It can be accessed through downloadable poker clients for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.
A PokerStars.com online satellite tournament produced the 2003 World Series of Poker (WSOP) champion, Chris Moneymaker. As the first person to become a world champion by qualifying at an online poker site, Moneymaker’s 2003 win was an important factor in catalyzing the poker boom of the mid-2000s. The press has called this the “Moneymaker effect.”
PokerStars is the largest real money online poker site in the world, controlling over two-thirds of the total online poker market.
PokerStars launched its beta play-money-only site on September 11, 2001. The company began offering real money wagering on December 12, 2001. PokerStars was originally a Costa Rican company, Rational Enterprises, which was majority-owned by the Israeli Scheinberg family. The company was subsequently moved to Onchan, Isle of Man. The move was driven by the establishment of a 0% corporate tax rate and the removal of rules barring companies from accepting casino and poker bets from the United States of America. PokerStars holds its license with the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission and also holds numerous licenses in other jurisdictions (see Regulated Markets below). On February 10, 2012, PokerStars acquired a European Union license granted by the Malta Lotteries and Gaming Commission.
While privately owned, PokerStars had been the subject of financial media speculation regarding a possible initial public offering or merger with a publicly listed company. Analysts estimated it’s market value would have been approximately $2 billion (US) in 2006, which would have made the company one of the world’s largest privately held gambling companies. PokerStars overtook PartyPoker as the world’s largest online poker room after the U.S. Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. Many sites, including PartyPoker, immediately suspended business with U.S. gamblers, while others, including PokerStars, did not.
On December 27, 2009, PokerStars set the world record for the biggest online tournament. The tournament entry fee was $1, and the number of entrants reached 149,196. They broke that record on December 4, 2011, when 200,000 players played in a $1 buy-in tournament with a first prize of $50,000. PokerStars was so busy during the early stages of the tournament, all tournaments had to be stopped for 20 minutes because the heavy traffic crashed their servers. This record had been broken again on June 16, 2013, with 225,000 participants. The buy-in was $1 and went completely into the prize pool, with no rake.
In January 2012, PokerStars introduced a downloadable mobile client for iOS from iTunes. In February 2012, the company also introduced a client for Android.
On July 31, 2012, PokerStars bought its former competitor, Full Tilt Poker. The $731 million deal settled a civil lawsuit with the Department of Justice while giving ownership of Full Tilt Poker’s assets to PokerStars.
On June 12, 2014, The Stars Group, then known as Amaya Inc., agreed to buy PokerStars and its parent company for $4.9 billion in cash. The deal was completed on August 1, 2014.
As of April 6, 2016, they have reached an agreement with Netent to add desktop and mobile gambling games to its poker lobby in New Jersey and other locations.
In February 2017, Microgaming announced a partnership with PokerStars, owned by the parent company for the integration of its Quickfire platform.
In July 2017, PokerStars agreed to a deal with bankruptcy administrators to acquire some of rival PKR.com’s assets and in doing so will reimburse 60,000 PKR players 100% of their final balances.
In December 2017, PokerStars unveiled a brand new player tournament called the PokerStars Players No-Limit Hold’em Championship, which is to be held on January 2019. The tournament is expected to become one of the biggest events in the annual poker calendar with a twenty-five thousand dollar buy-in and a $1 million bonus for the eventual winner.
In March 2018, The Stars Group reached an agreement with gaming company Sugal & Damani to support the launch of its PokerStars brand in India.
In September 2018, PokerStars revealed PokerStars VR, a fully immersive virtual reality poker experience.
PokerStars offers a large number of poker variations: Texas hold ’em, Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo (8 or Better), Courchevel, Stud, Stud Hi/Lo (8 or Better), Razz, Five-card draw, 2-7 Triple Draw & 2-7 Single Draw, Badugi, HORSE, HOSE, Mixed Hold’em, Mixed Omaha Hi/Lo, Triple Stud and 8-Game Mix. PokerStars also offers “Mixed Games,” which rotate through several of these games.
PokerStars averages over 15,000 players playing real money cash games daily.
PokerStars launched Zoom Poker in March 2012, with an official launch on May 2012. Zoom Poker is a fast-fold ring game poker format where opponents change after every hand. The aim of Zoom poker is to offer players more hands of poker than in a regular ring game. In January 2013 PokerStars rolled out Zoom Poker Tournaments due to popular demand for the fast-fold variant.
The site’s weekly Sunday Million tournament has a guaranteed $1 million prize pool and a $215 buy-in. The Sunday Million is the biggest weekly online poker tournament. On March 7, 2011, The 5th Anniversary Sunday Million broke records, with 59,128 players creating a total prize pool of $11,825,600.
World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) has been running since 2002 and is regarded as the online equivalent of the World Series of Poker. The WCOOP tournament series is the largest online poker series and pays out the largest prizes in online poker. The WCOOP 2010 Main Event champion Tyson “POTTERPOKER” Marks won $2.2 Million, the largest online tournament prize in history.
Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) was established in 2009 and has since become the most popular online tournament series. Unlike WCOOP, there are three different buy-in stakes in the SCOOP events: Low, Medium (10x Low stake) and High (100x Low stake).
Micro Millions was launched in March 2012 as a tournament series designed for recreational and micro-stakes players offering a low buy-in tournament schedule and large guaranteed cash prizes. PokerStars guaranteed $5 million in prize pools for the second installment of MicroMillions.