Is PokerStars a Scam or Legit?

Is PokerStars a Scam or Legit?

Since 2001, PokerStars has been among the most prominent online poker brands. The company was one of the driving factors in the meteoric success of its young industry, and always offered strong security measures and customer support.

PokerStars had a strong reputation ten years ago, but that all began to change in late 2006 when the U.S. passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. This act made it illegal for PokerStars to accept US players and illegal for US banks to process payments related to online poker.

The biggest online poker site in the world at the time, PartyPoker, immediately accepted and followed this new US law, and left the USA market. PokerStars, however, disregarded the US government and continued to operate in the US. We feel this choice started PokerStars down a road of shadiness which leads us to our opinion today – that PokerStars is a scam.

PokerStars realized it was breaking US law by continuing to accept US players and eventually abandoned the US market. The company lost a lot of money and a significant portion of its customer base.

About PokerStars

PokerStars has been in business for over 15 years. Although the company started as a play-money service only, the focus has been on real-money poker for more than a decade. After neglecting the USA UIEGEA law of 2006, the company reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice in 2012. This settlement allowed PokerStars to return to the U.S. – in Nevada and New Jersey – which had legalized online gambling.

On April 15, 2011, the Department of Justice seized the domain name, along with and several others. On April 20, the and domain names were returned for the purpose of helping to facilitate the withdrawal of US players’ funds.

PokerStars was forced to leave the US market at this time.

Prior to the seizure, PokerStars could not legally provide service to U.S. residents, but they continued to for a time because it was profitable and because that law was difficult to enforce with them operating entirely outside the United States. The company is located in the Isle of Man and acquired a European Union gambling license through Malta.

Is PokerStars Rigged?

The most concerning question about PokerStars is whether the service is rigged. Admittedly, there is some compelling video evidence on YouTube of sponsored PokerStars players beating the odds on multiple occasions during a number of big events. PokerStars spends a lot of money on its sponsorships, and it behooves the brand to have these professional players be successful. The nature of online play, however, is that it is more difficult for a pro player to be consistently successful. Therefore, PokerStars has motivation, and the company has chosen to ignore rather than dispute the video evidence.

Keep in mind that PokerStars has no incentive to rig poker games outside of sponsored play. The revenues that PokerStars earns is based on the total pot no matter who wins it. In addition, VIP rewards are earned based on the amount staked not the amount won or lost. For that reason, it is very difficult to believe that PokerStars would rig games on a regular basis, and there is no concrete proof to suggest that PokerStars has done so.

In the end, there are a lot of conspiracy theories surrounding rigged games and rigged decks, but overall it’s difficult to believe that PokerStars would actually fix the deck or the dealing of cards… but you never know.

Data Analysis and Breach of Privacy

It is worth noting that there were at least two independent analyses of the PokerStars dealer mechanism that presented data outside the norm. For some, this data was evidence that PokerStars was rigging standard games or at least that the dealer mechanism was not random.

PokerStars did react to this story by providing these studies with more comprehensive data sets to work with. In doing so, PokerStars breached the privacy contract with its players. Although user names were stripped, hand logs are publicly available, and it is possible to associate individual players with the released data.

Does PokerStars Cheat Players?

A much bigger concern of whether PokerStars games are rigged is whether the company is actually cheating players out of winnings. A quick search online will reveal a sharp increase in the last several years of players making complaints about having their accounts seized, bankrolls reduced when making a withdrawal, withdrawals refused, bonuses voided for no reason and so forth.

PokerStars turns a profit on every real-money player no matter how much he or she wins. Nevertheless, there is incentive to be even more profitable in a highly competitive market, and PokerStars would not be the first online gambling service to increase profits by exploiting consumers.

PokerStars does not want money leaving the system, so players that earn profits and routinely withdraw cash from the site are not good for the site.

In fact, PokerStars purchased Full Tilt Poker and continues to manage and operate this brand – a brand that is synonymous with the term ponzi scheme. Full Tilt Poker had rampant cheating going – and this is a fact. Directors of the company took money directly from players’ accounts and purchased homes, cars, jewelry, and more.

To this day, countless players and business partners are owed money from Full Tilt. PokerStars did not fully satisfy these commitments even though they now own and are responsible for the Full Tilt brand.

Better Business Bureau

Another point of concern for poker players considering PokerStars is that the company has never received accreditation from the Better Business Bureau. This was true prior to the UIGEA, and it is true even now in the states where the brand has a legal presence.

The BBB does track international companies, however, and although it has not accredited or rated PokerStars, it does have a file for the company in nearly every state. There are a significant number of complaints on file, and we urge everyone to check with their local BBB to consider local experiences with the PokerStars brand.

Is PokerStars Trustworthy?

The most egregious act destroying any remaining goodwill PokerStars may have had came very recently. On May 1, 2015, PokerStars sent an email to its online marketing partners drastically changing the terms of their agreements, causing significant damage to all of their Internet partners for their own benefit.

Marketing partners of PokerStars had an agreement – that they would receive a certain percentage of the revenues that PokerStars earned off players referred by that partner. And that revenue share plan would persist for the life of the player.

On May 1, 2015, PokerStars unilaterally changed the terms to only compensate their marketing partners for only two years.


What this means is that marketing partners that have been supporting and promoting PokerStars for years and years will lose all revenues from those players. They will only get compensated for players from the past 2 years. For partners that have been sending PokerStars traffic for over a decade, built up a sizable database of players, and developed those players, will lose 90-95% of their marketing revenues.

Basically, this is a breach of contract and PokerStars is more than willing to completely screw their partners.

You can read the full email below:

Email from PokerStars


If PokerStars is willing to do this to their business partners, then what are they willing to do to their players?

If you win a big tournament, what prevents PokerStars from immediately changing their terms to not pay you out?! NOTHING.

We believe that all of these poor decisions stemmed from the fact that PokerStars decided to break US law by continuing to offer their services to Americans.

Because PokerStars broke US law, they had to pay huge fines to the US Department of Justice. PokerStars paid $731 million to the US government to settle the charges of bank fraud and evading US restrictions on online poker.

PokerStars was guilty – and when online poker became legalized in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, with the potential of California coming next, some laws had a bad actor clause – which disallowed PokerStars from entering the market since they were illegally operating in the US previously.

Amaya Only Cares About Its Bottom Line

Associating with the owners – the Scheinbergs – prevented PokerStars from entering US markets, which eventually led to the sale of PokerStars to Amaya. And this new change of ownership has led to the issues we see today. Amaya does not care about the players or the business partners of PokerStars.

Amaya added a 2.5% foreign currency transaction fee when depositing or withdrawing funds into PokerStars. And it did this WITHOUT NOTIFYING ANY OF ITS PLAYERS. This was just an added tax to increase Amaya’s bottom line.

Amaya increased the rake at PokerStars in late 2014! Rakes were increased on cash games, mtt’s, sit-n-go’s… basically everywhere. Again, this is another tax added to increase Amaya’s bottom line at the expense of the customer base.

And the final straw is Amaya’s destruction of it’s partnership agreements – changing their compensation from the life of the player to two years is utterly devastating to their list of long-established and trusted marketing partners.

If you do business on the Internet or play online poker, you simply can’t trust Amaya. Sorry, but we have to call it. PokerStars is a scam.

We understand that PokerStars is the biggest poker site on the Internet, but we think that will eventually change. Too many corporate decisions are hurting the brand, partners, and customers. We see the landscape shifting, but please let us know what you think below!

One brand we know we can trust for at least UK and Europeans is William Hill Poker. Will Hill is one the oldest and most prestigious names in gaming. Read more about William Hill Poker here. Register with your choice of William Hill promo codes for big welcome bonuses.

We also recommend Ladbrokes Poker and bet365 Poker.

Find reviews of additional online poker sites at and

For US players, it’s a little more difficult, you have much less options. However, the biggest brand in online poker in the USA is Bovada Poker. We believe that Bovada Poker is legit. There are issues that you need to be aware of – such as the fees associated with depositing/withdrawing, the time frames and limitations of processing a withdrawal, etc. But considering the options for Americans, it’s about as good as you can get. Here’s a decent Bovada Poker review worth checking out if you’re interested. And a review of the Bovada Mobile Sports features here.

Legalized online poker by state is coming to fruition. Learn about online poker in New Jersey and California at Poker In and California Poker.CA.

For other alternatives, please visit

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 43 reviews
by william white on PokerStars Review
They Cheat

The bad beats that happen in big play money tourneys is astoundingly bad. I play at local casinos and have never witnessed what I see on poker stars. I will never, ever deposit another single cent with these crooks. I believe that many of the "players" I have been up against are in fact bots. I have tried communicating with them and get no response. You are totally correct in calling them a scam and I'm done with them.

by cassiebelcher on PokerStars Review

I have purchased approximately Three thousand USA dollars to buy play chips at poker stars in the last 2 years ,as of right now I have less than 10 million in play chips .It's always 1 bad beat after another ,or really bad cards winning against my good cards . I have e_mailed play poker about all the losin ,& the fact I am no where near having an account there even after spending three thousand dollars to have an acctount ,in facxt after each time I e_mail them I lose more ,so I've stopped that .My husband had an acct, there & was same thing with him as with me ,he threatened to call our attorney General here in our state ,& poker staRS CLOSED HIS ACCT . So I now know that there's nothing I can do about this ,I know i'm addicted & they also know i'm addicted ,but enjoyed reading what you have written here .Thank you .

by callmeSmedley on PokerStars Review
poker Stars dealing software

There is no way that a shuffled deck of cards could ever deal so many repetitive cards as they do at PS. Every time I play at PS I notice that I'm getting a certain card over and over again. This has bugged me for a long time. One sitting it will be something like 3s for example. I will get a 3 in my hand over and over to the point that it would be impossible to do with a real shuffled deck. Next sitting it might be Ks or Qs but it's always way too many to be a legitimate deal. It's like 6 0r 7 out of 10 hands with the same numeric card repeating in hand No way is that a legit deal. The dealing software sucks balls and I'm hereby done with PS.

by Unanonymous on PokerStars Review
Scam for sure!

It is just for sure a scam. I was doing pretty good in big tournaments 4000-10000 players. I won 2, 2nd 2 times and final table maybe 10 times between january-april.Low stakes, buy in 3,3-7,5$. Then i started playing spin&go´s. There is just far too many action flops... its 3 max tables, but i havent even seen so much full houses, straight´s and flushes at the same time in 9 max tables. I made complaint about this issue to pokerstars with calculations. After that it was inpossible for me to win anything anymore. I just would like those criminals out of business. I think its purpose is just to make a lot of andrenalin rush and that way to keep people playing. I study really hard to become full time poker player, but these scammers ruin it.

by average joe on PokerStars Review
Pokerstars is a scam

Pokerstars is nothing but a joke. They are clearly rigged, and I would stake my life on it. I will not, however, stake any money with the scam site that is Pokerstars. If you play enough poker- which I have- you know when something is not right. The cards,or deal, or "random" number generator, whatever you want to call it, are not random in any way. I have suffered too many ridiculous beats- many in a row, many for days on end, to believe the site is nothing but a cheating, swindling scam. I will never play there again, and I truly hope they get their sorry asses shut down.

by Bo Henriksen on PokerStars Review
The biggest heist ever!

Pokerstars is rigged, thats a fact! - Amaya CEO David Baazov Faces Five Charges of Insider Trading and my best bet is that when the EU gaming commission realize that European gaming industry is losing a lot to those corrupted players on the market, they will shut down the entire operation. Pokerstars will be remembered as the worst within the gambling industry soon.

My advice is, do not deposit or play there. You will NOT win. They'll make sure you lose .. A LOT.

Pokerstars is rigged, I'm a pro and have been playing for 15 years online I see the difference. Its not that a lot of bad players causes the beats, the bad players does not make $1K + buy ins where I play.

by Shaun on PokerStars Review
Unregulated, Unaudited, 0 legitimacy.

As the title suggests. Same company that's unregulated, (Cigital does not count) running the decks. It's not fully audited, only a very small portion of what they handed in and its offshore in tax evasion areas. Sorry but the amounts of people complaining isn't a coincidence. Its a scam site. Steer clear. Just look into players 'InDaNuts' and the bots controversy to see its not a fair game.

by Martin Legger on PokerStars Review
THe definition of scam

I am a professional poker player, yesterday I won a national live tournament, £150k. But it doesn't matter at all. However I am not able to win constantly with Pokerstars because of the numerous bad beats they are dealing. Last time I played I left a tournament after a "pro" shoved with pocket 2 against my pocket K and he got a straight on the river. It was a $210 buy in Tournament, I was in the bubble.. Never mind, this things are happening live as well but not this crazy often.

Pokerstars is by far a huge internet fraud and Amaya owners shall be asked questions in court. They claim that you have equality of chances but the fraud happens on different bet sizing. For example is very likely that they will take you down when you bet big once, and keep you in the game on small pots.

Ponzi Scheme

I made a deposit of $20 about a week ago, played down to $13, then I came back the next day and I had $33. My cashier history said there was a $20 purchase, but I had never been on the site since being at $13. I emailed them and got no response so I figured I'd just withdraw the money. I then chopped a small tourney for $63, played a tourney and had a balance of $85. When I tried to make a withdraw, they said I had to wait for the deposit to clear (with I never authorized or requested in the first place). The next day I log on and my account is at $105. You guessed it, another "Purchase" when I had yet to log on that day. I am still waiting on the email response from them. It seems like they are planning on going bankrupt with as much of NJ money as possible. DO NOT GIVE THEM YOUR ACCOUNT INFO. YOU CAN NOT MAKE WITHDRAWS AND THEY KEEP CHARGING WITHOUT PERMISSION.

by laura on PokerStars Review

Hi just had another night of bad beats on poker stars. I smashed my other laptop up becasuse i couldnt control my temper because of that site. Its when you deposit cash it seems to shit on you more so as you deposit more. I was in a tournament with 90 people left. for top prize of 2.5k, i was chip leader and had poket kings when a player went all in with kq. So i called and low and behold 2 queens come up and takes half my stack. Next hand i have AK an flop 2 pair so go all in. And get called by someone with pocket 8s and you guessed it the river comes up with and 8. I was then down to 4k chips and thought my luck in when next hand i get delt pocket queens and 2 players go all in one with aj and other with pocket 7. And the flop comes q 5 9 so i smilled and thought my luck had changed but not on jokerstars a king then an ace came out and gave the player a straight. What do you need to do on this joke site to win!!! Ive done nothing wrong and always get punished by the site and it helps bad players. Well i wont be back on this time and i advise everyone stop waisting your money on joker stars its a con!!!

by Damon on PokerStars Review
PS total scam

Pokerstars is without doubt a total and absolute scam.
Do not play this site. You will get robbed. Mathmatical odds and probabilities never lie. .. Over the course of 5 years i have collated info on Pokerstars. Nothing stacks up except an extraordinay consistent highly inprobable algor8ythm that 9can only have been designed for one purpose.... To relieve you of yout money......


i lost the plot on the site after winning 2 decent prizes in a row.. 2 final tables. i withdrew surprise surprise and then after that i couldnt get going in any tourny. after reading some comments behind me i cant help but thnink why i couldnt win after withdrawing....... example is losing 6/7 times all in pre flop with AA vs AK and underpairs.
but anyway, i sent them an email and said to them i wanted them to get a full audit of their site to prove they arent rigging the deck after they shuffle ( i knew they shuffled the deck, but not what they do after the shuffle ) and eventually they suspended my acount.. seems i may have struck a nerve with them.
they told me i have to agree to the terms of service before i can play again... but they havnt responded to my emails accepting the terms, this has been 2 days now.
i had a look at the tournys i really tried at and worked out rougly i was giving my opponents 30% for all my critical all ins, yep, and losing 80%+. its beyond me howe this can be. and its been going on for years ffs!
i cant recall the last time i had that feeling of running true... never mind running good!
this needs to be taken to the political level were we can encourage support for a full online poker audit. we are clearly being scammed in one way or another.

by david ingress on PokerStars Review
would a real person do this ?

Over Easter I played on Pokerstars several times ... In two tournaments ... NL Turbo Knockout .. 9 players ...
I reached the final table ... and then ... Heads Up ...
The first tournament ... dealt AJ ... so I went "all in" ... a bet of approx 8,000 ... my opposition called:
9 - 6 off suit .... made the straight !
The next tournament ... AK ... again "all in"
Again the opposition called
5 - 8 off suit ... made two pair
I am not asking the odds of this happening
I am asking:
Would any "real poker playing person", on the final table, heads-up, call an "all in" bet with:
9-6 or 5-8
I can not believe that in a "Cash" game, someone who was capable of "Heads Up" on the Final table would ever make such a call !!!!!!!
Yet it happened twice to me with different players
Sorry, but that makes me feel that something is wrong

by Cholack on PokerStars Review

PokerStars used to be a pretty good practice site. I keep my own hand histories and while you can still practice there, i'veseen a shift since they started selling play money chips. It benefits them to move players who are still playing with chips they earned prior to play chip selling over to paying customers. And they do this by making you lose your play money chips. Then you have to buy play money chips in order to play. That's their goal.

Can you smell it? Yes, it's Jokerstars

1 - Who keeps his source code hidden by everyone?
I mean ofcourse you HAVE to hide it if it is like a video game or generally a program that does something complicated and you don't want anyone to make a replica of it and sell it, but with poker clients, it is different. Pokerstars doesn't make money BECAUSE of the pokerstars client but rather because of the poker itself, so why hide the source code? Of course maybe you believe people preffer pokerstars because of the beauty of its interface and I am willing to accept that, but at least they should show the RNG part that "decides" the cards, and not have it approved by shady 3rd party companies like they say in their site.
2 - Who really CAN'T see the action flop phenomenon everyone is talking about?
I have played live and the amount of players that connect with a particular flop on a 9-seat table on pokerstars is simply incredibly high. It happens A LOT. For example you can slowplay trips in live poker because you know it is highly unlikely they will improve more than you, I mean it's a legit tactic, but you can't do that on Pokerstars, if you flop trips you must bet big, go all-in or raise big because if you wait it's likely that you will lose the pot eventually to something crazy. In live poker I get many times frustrating because I can't hit a flop or something but that never happens on Pokerstars,I hit many times but many times I have just the worst "hit".

by Kristian M Sørensen on PokerStars Review

Something is definitely going on, on pokerstars,, I am sick and tired of dedicating my time and life to theese scamsters, manipulating with my mind and pokerabilities,, its so amazing how many times i`ve experienced loosing with AA or KK etc. The underdogs are highly favourised and wins often,, the setups are continously unbelievable,,, i have the exats same experinces after cashout i begin to loose,, its stunning how often people report about this,,,, im not in a fkkn doubt anymore,,,, god damn scamsters earning so much money allready,,,

by da maine on PokerStars Review
its rigged

AFter absolute poker was caught being given the players whole cards from the security team lovation that were workers of absolute its killed the integrity of online poker. LIke they are the only site doing that. I have seen workers sit on tables on other sites with their own id names trying to see if the other heads up player is only playing fish. Sitting 100 bbs. Its pretty amazing anyone thinks they are getitng a fair game. Those guys winning millions of dollars probably have some software that helps them see the cards. The beats are way too many 2 and 3 outters and then our 15 outters keep missing. Its too fishy for me. If anyone thinks its not rigged they will know it is within a few years. Play at the casino dont play online.

thumbs up

i have NO problems what so ever with poker stars! they are courteous and helpful .and my money is in my bank account within 4 days .so i don't know what everybody is talking about ! thumbs up pokerstars .

I was just about to join, lol

I've been an online bullshit gambler for a few years and was considering real $$$ , with these crooks, lol , thanks for the heads up, I enjoy gambling, win or lose, I like to win mind you, most of all I demand it be fair game, no cheating. Cheers, thanx again .

by harvell on PokerStars Review
pokers tars needs to be shut down

POKERSTARS will put every obstacle in your path to prevent you withdrawing any funds, should you miraculously win. The communication is abhorrent and you will be left extremely disappointed. It's fraudulent. People must report their experiences to warn others.

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