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PokerStars Inc.
"Live Online PokerStars Game Play" PokerStars
Type Private company
Launch Date Beta play: September 11, 2011
Real Money play: December 12, 2001
Status active
Product Line Online Gambling
Platform Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows
Website http:/

PokerStars is the world's largest poker site and home of the World Championship of Online Poker [1]. There are two ways for players to dive right into online poker. The first is which allows one to download the client which is free software compatible with Windows/PC and Mac/Apple, create an account, and get started gambling with real money.[1] The other is which hosts free online gameplay with "play money" chips of no cash value [2].

According to Forbes magazine, PokerStars generates over $1.4 billion dollars in gross revenues, employs over 1,000 employees, and has nearly 50 million registered accounts as of 2012[3].


PokerStars was launched on September 11, 2011 by the Scheinberg family as a beta play money version only. Later in December, PokerStars implemented a money wagering site hosting live poker tournaments and tables for the public.[3]

In 2003, PokerStars gained a lot of attention as a rag to riches story developed for a person named Chris MoneyMaker. He entered a small $39 dollar satellite tournament in which he won. Then, moved to a larger satellite which allowed him to purchase the buy-in at the 2003 World Series of Poker. Eventually, he became the winner and had a large influence on increasing PokerStars's popularity and registered users.[3] His $2,500,000 winnings created a new industry at PokerStars for online poker which lead to a a booming market for online gamblers [4].

In 2005, after the tsunami, PokerStars raised up to nearly $400,000 dollars as a way for philanthropy and relief to those who suffered losses.[3]

In 2009, at the age of 21, Michigan native Joe Cada became the youngest winner of the World Series of Poker with a total winnings of $8.55 million dollars. Cada is a frequent user of PokerStars and prior to becoming the World Champion in poker, he became a representative of PokerStars. Along with Chris MoneyMaker, they have made advancements in the success of PokerStars interface [5].

Game Types

PokerStars offers an array of game types including:

These types are available for play money and cash value types. Players can engage in sit and go tournaments or cash tables and select any of these game types to start their online gambling experience. Ranges from $0.01/$0.02 to $1,000/$2,000 for cash tables or $0.01 to $5,000 for sit and go tournaments are offered [6].

Online Tournaments

PokerStars hosts the Sunday Million every week, which is the biggest weekly online poker tournament in the world. The game is No Limit Hold'em and has a guaranteed $1 million prize pool with a buy-in of $215. This tournament attracts an average field size of more than 7,000 of the best online poker players and is open to everyone. The first ever Sunday Million was held on March 5, 2006 and the 5,893 runners played for a pool prize of $1,178,600. The biggest Sunday Million was on March 6, 2011 and included 59,128 players. The tournament generated a total prize pool of $11,825,600. Some of the other tournaments offered at PokerStars are the Sunday Warm-Up, Sunday 500, Sunday Storm, and Sunday Rebuy [7].

PokerStars Ethics


Colluding interferes with the ethics of online gambling because it is the act of gaining an advantage through knowing other players cards or information at the current table the player is sitting. Colluding is the form of cheating when two or more players share information when they are seated at the same table [8]. PokerStars has security functions to try and catch deliberate acts of collusion. For example, detecting collusion is easy when people would normally not make a certain play with a hand when not colluding, but did during that one time. The ethics behind colluding are negative and make it hard to have online poker completely legitimate. However, it does not have a tremendous impact over the platform and PokerStars is successful in providing a mostly fair interface for online poker players. Colluding still does exist, but monitored and optimized to be kept at a minimum. [8]

Seat Selling

Seat selling is another form of cheating where players may get deep into tournaments and try to sell their seat to a different player in order to make a positive profit. The motive here is for a weaker player who gets deep into a tournament and realizes his skill is not as high as the surrounding players. The player would then pay a share of his winnings and sell his seat to a more highly skilled player to finish the tournament for the weaker player. Therefore, this is another issue monitored by PokerStars and is somewhat difficult to monitor.


Ghosting is a form of cheating where during a specific situation for a hand, a player would ask for outside help via instant messaging, chat, or any other form of communication. This is relatively difficult to prevent when it comes to online gambling since PokerStars does not have access to people's programs they use outside of PokerStars itself. This crosses computer ethics in online gambling because ideally, for a safe and legitimate playing environment, all the players would play individually with no external factors [9].

Multiple Accounts

Multiple accounts is a more severe form of cheating and is where one player has more than one account and uses it as an advantage. Players with multiple accounts tend to register both of them in the same tournament so that they can try out different strategies with both accounts and have a better chance at winning the tournament compared to the other players. This form of cheating is difficult to monitor and gives a significant advantage to players who utilize this method [9].


Some people have gotten creative and implemented bots to play for certain players. In one case, 10 bots were discovered and frozen after winning $58,000 and playing over 8 million hands. The evidence was clear after the bots had a unique betting pattern. After limping in, these bots would always fold after another player bets or raises, or go all-in if they had a good hand [10].


On April 15th, 2011, PokerStars and Full Tilt, two of the biggest online poker platforms, were shutdown in the United States due to the indictment of the site owners [11]. Real money gambling was suspended because of bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling in the United States. The U.S. Department of Justice ruled the 11 defendants guilty and were charged for four counts each of violation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, operation of an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy.[12] After the dreadful "Black Friday", PokerStars lost about 40% of its players, going from about an average of 33,000 players daily to 20,000[13] One year after, PokerStars is still manage to keep thriving with an average of 24,200 players a day[13]. Other sites worth mentioning have been able to thrive after the fall of PokerStars in the United States such as 888, Zoom Poker, and Party Poker[13].

Future of Online Gambling Ethics

These methods of cheating provide difficulty for ethics in online gambling as players who use this have a risk/reward type of opportunity as PokerStars has an active community, yet still not free from cheating. Ideally, people would play individually and attempt to win as much as they can and have it either as a form of entertainment or a career. With these forms of cheating, it makes it difficult for every player to follow the rules and the ethics of online gambling. Thus, players will cheat to win more and gain an advantage, but if caught, PokerStars enforces severe penalties such as account deactivation and disqualifications from the tournament [9].

Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction is when an individual cannot stop gambling despite having negative impacts on their or their loved ones, even in the face of legal or financial troubles[14]. Since PokerStar is online, its convenience and easy accessibility can lead to addiction within its users or further fuel an already addicts addiction. In many cases, gambling addiction comes with many negative impacts such as the loss of jobs, debt and negative impacts on relationships. There are also many mental issues that people who suffer from this form of addiction deal with like depression, anxiety and mood disorders [15]

See Also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Download Site
  2. Online Play
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 History of PokerStars - When PokerStars Started
  5. Collison, Brett Joe Cada: Player Profile Retrieved Oct 10, 2012
  6. Game Types
  7. Sunday Million
  8. 8.0 8.1 Security
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Angerman, Aaron Is There Any Online Integrity?
  10. Bot Ring Discovered on PokerStars
  11. Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars Ban USA Real Money Play
  12. September 1, 2011. Leslie Radue. PokerStars + Full TIlt Poker Ban USA
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 October 10, 2012. Matthew Showell. Who's Thriving One year After Black Friday
  14. Dell, Lynn J., et al. “Personality and Other Factors Associated with the Gambling Addiction.” International Journal of the Addictions, vol. 16, no. 1, 1981, pp. 149–156., doi:10.3109/10826088109038817.
  15. “Negative Effects of Gambling Addiction.” The Oaks at La Paloma Treatment Center.

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