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We study mode competition in optically pumped lasers with one active laser line. The stability of single-mode operation under one mode pumping (both fields arbitrarily intense) is determined by calculating the saturated laser gain using either a mono- or bichromatic probe. The probe spectra differ dramatically from the single-mode, intense field gain curves occasionally exploited in this context in earlier works. Some features in the spectra are interpreted with the dressed atom picture. The mathematically simpler single probe gain is shown to be a good approximation for large mode spacings. When the strong field induced Rabi flipping is comparable to the mode spacing, however, a bichromatic probe containing two frequencies which are symmetric with respect to the intense mode is usually needed. Typical mono- and bichromatic probe spectra are discussed and parameter regions are explored which give stable single-mode operation. The results are also relevant in general laser instability studies: some aspects due to the strong field induced coherences will be pointed out.