PokerStars Launches Second Power Up Alpha
PokerStars has launched its second public alpha testing of a bonkers new poker game called Power Up. The game, which had its first public alpha in February, is Hold’em at its core, but adds the ability for players to essentially cheat via cards that grant them powers.
Of course, when players use said powers, they aren’t actually cheating, as all of it is completely within the rules of the game. But it flies so hard in the face of traditional poker that it feels like cheating and is something that will make poker purists vomit all over their laptops (if poker purists even play online poker). But you know what, it’s fun! Sure, it’s not “normal” poker, but most of us play poker to have fun, so why not mix things up?
Power Up games at the moment are three-handed, Texas Hold’em Sit-and-Go’s with the winner taking the entire prize pool. Games play as any hold’em tourney would, with all the normal betting streets and what-not. In fact, if nobody uses any powers, a hand can look just like any other poker hand.
But it is the powers that change everything. Literally. At the start of the game, each player is give three Power cards, which remain hidden to the other players. These powers can be used at any point during a player’s turn, before the player acts. Each power comes with an “energy” cost, anywhere from two to five energy points. Every player receives 10 energy points to begin and receives two more at the outset of each hand up to a maximum of 20 energy points.
A player may use as many of their power cards as they wish per turn, provided they have enough energy to do so.
The powers are as follows:
- Clone: receive a copy of the last power played this hand (2 energy)
- Disintegrate: destroy a targeted card dealt on this street (4 energy)
- EMP: prevent powers on this street (3 energy – reduced from 4, which is still shown on PokerStars’ site)
- Engineer: choose the deck’s next card from three options (5 energy)
- Intel: view the deck’s top card for the rest of the hand (3 energy)
- Reload: redraw selected hole cards (5 energy)
- Scanner: view the top two cards in the deck and discard them if desired (4 energy)
- Upgrade: draw a third hole card, discarding one (5 energy)
- X-Ray: force all opponents to reveal one randomly selected card (2 energy)
If player has fewer than three power cards, he will be dealt a new card when the next hand starts; players can only have three power cards max. Players cannot have duplicate powers.
And that’s really it. Power Up piles strategy on top of strategy. You still have to employ your normal poker smarts, but now you have to strategize how to use your powers. And with the use of powers comes new information during the hand, which can actually lead to all sorts of new bluffing and multi-level thinking opportunities. Did my opponent who used the Scanner power go all-in because he knows the upcoming cards will help him, or is he trying to make me think that? Do I want to Disintegrate a flop card, or will that give away what I have?
It is a very interesting game and though it clearly messes with poker tradition, it seems like something that could find a place in the online poker world.
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