Welcome to the gamification of online poker. In a creative move to attract new players and tap into the massive pool of global gamers, PokerStars launched a real-money version Power Up, a newly tweaked format of your favorite past time. If anything, PokerStars Power Up resembles a distant cousin of Hearthstone with specialty power cards that allow you to alter the course of action. Ever want to rabbit hunt the next card in the deck, or do you wish you had X-ray vision and could see one of your opponents' hold cards? Well, now you can do some of those other-worldy things in PokerStars Power Up.
Welcome to the future of poker! At the least, the latest incarnation of online poker is set in the future. The date is 2047 and in this newly formed gambling universe, Power Up is the new rage among gamers.
According to a PR blast, "PokerStars Power Up is now live in .EU and will roll out across .NET, .COM and .UK sites throughout the week." If you don't know how it works, PokerStars Power Up is played via a traditional Sit & Go format, but with only three players. The current stakes or buy-in is set at $1, $3, $7 and/or $15. The basis is Texas Hold'em but with several tweaks and advantage cards."
According to Severin Rasset, Director of Poker Innovation and Operations at PokerStars, "Since the game's inception, we've been eagerly anticipating this moment and it's finally here. The team have worked incredibly hard to produce a brand-new game which, by utilizing our custom engine, delivers incredible mechanics and an engaging universe. We are immensely proud of this major innovation to poker and we hope our players love it as much as we do."
The main element to PokerStars Power Up are the power cards. PokerStars will supposedly add new power cards in the future, but for the moment, there are nine special powers and abilities. For now, there are nine powers with different abilities. The power cards cost anywhere from 2 to 5 energy points, which you accumulate with every hand you play. Players start with three power cards and you are allowed maximum three per hand.
- CLONE: Copy the previous power card played
- EMP: Prevents other players from using powers (on that street)
- ENGINEER: Choose the next card in the deck from three options
- INTEL: View the deck's top card for the rest of the hand
- SCANNER: View the top two cards in the deck, then choose to keep/discard
- UPGRADE: Draw a third card preflop, then discard one
- X-RAY: Force all opponents to expose one hole card
Energy is an important aspect to this game, which you accumulate with every hand you play. All power cards require energy ranging from 2 to 5. Your energy will be tracked from a yellow number next to your avatar. If you do not bank enough energy, then you will not be able to use a specific card. All players start with the same energy amount. There is a maxinum on energy, but you can replenish your energy as the game progresses. If you run out of energy, you have to wait to replenish. The X-RAY and CLONE cost the fewest amount of energy at 2 each. While the most expensive cost 5 energy: UPGRADE, RELOAD, and ENGINEER.
- 2: X-RAY, CLONE
- 3: INTEL, EMP
- 4: SCANNER, DISINTEGRATE
- 5: UPGRADE, RELOAD, ENGINEER
Yes, in case you were wondering... PokerStars Power Up offers all-in protections. According to PokerStars rules, "When a player goes all-in for their entire stack, any existing board cards are locked and may not be targeted or affected by powers." That means you do not have to worry about anyone using DISINTEGRATE power against you.
All great video games have a backstory. And Power Up is no exception. This format is set in the year 2047 A.D. in a dystopian-like future. You have a choice from 14 different players/avatars. Everyone has their own special power and weakness.
Those 14 avs are cleverly named: Juan Dvorak, Lance Tunk, Arlo Shank, Shayu Jyn, Trent Pnuknoe, Net Postive, Murray Hoarsebark, Hitch Reider, Billy Kovak, Sora Hamada, Mandrill, Queenie Dear, Miles Legend and Charlotte.
Each avatar comes from a different "nation: and has different playing styles, strengths, and weaknesses. For example, Miles Legend hails from Sophisticates nation and he's "The Showman" as far as playing styles go. His strengths are "intimidatingly good", while his obvious weakness is "arrogance."