PokerStars Power Up

PokerStars Launches Real Money Power Up Games

Awwww yeaahhh…after only being able to player Power Up on PokerStars for play money in short spurts as the world’s online poker room had the game in and out of the lobby during public Alpha testing for the last few months, players are now able to compete in the new, wacked-out poker game for real money. It should be ready to go right now for those on the .EU site, while everyone else should have it “very soon.”

We’ve talked about the game on more than one occasion here and we will give a rundown of it again, but one thing I found interesting with the rollout today is that the PokerStars team actually came up with a storyline for Power Up, like video game developers often do to get the player more emotionally invested in the game. From the PokerStars blog, Power Up is a 2047 poker development:

Clean and renewable energy abounds, bioengineers have eliminated world hunger and the world remains connected at all times through Continuous Presence. However human nature demands competition which is satisfied through intellectual sport. The biggest of all of these, is Power Up. Key to its success and dominance are the nine powers, which require new strategies and approaches to be learnt to master the tactics for success.

Ok. So the (not really that distant) future is awesome, except for poker, apparently. Poker needs to be souped up and that’s where Power Up comes in.

Using a Disintegrate Power in PokerStars Power Up

I don’t think I talked about this previously, and if I did, it was only in passing, but PokerStars really went all-out on Power Up, developing a new poker engine, complete with new graphics, animations, and sound. Even the new player avatars have character names and bios. For instance, the alien-looking avatar, “Net Positive,” plays in a “Logical Regimented” style and his weakness is “Illogical Players.” A veritable Sheldon Cooper, that one.

As another example, “Arlo Shank” seems to be the Donald Trump of the group with a play style of “Uses Chips Often,” and strength of “Extremely Bluffer.” Yes, that is written correctly. His weakness is “Noisy, Busy Tables.”

“Since the game’s inception, we’ve been eagerly anticipating this moment and it’s finally here,” said Severin Rasset, Director of Poker Innovation and Operations, on the PokerStars blog. “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.”

As I wrote not too long ago, I gave Power Up a shot (on the .NET client because I’m in the U.S. and am not privileged enough to have access to real PokerStars) and it was quite fun, a very enjoyable change-of-pace from regular poker.

The base game is just a three-handed Sit-and-Go with blinds that increase quickly and the entire prize pool going to the winner. But the quirkiness comes in with the “powers” that players can use. These powers allow players to essentially do all the cheating we have all dreamed of doing, yet completely within the rules. With powers, you can do things like change out a hole card, see your opponents’ hole cards, or see the next two cards to be dealt.

Each player is given two power cards to begin the match, unseen by the other players, like hole cards (the Power Up site says everyone gets three, but the .NET client has it at two, which was a recent change in the Alpha testing – if it really is three, just go with it, as it really doesn’t matter). After each hand, if a player has fewer than three power cards in his hand, he is given another.

Each power costs a certain amount of “energy” to use; that energy figure is shown on the card and can range from two to five. Players begin the game with 10 energy and receive 2 additional energy after each hand, up to a maximum of 15 energy. Players are allowed to use all, none, or some of their powers when it is their turn to act, as long as they have enough energy, of course. Thus, energy economy can play a factor in a match.

The list of powers is as follows:

Clone: receive a copy of the last power played this hand (2 energy)
Disintegrate: choose a card to destroy that was dealt on the current street (4 energy)
EMP: prevent the use of additional powers on this street (3 energy)
Engineer: choose the deck’s next card from three options – everyone can see which card is chosen (5 energy)
Intel: view the deck’s top card for the rest of the hand (3 energy)
Reload: select either or both hole cards to re-draw (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 – everyone can see this card, not just the person who plays the power (2 energy)

If a player move all-in, the cards currently on the board are locked, so nobody can use a power that can change them. Other powers can be used, though, as long as they don’t affects community cards that are already in place.

Power Up games are available in $1, $3, $7, and $15 buy-ins.

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