PokerStars has caught a lot of flak from pockets of the poker community during the past couple years. Some people see the company scrimping and cutting costs wherever it can. But this certainly isn’t true when it comes to product development.
There have been successes, like Spin & Go’s. There have also been failures, like Duel. The jury is still out on some products, like Beat The Clock.
And now there is a new entry, and it may very well be PokerStars’ most ambitious effort to date.
PokerStars and Power Up
On PokerStars’ corporate blog, Director of Poker Innovation and Operations Séverin Rasset unveiled a new game, Power Up.
In his post, Rasset described Power Up thusly:
“It’s a combination of traditional enjoyable No Limit Hold’em injected with powers that give players the ability to influence how hands play out and change up game play in a variety of ways with boards, cards and chips.
This project introduces a lot of new features to poker that we have built from scratch, and it’s taken a lot of time and effort to get to this stage in the game’s life. We balanced the game for six months in a sandbox environment with a group of very high volume experienced poker players and gamers to attempt to break the game in every possible way.”
From the post, it appears Power Up is a three-person game, likely using some form of tournament structure and random seating function.
As noted in Rasset’s description, the game features a number of Power Up cards that allow players to perform a wide range of special actions.
Right now, a select group of American play-money players are alpha-testing Power Up.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before…
If the basic premise of Power Up is ringing a bell, it’s probably because it shares a lot of similarities with Alex Dreyfus’ Holdem X game, which he debuted in 2016.
The poker community noticed the similarities between the two products. That included Dreyfus:
Interesting new poker format being alpha-tested by Pokerstars. Obviously inspired by HoldemX. https://t.co/xMQYmOO4Mw
— GTOpenguin (@ArtySmokesPS) February 14, 2017
— Earl Raab (@My_NameAintEarl) February 14, 2017
Or HoldemX for that matter. https://t.co/GhJVUkQCbJ
— Kevin Mathers (@Kevmath) February 14, 2017
— Alexandre Dreyfus (@alex_dreyfus) February 14, 2017
See some of the similarities by viewing each company’s promotional video — PokerStars’ from this month and HoldemX’s from 2016:
Structurally, the games are similar, but in execution it looks like Power Up is well ahead of Holdem X. The refined look would seem to indicate that it (unsurprisingly) has a bit more money behind it. This likely means the two products were created on parallel tracks even though Holdem X was first to market by 12 months.
Will it catch on?
I was a big fan of Holdem X when it first came out last year.
The game had some structural issues (some of the cards seemed too powerful). The software itself needed a bit of a makeover and updating, but I was impressed with and enjoyed the general concept.
Based on the promotional material and the early looks, Power Up also looks like a game I would enjoy playing.
That being said, other products I’ve liked (including Holdem X) haven’t always caught on within the poker community. But, I can definitely see how Power Up might appeal to non-poker players.
Depending on how it’s marketed and packaged, Power Up might appeal to people who enjoy skill-based games and see Power Up not as a new poker variant, but as a game based on poker.