Power Up Poker has officially launched for real money competition on the world’s largest poker site, PokerStars.

The card game that combines elements of traditional poker with more modern eSports-leaning games such as Hearthstone experienced some initial hiccups at launch, but has since become available to the site’s Rest of World market.

This in turn has provided veteran online poker players with an opportunity to give their thoughts on Power Up. Following are some of the early returns from contributors of the largest poker forum, TwoPlusTwo. For our readers who would like to join-in on the discussion as it happens, you can do so by going directly to the official 2+2 Power Up Poker Thread and starting roughly at Post #201 for post-launch feedback.

Solid, Fun Gameplay with Multiple Strategy Layers

According to 2+2 member djz — who spent an hour of his time watching the game being played recently — Power Up Poker appears to be “extremely fun” despite his initial skepticism of the format. “The power-ups are really well-designed and managing your energy/resources adds a whole dimension of strategy,” stated the Old Hand poster.

Tutejszy opined that “powers add A LOT of depth. I play poker for a living (and am decent at Hearthstone), but I’m barely even able to grasp all the strategic implications and in general what is happening.” That insight bodes well for the world’s largest poker site in terms of innovation. Tutejszy also believes that the edges enjoyed by for-profit players “will be HUGE” to begin with as new players try out the format and gain experience to grasp its inner workings.

In a throwback to how strategy elements of traditional online poker games such as No Limit Hold’em used to be discussed on public boards, Morphismus (who has contributed over 14,000 posts since joining the forum in early 2008) gave the impression of being pleasantly surprised by learning new facets of Power Up Poker.

“I played quite a few in the only-playmoney phase and figured out stuff like using the Engineer + Reload combos, but only today I learned the hard way how strong an X-ray + Disintegrate combo can be,” he said.

PokerStars Rake Remains Steep

A newer member who goes by the online handle Md12 inquired about the commission fees that PokerStars is charging its real money players to compete within its unique Power Up Poker creation online. Forum member sixhigh answered the question with the following information. “Two buy-in levels were available this week: $0.92 + $0.08 ($1) and $2.76 + $0.24 ($3). That’s 8.7% rake for both for roughly 15-25 hands of poker.”

Since that October 12th post, PokerStars has added $7 games with $15 buy-ins scheduled to launch on Monday, October 23rd.

In spite of the high rake compared to PokerStars’ formats before the site was purchased by Amaya Inc (now known as The Stars Group) in 2014, veteran player feedback up to this point has been positive. This could be a result of one or more of the following factors:

  • Power Up Poker is an original creation of PokerStars, unlike traditional poker
  • The game’s design is unique and competitive with other modern-day online card games
  • For-profit players see opportunities in skill-based play
  • Power Up Poker is being actively marketed by PokerStars
  • Power Up Poker Developer Interview

    An interview with one of Power Up Poker‘s developers Chris Straghalis was published by PokerStrategy.com editor Barry Carter.

    Straghalis acknowledges the “skill oriented” aspect of Power Up in his interview with Carter, stating that “in addition to all of the normal poker strategic elements (and it’s important to note that we haven’t removed those elements) such as position, stack size, betting patterns, hand ranges and so on, we have added new areas for players to focus on. The powers themselves are certainly the biggest skill-testing element but players will also need to consider how they combine powers.”

    Power Up Presents Opportunity for PokerStars PR Reps

    The mostly positive feedback from veteran players during Power Up’s real money Beta launch phase could provide Stars Group executives Eric Hollreiser and Lee Jones with a much-needed opportunity to cease the company’s negative PR campaign against high-volume, winning online poker players.

    The back-and-forth between the world’s largest poker site and its net-withdrawing rake contributors has been ongoing since late 2015, when the publicly-traded company refused to make good on its marketed promise to payout cashback loyalty rewards to its highest-volume customers.

    Since that time, the PokerStars brand has suffered from an onslaught of bad press and ridicule from high profile poker personalities along with some media representatives, culminating in a recent Twitter dispute between former Team Pro Isaac Haxton and the billionaire company’s Head Cheerleader Alex Dreyfus (Global Poker League CEO).

    But the initial forum feedback from contributors of the TwoPlusTwo forum paints Power Up Poker in a reasonably positive light at the very least. Which means that PokerStars may have finally created a product that truly innovates real money online poker. If this turns out to be the case (it’s still way too early to draw a decisive conclusion on this), PokerStars Public Relations could shift its focus from bickering with established players to communicating genuine outreach with its customers of all skill levels to improve its standing within the industry.

    In other words, Power Up Poker presents Stars Group corporate commanders with a unique opportunity to hold themselves accountable for the format’s inevitable successes and failures without the need to blame customers for every decision that doesn’t pan out — such as awarding cash for multiple online satellite victories into live events for more than a decade — then claiming that pro players had “taken advantage of” a system that was launched and once heavily promoted by the site itself (SOURCE: PokerStars Blog).

    Try Out Power Up Poker Exclusively on Pokerstars

    If you are a fan of online card games and want to try your luck at the new real money offering, you can Sign Up for a PokerStars Account directly via your friends here at PartTimePoker.

    Read More PartTimePoker Content from Our Contributors

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    New Jersey Regulated Online Poker Compact Deal FAQs (David Huber – Oct 14, 2017)