Now I’ve taken over the reigns here at Play Power Up, I thought it was time I had a more serious look at the game that’s going to be so influential in my work life. I’ve been playing poker for over 20 years, since my Dad introduced me to 7 card stud back when I was a wide eyed 14 year old. I discovered No Limit Hold’em along with a lot of my peers back in 1999 and joined the poker boom as the game exploded into the wider public consciousness. So, I know one end of a deck of cards from the other.
I decided to play a little safe and try out the lowest limits available for Power Up, and jumped in to a succession of $1 Power Up games, with varying success. I’d played a few games when the Beta had released, but this was my first real serious exposure to the game.
The first thing I thought when my table opened was that it felt like a Spin & Go. Three players at the table, and a fast structure. Great, I had a winning run at Spin & Gos earlier in the year. This should be easy.
While my first couple of games saw me winning, Lady Luck decided that I really wasn’t a beginner, and didn’t qualify for the beginner’s luck package. I started to get a little over confident, and began making plays that wouldn’t be out of line at the mid-stakes short-handed tournament tables. This was a mistake. Power Up isn’t a spin and go, and it isn’t a short-handed tournament. It’s something else.
The addition of the power cards and energy resource didn’t seem to be a big deal to start with, but it really does change the way you need to play the game. Did I like it all, no, but more on that later.
I’ve also played enough Hearthstone and Gwent to know a video game when I see it, and I’ve seen enough poker (some would say too much) to be able to discuss the way a table is playing with a reasonable confidence.
These tables were all over the place. By that, I mean that players are still learning. No-one really knows all the strategy behind Power up, as there hasn’t been enough information for the number crunchers out there to really get the mathematically perfect plays nailed yet.
We know some of the basics, such as which hands to play, and which hands to fold from our poker experience. The strength of some of the power cards is fairly intuitive, but we are in new territory in combining the genres of Poker and Video games. Do I think PokerStars have got it all 100% right? To be honest, no I don’t.
The idea of combining poker and video games has been floating around the industry for the past few years, especially after the Twitch explosion. Finding a way to bring video game players to the poker tables has been a key focus of the poker industry ever since.
That’s not to say Power Up isn’t fun, but I don’t think this current format is going to have wide appeal to players of esports games. Esports games tend to have the random element limited to allow skill to be the determining factor.
Anyway, back to my 1st session. I ended up with a small profit of just over a Dollar from my nine games. It’s not going to set the world on fire, but a profit is a profit. What I was able to do, along with earning an extra dollar, was get a much better understanding of where the game is right now, and where I’d like to see it going in the future. But that’s something for the next episode where I’m going to talk about some of the issues I’ve seen, along with some potential solutions.