Gameplay in PowerUp poker follows an odd bell curve of divergence from regular NLHE, in that generally the beginnings and ends of each SNG are closely aligned with “conventional” poker play, while the mid-game is furthest from what we could consider traditional 3-way SNG action. This is because – whether its stuck in the minds of novice players (which we all are in a sense) or the reality of the game – PowerUp cards make their mark mostly as a means to positioning players to an advantageous Heads-Up position rather than as “game winners” themselves.
As such two things become clear:
- Don’t burn off your PowerUp cards in early action, as blinds still aren’t valuable enough to steal using this mana-heavy method. You may pick up some small early pots but at the cost of leaving yourself handicapped in later 3-handed levels, unable to chip up while your two opponents go to war in that pivotal hand which gets one of them to HU play with a 2-1 chip advantage on you.
- Don’t hoard your PowerUp cards too much in anticipation of Heads-Up play. It leaves you trailing throughout most of the match, and even if playing tight allows you to get heads up against an opponent with more mana and PowerUp cards than him – this doesn’t overcome his 2-1 (or possibly greater) chip advantage as he can patiently limp-fold a few hands while you burn through your PowerUps and then pummel you with aggression afterwards.
Of course, exceptions abound. If you get into a juicy spot on hand 1. Go for it, and if you think that your opponent won’t play optimally HU at all, then perhaps save a bit of extra PowerUp moves for the late game. Generally though – you want to unleash in the mid-game and optimize your chances of winning outright. Remember: 2nd pays zero in PowerUp.