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PokerStars’ Power Up Alpha Insights: Our Take

Reader’s note: This Article is in response to – this piece from the PokerStars’ blog:



We’ll wait for you to read up (it’s short) and then we’ll catch up below.

….Really? You read it that fast? Come on. Don’t just skim.

….Alright, let’s get on with it then.


We’ve had basically what amounts to radio silence from PokerStars since they pulled Power Up off of their virtual shelves and closed the game’s Alpha test-run. Two weeks seemed like an unusually short run for an Alpha of a brand new game – it felt like we’d just gotten a taste of more diversified gameplay scenarios with different stack depths and buy-in levels – but they must have had their reasons. And now we know why.


Real Money Power up on the Fast Track


According to the PokerStars brass (Severin Rasset, Director of Poker Innovation and Operations at PokerStars), the Alpha release (as well as the treasure trove of statistics they’ve collected) was so positive they are moving straight into a re-developed Real Money version of the game.


That’s….a strong move. Especially for a game we’ve found flaw in. Though since none of our flaws were game breaking (most of them have to do with cost balancing versus game effect balances) going straight from Alpha to Real Money beta show a lot of confidence on PokerStars’ side of things.


The players are being heard


Though Stars stopped one shy of telling us publicly what the finished consensus from players was (other than saying it was good) – the company did emphasize that the Power Up alpha was one of the first times it really actively used its Discord channel and kept assurances that when players talked – they listened.


Fingers crossed this is a trend that keeps happening once real money is in the picture and players’ concerns stop being about bad balance and start being about losing their lunch money to OP card combos in-game.


The idea is to get a new demographic into an old game, it seems


While we should take this – perhaps the most “PR-ey” – can we say that? – bit of the blog with a grain of salt it does seem like not the worst thing that PokerStars acknowledges that its not trying to reinvent the new normal in poker. It’s just trying to create a new door for more players, many of whom were babies or children during poker’s initial modern ‘boom’, to get into the poker universe. If the new way to do that is with laser beams rather than delicious tournament guarantees and bad regs – so be it.


We’re excited to see what comes regardless, and happy that it looks like the Power Up train is rolling much faster than we anticipated. We’ll still probably start out at the micros to be safe for now though (looking at you, Upgrade!).

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