Poker Trumps Powers?

With the added powers in Power Up, sometimes it’s easy to forget that the decider to who wins the hand is based on poker.

As you can see in the video above from Arlie Shaban’s stream, sometimes you don’t need to use any powers to win a hand. In this example, Arlie’s opponents use a plethora of powers, X-Ray, Scanner and Reload all make an appearance. Arlie however sits with his King-Queen of clubs and lets the hand play out.

What this hand illustrates is that powers alone aren’t enough to win a hand. Arlie would likely have folded in earlier rounds had these powers been supported by a significant bet. Power Up strategy needs to be thought about holistically. We need to consider the elements of poker and betting strategy alongside the additional strategy of using the powers.

Waiting until we hit a big hand by using the powers is usually too late to get all the chips into the middle. The time to get chips into the middle is when we have fold equity, or when our opponents are trying to hit their draws and we are mathematically more likely to win the hand.

In this hand, one of Arlie’s opponents uses X-Ray preflop, but then just calls behind the previous action. In my opinion, that’s not a horrible move as Arlie is showing a King, but a raise here could have likely taken the pot cheaply.

The flop is checked round. The opponent to Arlie’s right still hasn’t tried to support his power card use. He’s the only player at the table not showing any cards and by not betting on a flop as unconnected as this one, his use of the X-Ray power hasn’t been supported. This seems to be a great spot for a bluff bet to me, even if he hasn’t connected with the flop cards. The information available about his hand is only that he has something that he wanted to protect by playing his X-Ray. I think this is a big missed opportunity. Arlie has position here, and could raise to try and take the pot, but bluffing into two opponents is a risky play.

The turn puts a potential straight draw on the board, but Arlie’s opponents holding Ten-Eight isn’t highly likely. Following a check from the Small blind player, the play to Arlie’s right bets the minimum possible. Both other players call. Maybe Arlie can re-raise here, but he’s just picked up a straight draw, and has decent showdown value, so the call is perfectly reasonable in my opinion.

The River brings Arlie’s dream card, the Ten. The small blind tries to manufacture a way to win the still rather small pot by playing 2 powers. Playing Scanner, and then discarding the exposed card, he then goes for a “Hail Mary” play and reloads. He has no idea what’s coming, so when he moves all in here, we really don’t know what he has. There is a decent chance he is bluffing as he’s just made a very risky play by playing a blind reload on the river. While this player is supporting his use of powers, it’s too late. By moving all in for more than twice the pot, the only calls coming are going to be from very strong hands. The small blind has got greedy, and it’s cost him this game.

When the Big Blind calls, the chances are they have something decent.

Fortunately, Arlie has the best hand possible. He can’t lose, so getting the last few chips in from the Big Blind is the obvious course of action. Any Eight gives the other players a worse straight, and a Queen-Eight holding gives another worse straight. Obviously, a holding of King-Queen matches Arlie’s straight, but coming up against that holding is pretty unlikely.

Arlie has got to the river cheaply and would have most likely have folded his King high preflop to a significant re-raise, or a flop bet of around half the pot. By playing passively, and not supporting their power usage, the other players at the table gave Arlie’s stronger poker hand a chance to improve.

One player used 2 powers on the river in a desperate attempt to salvage the hand, but then massively over-bet the pot when he got there. The other player handled the action better but missed opportunities to take the pot away with more aggressive action.

What do you think about the way the hand played out? What would you have done differently? Give us your opinions in the comments below.



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