PokerStars to Shelve eSports Hybrid Poker Game Power Up PokerStars to Shelve eSports Hybrid Poker Game Power Up
Key Takeaways
  • After more than two years, PokerStars is removing its poker/esports hybrid game Power Up.
  • Going to miss Power Up? Like poker and esports? Check out our article to see where else you can scratch that itch.
  • Power Up may be going away, but there are some new games taking its place. We speculate on what may come next.

If you are a fan of PokerStars’ esports hybrid title Power Up, we have some bad news for you.

The online poker giant has decided to withdraw its unique game offering, Power Up, from its lineup after running it for over two years.

“PokerStars has made the decision to remove [Power Up] from the poker client,” a PokerStars representative told Poker Industry PRO, our premium news and data analytics platform for poker industry insiders. “Designed to bridge the gap between poker and video games, Power Up had a strong and loyal following.”

While a specific date for the closure has not been provided, it is understood that the game will be removed from the PokerStars lobby very soon.

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The History of Power Up

Power Up was first introduced to the public in February 2017 after years of development and internal private testing that kicked off way back in 2013. It was the operator’s attempt to tap into the booming world of esports by combining the elements of poker with those found in esports titles like Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering.

After months of alpha-testing, the game was released for real-money in certain markets with access to the global player pool in October 2017.

Currently, Power Up is available in five different buy-ins: $0.25, $1, $3, $7 and $15. The game is fundamentally No Limit Texas Hold’em played in a winner-take-all, three-handed tournament with a relatively fast blind structure. Unlike, Spin & Go, the game does not have a jackpot element, as the payouts are fixed for all the games.

However, what makes the game unique is that Power Up blends regular poker with the concept of special “power” cards that can be used to manipulate the hand. These powers range from being able to peak at the top cards on the deck or opponents’ cards, to destroying a card on the board or even swapping your hole cards.

Each power has its own special abilities and each of them comes at a cost “energy”, adding an element of skill and strategy on when and how exactly to use them. Every player starts with ten energy points and is initially dealt two power cards. In total, eleven powers that can be used to influence the hand.

Power Up is certainly one of the most ambitious endeavors undertaken by PokerStars in recent years. PokerStars had to build a new game engine from the ground up within the poker client to offer an entirely different gaming experience, with new sounds, animations and a futuristic theme.

Other Poker/eSports Hybrid Games

However, Power Up is not the only poker game that attempts to bridge the gap between poker and video games. Entrepreneur Alex Dreyfus, the founder and CEO of Mediarex, introduced a similar concept in 2016 dubbed HoldemX, a game that takes heads up poker and blends in elements of a card-based strategy game.

The game did garner a flurry of interest initially, but the project died down and it now seems to be in a dormant stage with no activity seen in three years.

Prior to HoldemX, Swedish-based Aftermath Interactive introduced Hands of Victory, a free-to-play social game similar to Hearthstone where players can even upgrade their characters by making a purchase. The game recently went live for a trial with real-money prizes.

Wild Poker and Showdown: Poker Legends are some of other free-to-play social games combining poker with special “powers.”

However, PokerStars is the only operator to release the hybrid esports poker game for real money.

Power Up Likely to Make Way for New Games at PokerStars

With Power Up soon to be withdrawn from the main lobby, PokerStars will now look to fill the gap by replacing it with several new games that are thought to be in the company’s pipeline. They include Deep Water Hold’em, a game that was revealed exclusively by F5poker back in April. Based on our findings, the game could involve a twist with the antes.

Swap Hold’em is another game that could make its debut on PokerStars soon. Speculating based on the name alone, the game could allow players to swap hole card(s) for a new one from a deck, borrowing the novelty from PokerStars’ own Power Up, which has the “reload” power that allows players to replace one or both hole cards with new ones from the deck.

The Omaha versions of Split and Showtime are also expected to be released by the operator in the near future.

“We are certain we will fill the needs of those who loved [Power Up], as we move with the times and keep innovating and testing to bring the best experience to all our players,” PokerStars told PRO.