Leading online poker room PokerStars has added yet another new innovative cash game variant to its game offerings dubbed Swap Hold’em.

The game follows the long list of innovative limited-time cash game variants that the operator has been developing over the last three years in an attempt to keep players engaged.

It is currently available as a cash game with its own lobby, sitting right next to 6+ Hold’em and Tempest in the main lobby. The game is played 6-handed and is available at nearly a dozen stakes starting from the micro stakes $0.02/$0.05 and going up to $10/$20.

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How Swap Hold’em is Played?

Swap Hold’em plays exactly like regular Texas Hold’em but with a twist that lets players swap one or both of their hole cards for new ones from the deck. Players must swap at least one hole card before they can fold.

Swapping of hole cards can be done once per hand and at any point during the hand, be it pre-flop, or post-flop at turn, or even at the river. However, once a player goes all-in, he or she loses the ability to swap cards.

As soon as a player swaps, their opponents will immediately know how many hole cards have been swapped. There is no obligation to swap cards as players can proceed with the hand by either checking, calling a bet or making a bet.

Some of the key points of Swap Hold’em:

  • Players can swap either one or both of their hole cards for free
  • Swapping of cards is only allowed once per hand
  • Players must swap their cards before they can fold
  • Swapping can be done at any stage of the hand (either pre- or post-flop) except when a player is all-in

Swap Hold’em Takes Inspirations from PokerStars’ Power Up

The novelty of swapping hole cards is seemingly inspired by PokerStars’ esports poker title Power Up—a game no longer available that allowed players to influence their hand by using special powers. One of the powers of the game was “reload” that allowed players to replace one or both hole cards with a new one from the deck.

Power Up was withdrawn from PokerStars’ game offerings in November last year after running for two years.

Another free-play esports title Hands of Victory, which dates back to early 2015, has a swap ability option.

Swap Hold’em Follows PokerStars’ Tradition of Launching Limited-time Cash Games

Swap Hold’em is PokerStars’ eighth novelty variant that has been launched in the last three years.

From Split Hold’em to Showtime, from Unfold to Fusion, the operator has been releasing these new game titles consistently since 2018.

In November last year, PokerStars launched another two action-packed new cash game variants in tandem, Deep Water Hold’em and Tempest Hold’em.

Most of these lasted just a couple of months except for 6+ Hold’em and Tempest Hold’em—the operator’s first-ever Push or Fold game—both of them continue to run even today.

Deep Water Hold’em was withdrawn from the lobby in January only to be replaced with Fusion which returned after over a year. In February, PokerStars added 6-Card Omaha cash game tables. However, unlike other games, 6-Card Omaha, in contrast, is listed in the regular lobby along with other Omaha variants. This suggests that the game is a permanent addition to their game offerings.

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PokerStars Cash Game Novelties

Variant Table size Game Limit Launch Date Withdrawn Date Lifetime (days)
Split Hold’em 6-max Hold’em NL Mar 28, 2018 May 14, 2018 48
Showtime Hold’em 6-max Hold’em NL May 23, 2018 Jul 23, 2018 62
Unfold Hold’em 8-max Hold’em NL Aug 2, 2018 Sep 27, 2018 57
Fusion 6-max Hold’em PL Nov 7, 2018 Jan 9, 2019 64
6+ Hold’em 6-max Hold’em NL Jan 16, 2019 -
Deep Water Hold’em 6-max Hold’em NL Nov 20, 2019 Jan 8, 2020 50
Tempest Hold’em 6-max Hold’em NL Nov 20, 2019 -
Swap Hold’em 6-max Hold’em NL March 17, 2020 -
Showtime Omaha - Omaha PL - -
Split Omaha - Omaha PL - -
Fusion (second run) 6-max Hold’em PL January 28, 2020 March 13, 2020 46

Swap Hold’em was first spotted by Poker Industry PRO, premium news and data analytics platform for poker industry insiders, six months ago after the game made its appearance in the “tournament” filter of the PokerStars’ main lobby.

The game was launched for real money earlier today in the international dot-com and dot-eu clients. It is also available to UK, Belgium, Estonian, Russian clients which have their own dedicated PokerStars platform. The game is also accessible in the play money (dot-net) platform.

However, the game is only visible to players that have enabled PokerStars’ new game engine called Aurora.