In case you've been living under a rock, you'll have seen that PokerStars
released an all-new version of poker last month. The game is called Power Up
and, by adding special powers that you can use to turn the game around in your favour, it's disrupting traditional poker as we know it.
Thousands of players are already playing and enjoying Power Up but if you're new to the game or keen to learn some of the unique strategies that can be deployed to give yourself an edge then PokerStars School has an early Christmas present for you. We spoke with Randy 'Nanonoko' Lew and Felix 'xflixx' Schneiders to get their thoughts on Power Up strategy. Interestingly, as you'll see there is no agreed strategy for Power Up yet with Lew and Schneiders having some quite contrasting strategies on how to play and win.
If anything, that's one of the major appeals of Power Up; everyone is still learning the game, and having fun doing it. So read the below from two of Team Pro Online's finest and then load some Power Up tables and strap yourselves in for a completely new form of poker!
PokerStars School (PSS)
: What skills can players bring over from traditional No Limit Hold'em tournaments to Power Up?
Randy Lew (RL)
: Even though they are quite different games the blinds increase in both tournaments, so your strategy needs to change as the stacks get shallower and the blinds increase.
Felix Schneiders (FS)
: Having experience of playing 3-handed and heads-up from the Spin & Go format will help you a lot. Staying aggressive at all time and being aware of positional advantage is still key, especially with the powers coming into play. As the game has no ante it means that you can afford to see more flops – which helps a lot when deciding when to utilise your powers!
PSS: How important are the powers in Power Up? Or is playing good 'normal' tournament poker strategy still the key?
: Powers are very important in Power Up. The best 'normal' poker player in the world that does not use any powers will not be able to beat a reasonable player who is allowed to use any amount of powers.
: Powers are distributed at random, and some are more effective than others, so they don't always help you significantly. Generally, if you play a basic solid, aggressive game that takes advantage of position you will still be able to win many games – even if you're still learning how best to utilise the powers.
PSS: What would you say is the most important power and why?
: I'd say X-Ray. [X-Ray allows you to see through your opponents, forcing them to expose one of their hole cards.] It's one of the lowest cost cards so it can be used regularly without worrying about using up too much energy. It's also a very powerful card as you can easily figure out if your opponent is likely to hit the board or not and if they are strong or weak preflop.
: I also think X-Ray is the most important! It's huge when you consider the mind games that you can play with your opponent, and it gives you so much additional information to help you make better decisions. If you can use Scanner [this allows you to view the top two cards in the deck and choose if you'd like to discard one] and Reload [this allows you to change one or both of your hole cards] at the same time in a combination then that can become a really powerful power too.
PSS: Should players always look to use their powers as soon as possible? Or should they hand onto them for when the blinds increase later in the tournament?
: You should definitely look to use your powers as regularly as possible. That's where your edge in Power Up is – and that's especially the case when the blinds increase.
: I disagree with Randy somewhat; in my view you should definitely hang on to them if it's possible and use the powers later on when the blinds are bigger and the hands are more important. In the early stages of a Power Up tournament it's tough to force someone to stack off easily, especially when they also have powers in their hand, so I prefer to wait and pick my spots to hit them with power.
PSS: Do you think it's important to try and gain a big stack early on or should your strategy be to focus on making it to heads-up and taking it from there?
: I would just focus on making the best plays you can and using your powers to help you gain chips. Whether that's 3-handed or heads-up doesn't really matter.
: Once again, I find myself disagreeing with Randy's advice somewhat! If you can just make it to heads-up then that's a solid strategy; with the right powers you can set yourself up nicely for a turnaround (assuming you have less chips) and go on to win.
PSS: What powers do players misplay the most and why?
: Engineer [this allows you to choose the deck's next card from three options]. I see players use this card preflop but that would only let you choose one of the three cards for the flop! It would be much more powerful if you use it postflop as now you are able to choose the exact card for the turn or the river – and it could easily determine the winner.
: Like Randy says, Engineer is definitely misplayed a lot. The other would be Reload [this allows you to change one or both of your hole cards] – it's very easy to pick the wrong card to change (either by accident or a mistake) and this can lead to a lot of regrets!
PSS: Are there some 'standard' Power Up spots that you have come across so far and what are they?
: The most common 'standard' power spot I've seen is using EMP preflop. [This power prevents opponents playing any powers on a given street.] So, if you have a strong Ace or a small pocket pair, it would be a good strategy to raise all-in and then use EMP so people cannot use Upgrade or Reload to make a stronger hand.
The other most common play I have seen is using Disintegrate [this power allows you to choose a card to destroy on the board] on the top card of the flop so that your second pair is now top pair. You can then play it super strongly.
PSS: If you had to give players one tip when trying out Power Up for the first time what would it be?
: Use you powers all the time – even if it seems pointless at times. You'll learn how to use all of the powers faster and you won't then waste spots where you don't use powers for a long time.
: When you're not just practising and are trying to win I think it's important to not use your powers too quickly and easily. Try to wait for important spots and in the beginning just stick to regular poker concepts. It's important not to get too far out of line and go wild with garbage hands just because you have powers!