It has been previewed for months now, but PokerStars new game, Power Up, is finally available for real money play as of Tuesday, October 10th. Currently, players on the .EU site can participate in Power Up games for real money ($1, $3, $7, and $15 buy-ins), while those on the .COM, .UK, and other PokerStars sites will have to wait a little bit, but should have access “very soon.”

Power Up, as you will remember if you have read my previous pieces on the game, is a three-handed, winner-take-all, Sit-and-Go with quickly escalating blinds. It can play just like regular Hold’em, but if it did, it wouldn’t be anything special. Where Power Up shines is in the “powers” that can be used each hand.

The powers are special cards each player has, like an extra set of hole cards. These cards allow players to manipulate the game in such a way so as to benefit themselves. For instance, the “Intel” power lets the player who uses it see the deck’s top card for the rest of the hand. The “Disintegrate” power lets the player eliminate a card that is already on the board.

Each player begins the game with two power cards and can have as many as three at any given time. If a player has fewer than three powers, he or she will be dealt one before the start of the next hand (except before the first hand). Each power costs a certain amount of energy, so they can’t necessarily be played willy-nilly. Everyone begins with 10 energy and receives 2 energy after every hand up to a maximum of 15 energy.

Here are the available powers and their energy costs:

Clone: receive a copy of the last power played this hand (2 energy)
Disintegrate: destroy a selected card on the current street (4 energy)
EMP: prevent the use of any more powers on this street (3 energy)
Engineer: choose the deck’s next card from three options (5 energy)
Intel: view the deck’s top card for the remainder of the hand (3 energy)
Reload: re-draw one or both hole cards (5 energy)
Scanner: view the top two cards in the deck and choose to keep or discard them (4 energy)
Upgrade: draw a third hole card and then discard one (5 energy)
X-Ray: all opponents must reveal one randomly selected card (2 energy)

Players can use as many powers as they would like when it is their turn to act, provided they have enough energy. Of course, players don’t have to use any powers, either.

One interesting bit about Power Up beyond the game mechanics itself is that PokerStars built a whole new game engine for it, complete with new graphics and animations.

“Since the game’s inception, we’ve been eagerly anticipating this moment and it’s finally here,” said Severin Rasset, Director of Poker Innovation and Operations, on the PokerStars blog. “The team have worked incredibly hard to produce a brand new game which, by utilizing our custom engine, delivers incredible mechanics and an engaging universe. We are immensely proud of this major innovation to poker and we hope our players love it as much as we do.”

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