It now looks like if you have the ability to play on PokerStars for real money from wherever you live and DON’T have access to the new Power Up game, you are in the minority. After initially only rolling the game out to the .EU platform a couple weeks ago, PokerStars has now expanded it to .UK and the flagship site, .COM.
As happens sometimes with online games and technology in general, Power Up actually ran into a technical snag two days after launch, forcing PokerStars to take the game down for a while. At 2:00pm ET on October 11th, just the second day of Power Up’s official real money existence, it was removed from the client software mysteriously, though the company did say on Twitter that it had something to do with the mobile version of the game.
Half a day later, Lee Jones went online to explain that for some reason, the mobile PokerStars lobby was only allowing players to search or filter for Power Up games, rather than all games on the client.
“As a result,” he said, “we have removed PowerUp from our desktop and mobile platforms in order to ensure players continue to have a high quality experience. It is important to note that the Power Up real money experience was not impacted and performed as we had expected.”
Last week, on October 17th, Power Up was put back online.
PokerStars has also added buy-in levels. I had originally reported that there were buy-in options of $1, $3, $7, and $15, as that’s what the PokerStars’ website said, but as I am in a state in the U.S. not called New Jersey, I can’t play for real money and, in fact, can’t even SEE the PokerStars lobby. Thus, I was unable to verify that the only buy-ins at launch were $1 and $3. According to reports (it’s really sad, frankly, that I have to rely on a report for this and can’t just look at the lobby and/or observe games), $7 and $15 buy-ins have launched this week.
So far, the early reviews of Power Up have been positive, as players have been enjoying the added complexity and strategy the “power” cards bring to the table. PokerStars even came up with a back story for Power Up, which is really bizarre for a poker game:
Clean and renewable energy abounds, bioengineers have eliminated world hunger and the world remains connected at all times through Continuous Presence. However human nature demands competition which is satisfied through intellectual sport. The biggest of all of these, is Power Up. Key to its success and dominance are the nine powers, which require new strategies and approaches to be learnt to master the tactics for success.
Power Up employs completely different player avatars than does other PokerStars games and the poker room has even invented short bios of each character. Murray Hoarsebark, for example, is from the nation “Canine Legion,” has a “slow, thoughtful” play style, is good at spotting bluffs, but allows self-doubt to creep into his game.
Right now, players are automatically assigned an avatar each time they sit down (despite the bios, the avatar has no effect on gameplay – it’s just for show), but apparently PokerStars will allow players to choose their character at some point in the future.