Power Up is currently in closed Alpha, meaning that we still have a lot of adjustments to make and many more features to add," said Severin Rasset, director of poker innovation and operations for PokerStars, in a blog post announcing the alpha test. "For these reasons it's only available to a limited number of people and real money games are still a long way off. We'll periodically expand the pool of players, while tweaking and adding features, while constantly taking feedback from the participants."
PokerNews spoke about the new game last week with Eric Hollreiser, vice president of corporate communications for Amaya Inc. and PokerStars, and Igor Kurganov, the newly announced PokerStars Team Pro who already tested the game.
"It's kind of like a mixture between poker and Hearthstone," Kurganov said. "It’s definitely really fun. What is great is that PokerStars has the resources to really work on the balance of the game."
Kurganov also said the level of skill required to play this new variant of poker shifts throughout play.
"I've only played Power Up for a couple of hours, so it's hard to say what requires more skill," he said. "It makes you think and it brings you into many new situations, which is fun. There are no power up schools or softwares out (yet). You just have to make up the strategy as you go, i love that. That's usually what poker players enjoy the most."
Eric Hollreiser said the alpha test is meant to help the team balance the game and improve where needed.
"It's the sort of thing that we want to make sure we get right," Hollreiser said. "We started development in March 2014. It’s gone through lots of iterations. Where a lot of our new developments have come purely from the poker guys, for this, we’ve brought in guys that come out of the video game industry. They’ve been a part of the poker development team for a few years now. While they are all passionate about video games, they have also have an appreciation, love and understanding of poker which has allowed them to add some additional elements to Texas hold’em while respecting the core gameplay."
While the game has been in development for quite some time, an envisioned release date isn't impending.
"There really is no timeline for when we go public on it because it all depends on how it evolves," Hollreiser said. "The things we learn from the alpha will make it into the beta. From there we see if and how we scale it up."