New and Unusual Poker Variations and How To Adapt To Them


There are several well-established types of poker, the most popular being Texas Hold ‘em. Yet online providers are always looking for new ways to create exciting games and take poker to the next level. Many of the most recent variations of poker combine traditional rules with crazy twists to make exciting new formats.
 
Here we take a look at three recent variations of poker, and how you can adapt your game to each one. It’s beyond the scope of this article to teach you the fundamentals of the game, so I assume you already have a basic knowledge of poker.
 

Spin N’ Go

Spin N’ Gos were first introduced to online sites in 2014, and have since established themselves as very popular games for recreational players. Spin N’ Gos follow the rules of Texas Hold ‘em, and the format is hyper-turbo with three players, 500 chip starting stacks and 3 minute blind levels.
 
The prize money is decided as the game commences, and can be anything from 2x – 12,000x where the winner takes all. Though the odds of the jackpot kicking in are very slim (1/1,000,000), the scope for a big win with a small buy-in is enticing and exciting. Expect to be fighting it out for twice the buy-in most of the time, and then occasionally for 4 – 10x the buy-in.
 
There are a few strategic adaptions to make here. First of all, the stack sizes are small compared to the blinds. Starting stacks are 25bb, so the first couple of levels are suitable for small raises, steals and controlled aggression similar to a short-handed cash game strategy. If the other players let you own the table during these early stages, then great! Don’t flat call bets often – be prepared to 3-bet all in to defend.
 
After the first two or three levels, you will naturally have to fall back on your late-stage tournament strategy, playing short stack poker and racing against an increasingly threatening blind. Shove all in, adjusting your range according to your opponent, or trap opponents into giving you a double up. Then it’s heads-up all the way!
 

Power Up

This is perhaps the most unusual and daring variation of poker released in the last decade, and it almost plays out like a video game or e-sport competition. The rules are again based on Texas Hold ‘em, with all of the usual cards and bets, but in Power Up you also receive up to three power cards. These cards can be used to drastically affect the course of the hand.
 
The game plays out in a 3-handed SNG format and is available at several different stakes. Power cards are replenished after every hand, so you always have three in your hand. When it comes to your turn to bet, you can choose to play a power card. Each power card costs a set amount of energy, and players have limited energy – starting with 10, with a maximum of 15 and a replenish rate of 3 per hand.
 
The trick here is to understand all of the powers, know how to use them, and in what situations they are most effective. Examples of powers include; X-Ray, which allows you to see an opponent’s hole car; Reload, which gives you the opportunity to change one or more of your hole cards; and EMP, which disables opponent’s powers. There are 12 powers in total.
 

Fusion

 
This is the most recent addition to the PokerStars menu of games. Fusion poker is a blend of two popular variations, Texas Hold ‘em and Omaha. You start with two hole cards just like in Hold ‘em. After the flop, you are dealt another hole card, and then another after the turn for a total of 4 hole cards. You then have to make the best hand possible using two cards from your hand and three cards from the board.
 
Fusion poker only came out in late 2018, so players are still adapting to the game and finding their own strategies, but it’s worth pointing out that by the end of the hand you are basically playing Pot-limit Omaha. It is Omaha hands that you will be making, and therefore Hold ‘em hand rankings go out of the window. Learn both variations to become a master of this game.
 
For now, one of the most important differences is that pre-flop equity margins are much slimmer. The difference between AQ and QJ in Texas Hold ‘em is 72% to 28%, whereas in Fusion it runs at only 56% to 44%. This is because in Fusion the hands are really AQxx and QJxx, and so by the end of the hand, there is much more opportunity to catch up. As such, you can play more hands pre-flop, especially when you can gain an edge in other ways, such as position, and by playing a weaker opponent.

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