“Hands of Victory” tries to succeed where PokerStars “Power Up” failed

Jon Pill
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Posted on: May 11, 2021 7:47 pm EDT

Hands of Victory is a new online game that begins its soft launch this week. The makers advertise the game as a combination of esports with poker.

Hands of Victory takes the form of a four player sit’n’go. However, each player has a unique deck from which their hole cards are dealt.

Additionally, before the game starts each player picks a character to play. These characters have skills that can be used at a cost of “cunning” and “shark points.” Skills can include turning a hole card of an opponent face up, or swapping out your cards mid-hand.

This feels very similar to the discontinued Power Up game which PokerStars tried to make stick back in 2019.

PokerStars failed to make that first game work, but perhaps Aftermath Interactive can snatch Hands of Victory from the jaws of defeat.

“Innovation isn’t everything,” the head of Aftermath Interactive, the game’s developer, Kim Lund said. “Especially in a conservative industry. But done right it can still make all the difference.”

How to play Hands of Victory

The basic game is Texas hold’em but with a few major twists. The board is still drawn from a regular 52-card deck, but the player’s hole cards are dealt from unique player decks. An algorithm ensures no cards are duplicated in a hand.

At the start of the hand, there is a pineapple-style exchange where players receive three hole cards and discard one.

Players also pick a character to play for each four-player tourney. This character determines the various skills and buffs available to the player. Buffs cost player-characters’ “cunning” to play. At any point during the hand, players can use these character skills to drastically alter the dynamics of play. Sometimes these are small skills like running an all-in twice. Other times they allow the player to swap hole cards, or see parts of their opponent’s hand.

There are several other features like XP points, collectibles, and shark point rewards for achievements like knocking players out. Shark points can be spent on skills when players are out of cunning.

The game is currently free to play.

Will it work

The makers of Hands of Victory compare the game with esports. However, looking at the rules, a closer comparison might be poker-meets-Magic-The-Gathering. Time was, MTG players were a notable force in poker. However, the winds of the market have shifted. Esports is the new big thing.

The launch of Hands of Victory seems to have the folks at Aftermath Interactive nervous. There was something oddly defensive about Lund’s statement to the press.

Hands of Victory represents a radical leap in innovation,” Lund said. But, it’s the sum of many individual novelties that can be combined in other ways to create fresh game experiences, tailored for real money play. Innovation also isn’t only about engagement. It can also be used to — for example — lower the player liquidity threshold for multiplayer products.”

The fact that PokerStars couldn’t get their similar Power Up game to stick doesn’t bode well. It’s hard to see who the game is marketed at.

Hands of Victory just doesn’t seem very likely to appeal to poker players. Most actual poker players would rather be playing actual poker. XP is a poor substitute for the real measure of success at cards: cold hard Johnny Cash.

However, by making the product a stand-alone, and marketing it to esports players, Aftermath might be able to carve out a market niche.

Featured image source: Twitter