Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Here Comes HoldemX

I played a few games of this new HoldemX today. There’s a site up and running now where you can create an account and play. I think the site actually just launched, with this being called the “alpha version” of the game meant to introduce it and get feedback from players.

This article on PokerNews gives a bit of background about the game and a little on how it fits into this larger vision of Alex Dreyfus and the Global Poker League. The article points out how the game combines hold’em and other card-based games like Magic: The Gathering, Hearthstone (about which I was writing a little here a while back), and Uno.

It also explains how the game involves both the regular 52-card deck used in hold’em and (in this version) a 15-card “Discovery Deck.” If you go over to the site and mess around as I did, you’ll see these are listed as “Xcards.” They’re essentially game-changing cards, letting players do things like change or add to their hole cards, change community cards in various ways (including adding sixth street), and so on.

Here’s a picture of the 15 “Xcards” to give you an idea (click to enlarge):

Hands are played like hold’em, with extra rounds inserted along the way where players are able to employ those “Xcards” to change how the hand is going. It’s a bit like playing hold’em with wild cards, but with a lot more variables greatly affecting strategy. The games are timed as well meaning you can get through one in just a few minutes.

Dreyfus is quoted in the article explaining how this is in fact a rudimentary version of the game using “only” 15 of these “Xcards” or “Discovery Deck” cards. The idea, he says, is to provide “an educational experience to give players a chance to play around with the fundamental mechanisms of the game before flooding the platform with multiple deck options, special cards, and other features.”

The article also emphasizes that the game is not intended to be played for money -- only chips. “Hearthstone is not about money: it is about fun, special effects, and skills,” explains Dreyfus, who envisions HoldemX to function similarly (and not to compete with poker).

The tagline is “Poker Enhanced,” but I’m not sure what poker players are going to think of the game. It seems like you’d have to have an interest in poker to want to try it out, but the differences from regular hold’em -- or even from most forms of poker -- are so great even in this “simple” early version, you’d have to have a more substantial interest in games and problem-solving to want to play.

A decent percentage of poker players do like these sort of challenges, but they also like playing cards for money, so that, too, seems like another hurdle HoldemX will have to clear.

I may get back on there at some point just to mess around some more. If you do, let me know what you think.

Images: HoldemX.com.

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