In 2007, Facebook began working with a little known-game
developer called Zynga. And the first game to arise from this
partnership was Zynga Poker.
The partnership quickly accelerated Zynga Poker’s growth and
helped make it the world’s largest poker site today.
It also popularized the concept of social poker, where you
can purchase play money chips, chat with friends, and complete
It’s estimated that over 350 million people have played Zynga
Poker at least once.
What makes this poker game so popular? And how do you play
Let’s answer these questions and more by looking at Zynga
Poker’s history, how to play, and its pros and cons.
History of Zynga Poker on Facebook
In 2007, Eric Schiermeyer, Justin Waldron, Mark Pincus,
Michael Luxton, Steve Schoettler, and Andrew Trader co-founded a
company called Presidio Media.
Months later, the company adopted the name Zynga, which was
named after Pincus’ late bulldog Zinga.
In July 2007, Zynga Poker, a.k.a. Texas Holdem, launched on
Facebook and became the company’s first game. Powered by this
poker game, Zynga became the most popular game developer on
Facebook with 40 million monthly users.
Zynga Poker Becomes Largest Online Poker Site
Prior to Zynga Poker’s launch, the online poker scene
primarily consisted of real money sites and basic free play
games around the internet.
Zynga changed this, though, by providing a cartoonish Texas
Holdem game with features that emphasized socializing with
This unparalleled experience drew the masses, with Zynga
Poker’s player base quickly growing into the millions.
In March 2011, ESPN pointed out that Zynga’s Texas HoldEm had
38 million players, making it the world’s biggest online poker
This trend hasn’t stopped because VentureBeat’s Dean
Takahashi estimated that over 350 million people had played
Zynga Poker by 2014.
Zynga Expands Its Market, Adds More Languages
Like many Facebook games and services, Texas HoldEm began as
an English only game. But Zynga added more languages and
expanded to more countries in 2010.
One of the most significant moves was when they added
Mandarin Chinese and marketed to China. Zynga Poker is also
available in French, Indonesian, Portuguese, and Turkish.
PokerCon Held in Las Vegas
Fueled by the success of their poker game, Zynga held
PokerCon at Las Vegas’ Palms Casino Resort in 2011.
PokerCon featured several professional poker players,
including Annie Duke, Doyle Brunson, Gavin Smith, Mike Sexton,
Scotty Nguyen, and Vanessa Rousso. Duke taught an instructional
course to interested participants called Zynga Poker University.
Award winning rapper B.o.B. put on a performance for PokerCon
PokerCon also featured a $100,000 live poker tournament held
inside the Palms Casino.
The goal of the 2 day event was to encourage players to turn
their online friendships into offline connections.
PokerCon is no longer held, and no plans have been announced
to bring it back.
Zynga Announces Real Money Poker
In its first several years, Zynga Poker was only a play money
site. While players still pay money to buy chips, these chips
have no monetary value.
But in 2012, Zynga announced that they would enter real money
online poker markets through Facebook.
This didn’t happen immediately, though, with Zynga unsure of
what real money markets they wanted to enter.
They initially discussed the US, where Delaware, Nevada, and
New Jersey were preparing to regulate online gaming. But they
settled on the UK because it has a nationally regulated online
gaming market with more potential players.
ZyngaPokerPlus and ZyngaCasinoPlus launched in the UK in
January 2014. Utilizing PartyPoker software, ZyngaPokerPlus
shared a player pool with the bwin.party network.
Zynga got far less traffic than they expected in the UK and
closed ZyngaPokerPlus and ZyngaPlusCasino in March 2015. The
move came at a time when Zynga was struggling, their stock
prices were falling, and they wanted to fully focus on social
Zynga Poker, Facebook Tear Up Contract
In May 2010, Zynga threatened to leave Facebook after the
social gaming giant announced that customers would have to
exclusively use Facebook Credits to make in game purchases.
This angered Zynga because it provided an extra layer that
players had to go through to buy items in Zynga Poker and their
Just days later, the two sides settled their differences by
signing a 5 year contract. Main points of the contract included
Facebook Credits being expanded in Zynga games, and Facebook
agreeing not to develop their own games.
But in November 2012, Zynga and Facebook ended their
contract. While Zynga games still run on Facebook, there were a
few notable changes to the companies’ relationship.
Facebook is allowed to develop their own games, although
they’ve yet to dive into this space.
Zynga no longer has to force players to use Facebook to log
into their games. Another point in Zynga’s favor is that they
don’t have to run Facebook’s virtual payment system or ads.
Zynga Poker Undergoes Overhaul in 2014
In September 2014, Zynga made big changes to their poker
product. Changes included:
New interface that allows for easier navigation.
Improved lobby that allows players to enter cash games/tournaments quicker.
New table design with a realistic poker perspective.
More precise betting system for the iPad and iPhone.
Bigger hole cards meant to mimic a real life poker experience.
While Zynga stated that these changes were the result of
player feedback, many customers were critical that the Zynga
Poker experience was being altered too much.
One month after the original changes, Zynga announced that
players would be able to use the older version through Zynga
How to Play Zynga Poker
You can play Zynga’s Texas HoldEm on a variety of platforms,
including with Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone mobile
devices, along with PC, and Mac computers.
Below are some quick instructions for how to access Zynga
Poker from the different platforms and how you play the game.
Accessing Zynga Poker through Facebook
No matter what computer or mobile device you’re using,
playing Zynga Poker through Facebook features the same process.
You can start by searching for Texas holdem or poker in the
Facebook search engine. You may also find Texas HoldEm listed to
the side of your Facebook page under Apps.
Note that in either case, you must have a Facebook account
and be logged in to find the Texas HoldEm app.
Once you click on Texas HoldEm through the Apps menu or
search engine results, the game will load automatically.
While Zynga Poker is loading, you’ll be prompted to accept
bonus chips, share chips with friends, and try other Zynga games
like FarmVille and CityVille.
You can close the ads by clicking the X in the upper right
hand corner. Once you’ve either accepted or closed the ads, the
Texas HoldEm lobby appears ready for play.
Downloading the Zynga Poker App through a Smartphone or Tablet
If you’re experienced with downloading apps through a
smartphone or tablet, you should have no trouble accessing Zynga
The first step involves navigating to the app store for your
specific operating system (OS). Android OS users visit Google
Play, Apple iOS users visit the App Store, and windows users
visit the Windows Store.
No matter which store you’re using, you can find Zynga Poker
by searching for poker or Texas holdem. Zynga is one of the
first apps that appears in search engines, so this process only
takes seconds to complete.
Playing Zynga Poker
Texas HoldEm features a lobby in the middle of the screen
that offers a variety of stakes, tables, and formats. The
Holdem cash games offer blinds
ranging from 25 / 50 chips to 200 million / 400 million chips.
The max buy in and number of players are listed next to each
table. You can limit the stakes that you see in the lobby by
using the drop down arrow at the top.
The Holdem section has two
different settings: Normal and Fast. The latter is a fast fold
variant that sees you receive a new hand immediately after your
action ends in the current hand.
These Texas holdem tournaments
see the chip leader from each table advance through a series of
rounds. You can skip ahead to later rounds by paying gold, also
used in Zynga Casino, or getting sponsored by a friend.
Sit N Go
These are single table
tournaments that always feature 9 players at Zynga. The lobby
shows you the buy in, prizes, speed Fast / Normal, and number of
players seated in each Sit N Go.
When you choose a cash game or tournament that you can
afford, you’ll be taken to the table and asked to read / accept
terms of service. If you don’t have the required amount of chips
to play at a desired table, Zynga will prompt you to purchase
As long as a seat is available and you have enough chips, you
can select a table and choose a seat.
If you’ve played online poker before, the process is exactly
the same with Zynga.
You have the option to bet, raise, fold, or check depending
upon the situation. You’re only given a few seconds to make each
decision before the software automatically checks or folds your
You can visit another table at any time by clicking New Table
in the top left hand corner.
Also note that Texas HoldEm has a chat function that allows
you to type messages for the table to see.
Experience Points and Levels
At the top of the screen, you’ll see a green bar that shows
how many experience points are needed to reach the next level.
As you continue playing hands, you accumulate experience
points that increase this bar. When you reach a new level,
you’ll be awarded more free chips.
In the lobby, you’ll see a section to the right entitled
Challenges. You can scroll down the list to see what the daily /
weekly challenges are and how long you have to complete them.
Examples of challenges include: win $250k chips in one day,
win $1.5 million chips in 7 days, bet on 12 hands, win two hands
at $2k / $4k limits.
Any time that you complete a challenge, you’ll be awarded
tickets. You can click the Redeem button under the Challenges
section to purchase chips, experience points, and casino gold
with your tickets.
Zynga Poker Promotions and Purchases
Zynga frequently advertises that you can purchase more chips
and VIP points. While you’re given free chips to start with,
additional chips allow you to play higher stakes, level up
faster, and complete more challenges.
Examples of offers include: buying 1,127,000 chips + 200 VIP
points for $2.00; buying $2,860,000 chips + 500 VIP points for
$5.00; and buying $17,160,000 chips + 1,000 VIP points for
VIP points are used through the loyalty program to collect
more chips and accolades.
Pros and Cons of Zynga Poker
Zynga Poker has become the world’s most popular online poker
site for multiple reasons. But it also has some downsides that
can be frustrating.
That said, let’s look at both the positives and negatives of
playing Texas HoldEm.
Zynga has created a detailed and fun poker experience
for recreational players who want to have a good time with
friends and possibly meet some new ones.
You receive $2,000 free chips, which allows you to play
at the low stakes tables. If you’re skilled enough, you can
slowly win chips to build your bankroll.
If you want to accelerate your bankroll, it’s not very
expensive to buy 1 million or more chips.
We like how detailed the rewards and Challenges are.
You can access multiple challenges at any time, which
makes playing all the more fun. The leveling up system is
also nice and adds a competitive element as you try to out
level your friends and opponents.
Another good aspect to Zynga Poker is the variety of
formats that you can enjoy. Some social poker apps only
offer Texas holdem cash games, but Zynga features Holdem,
Fast & Normal, Shootout tournaments, and Sit N Gos.
One more thing to like about Texas HoldEm is the heavy
social aspect because you can invite Facebook friends, play
in the same games, and chat with fellow players.
Cons of Zynga Poker
The Texas HoldEm lobby is too cluttered, which makes
this game feel intimidating when you first open it. We’re
not saying that online poker neophytes will be completely
lost, but it takes a while to orient yourself to the lobby.
The problem is that there are four icons on the left
hand side that prompt you to get more chips, while the
Challenge section on the right side takes up too much room.
We’d prefer to see the table lobby take up more room on the
Another drawback to Zynga Poker is the constant ads to
purchase chips. It’s alright for Zynga to advertise that you
can buy chips, but pop up ads every 5 10 minutes is
We’re also not fans of how quickly Texas HoldEm forces
you to make decisions.
With many of the cash tables being 5 player max, you’re
already forced to play a lot of hands. Having only a few
seconds to perform actions makes it hard to relax and multi
Zynga Poker started the social gaming boom when it was
launched in 2007. The result of the boom is that people have
thousands of fun social gaming apps to choose from today.
Despite all of the increased competition, Zynga still remains
the gold standard in social poker.
They’ve worked to refine Texas HoldEm based on suggestions
and feedback from players. And while we don’t like all of their
efforts, see the Cons list; the overall product stands out in
the crowded social poker niche.
Don’t let the barrage of chip purchasing ads fool you because
you’ll never have to spend money if you use your starting chips
wisely. Texas HoldEm’s level up system not only gives you goals
to shoot for, but also offers much needed free chips.
These chips come in handy when you want to try all of the
Zynga Poker formats, including Fast Holden, Normal Holden,
Shootouts, and Sit N Gos.
Considering that Zynga has the world’s largest poker site,
you’ll never have any difficulty finding a game.
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