Facebook & Zynga - Texas Holdem
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 achievements.
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 it?
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.
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 friends.
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 room.
This trend hasn't stopped because VentureBeat's Dean Takahashi estimated that over 350 million people had played Zynga Poker by 2014.
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.
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 attendees.
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.
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.
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 gaming.
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 other games.
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.Second
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.
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 Poker Classic.
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.
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.
If you're experienced with downloading apps through a smartphone or tablet, you should have no trouble accessing Zynga Poker.
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 formats include:
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.
- Holdem Fast
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 them.
As long as a seat is available and you have enough chips, you can select a table and choose a seat.
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 hand.
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.
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 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 $10.00.
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.
- 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 screen.
- 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 excessive.
- 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 task.
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.