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Zynga Poker: the 800 lb Gorilla in the Online Poker Room?

Zynga Poker: the 800 lb Gorilla in the Online Poker Room?

Much of the online gambling industry continues to eye the US to see if efforts to repeal the UIGEA in exchange for legal, regulated poker and casino games gains traction, but some are simultaneously keeping a watchful eye on a new potential competitor: Zynga Poker.

Zynga is the developer behind some of the most popular Facebook games such as FarmVille and Mafia Wars, and Zynga Poker is no slouch either; the company claims that Zynga Poker has over 35 million active players, who compete against one another for play chips in ring games and tournaments. If that figure is correct Zynga Poker has a larger active player base than PokeStars or Full Tilt combined, which are currently the #1 and #2 online poker sites in the world.

While Zynga offers apps for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices that let you access and play at Zynga Poker from your mobile device, the majority of its players come via Facebook, which is true for nearly all of Zynga's popular games. The casual, recreational nature of its player base is something other existing online poker sites would drool over, as they've had mixed success to date in tapping into social networking and gaming sites to recruit new casual players (who tend to be the most profitable for online sites).

Despite sitting on what could be a virtual gold mine, Zynga hasn't made any overt moves towards trying to monetize its Zynga Poker player base by either offering its own real money poker site or integrating some sort of boost add-ons or credits that players would have to pay for. This may largely be in part due to the uncertainty of the legal status of online poker and online casino games in the US (where a majority of Zynga Poker players live), but can also likely be attributed to the simple fact that Zynga isn't solely a provider of poker games.

They've had plenty of success monetizing other free games so it's not an alien concept, just one that may require a little more care and caution due to the difficulties involved. Even for online sites it's notoriously difficult to get free chip players to make their first deposit to play for real money, so it's not necessarily a slam dunk. Zynga did cause a stir in March when it held its first Zynga PokerCon event at the Palms in Las Vegas, as the live tournament with a $100,000 prizepool was its first foray ever into the world of offering its players the chance to compete for real money.

12-Apr-2011, 05:03

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