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Zynga Poker – What’s the Deal?

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What sites do you think of when naming the biggest poker rooms online? PokerStars? Full Tilt Poker?┬áSure, but what about Zynga Poker? Zynga is an online gaming company that recently overtook Yahoo as the #1 free online game provider, and also provides one of the biggest Facebook applications online – Zynga Poker.

Almost 25 million Facebook users “Like” Zynga Poker, and the company estimates that almost that many players use the application every month. However, unlike other online poker games, Zynga Poker does not offer real money poker games. So, how did this game become so popular? Why can’t players play for real money? How does Zynga make money? This article will attempt to answer each of those questions…

Zynga Poker History

Zynga Poker was created by, an online gaming company that was founded in January 2007 by Mark Pincus. The company started out creating Facebook and Myspace applications including the wildly popular FarmVille, Mafia Wars, Cafe World, and others. What started as a small group of businessman has turned into an international operation with over 1,250 employees worldwide.

A big reason why Zynga Poker became so popular so quick was because of the social aspect of the game. Zynga poker players can post their session results directly to their Facebook profile, and can also invite their friends to play/give chips to friends. Although players only start with around 10,000 chips in their bankroll, Zynga Poker offers tables with 1.6 billion chip buy-ins, so obviously Zynga players are building enormous bankrolls.

Why Can’t You Play for Real Money on Zynga Poker

Zynga is a USA-faced company with USA-based investors, so we don’t expect them to start offering real money online poker anytime soon due to legislation regarding real money online poker in the USA. Also, a friendly play-money poker room is certainly more targeted to the casual, social visitors that frequent Facebook.

Zynga’s business is focused on selling “virtual goods” and acquiring web impressions to sell advertising – their business outlook is a far cry from a real money online poker room’s, which has completely different goals.

How Does Zynga Poker Make Money?

Zynga Poker is unique in this aspect – instead of raking real money poker games like other online poker rooms, Zynga sells poker chips to players who either run out of chips or would like to boost their bankroll in a hurry. Here are current Zynga poker chip prices through the site’s Facebook app:

Zynga Chip Prices Image

Players can purchase Zynga chips with their credit card, with their Paypal account, or even via bank wire if they want a ton of chips. Rumors abound that Zynga Poker makes most of its money from a small group of “whales” who frequently buy chips in quantities not even listed on the sales page.

Since their launch, Zynga has received venture capital from Google and others which has allowed them to expand into Europe and Asia. Keep your eyes peeled when the USA finally legalizes online poker – Zynga could have a chance to become the biggest online poker room if they choose to enter the real money arena (although it is very hard to convert play-money players to real-money players).

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Written by Bill Nye on October 14th, 2010

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