The game of poker has been in the news of late for plenty of reasons.
The World Series of Poker is going ahead in Las Vegas and has already made a new poker millionaire, Dan Lazrus. That will inspire many to take up the game, aspiring to be like him, or others such as Chris Moneymaker, who has gone before him. In some states, legislation has relaxed, meaning players can participate in money games online, although that isn’t the case in all states. For many, the closest you can get to online poker is a free app, such as Zynga Poker from the Zynga Games back catalogue of titles.
Zynga Poker has been around for many years, and at one time, it was the most popular free-to-play poker game on the site. As Poker.org reveals, poker is one of the most popular games anywhere on the planet, which means a steady stream of players. At one time, Zynga had 61% of the total poker revenue market. That might sound odd for a free-to-play game, but they monetized their title by offering users the chance to buy extra coins and hosting monetized games outside of the United States. However, it remains free-to-play if that is how you wish to indulge.
The game looks as slick as you’d expect, with it being refined and developed over the course of a decade or more. The menus are big and bright, and there are plenty of options for players. This isn’t just a poker simulation, but there are challenges for players to rise to and competitive leagues to pit you against players of a similar ability.
There are multiple options for players, including event challenges, hold ’em cash tables and the World Poker Tour tournament center, which Venturebeat.com reports also has a spin-and-win mode for added entertainment. It is a mode that gives players the chance to play short tournaments and a final chance to win ten times their buy-in simply by spinning a wheel.
There’s no doubt that the one-time free-to-play model, a key USP of Zynga, has been dwarfed by the desire to rake in some of that market share. At one time, the app was making Zynga millions of dollars per year, but as competition has increased and legislation relaxed, more providers have set up, damaging their reach. That means the focus is on pay-to-play poker, which is a shame. Given that the app started life as a Facebook game, providing simple social poker, it is disappointing to see the focus shift from social to monetization, but it is almost inevitable. The app is now available on Android and iOS and is free to download.
There has been criticism in the past of the fairness of games, but that isn’t something a gamer should be concerned about, courtesy of monetization. By offering money games, the developers are more stringently regulated, which reflects well on those wishing to play for free, as they use the same RNG and game engine for both genres.
The main focus is on Texas Hold’em, which is the most popular poker variant. Many people understand poker basics and, therefore can pick up and play quite quickly. The game runs well and looks gorgeous; the menus are crisp, and nice in-game touches such as avatar display and social chat add a more social element to the game. You feel more connected, not quite as you would around an actual table, but more so than in many pay-to-play providers.
Overall, Zynga Poker is a good, solid free-to-play game with great graphics and sound, but only if you can ignore the developer’s desire to get you to play money games.