Zynga Poker Skill Matching May Increase Player Spend

September 9, 2014
Zynga Poker Skill Matching May Increase Player Spend

Zynga released a new app for its Texas Hold’em Poker game last week.  The update involved many improvements.

A better interface was included, as were enhancements to the lobby to help with game selection.  The table felts were changed to mimic more of a live poker room experience, as opposed to the cartoon imagery in the older version.

The card animation was also improved to become more lifelike.  The app will also not allow players to wager more than the highest amount of chips than an opponent still in the hand to help clean up the pot display.

The app is now even more removed from its Facebook relationship.  The standalone app still connects to Facebook profiles upon request of the user, however, it has become more of a standalone app.

The most important change may be that players are now rated internally.  This rating is then compared to other players at active tables.  Players are matched with opponents that are considered to be on the same level.  This creates a couple of new scenarios.

Players that are annoyed by the lack of serious play at Zynga will not have to share tables with poor players as the algorithm is implemented.  One complaint about social poker games is the number of players that simply want to go all in every hand or otherwise play poorly.  This will help separate players with different goals from each other and improve the player experience.

The player matching will also help Zynga generate revenue.  This model is used in other skill-based gaming.  Some online poker rooms have even tried this in an attempt to punish winning players.

While skill matching has always failed in real money gaming, it seems to be a good fit for Zynga Poker.

Zynga Poker charges rake when players enter tournaments. This takes chips out of the economy.  If players are evenly matched, no player will run away with all of the chips.  The tournament rake will slowly empty player accounts.  Those that wish to continue to play the same limits will be forced to pay cash to stay in those games.

There are also other ways that Zynga removes chips from the tables.  Players may tip the dealer or buy gifts for other players at the table.  Players that need help with their hand may pay 10% of the pot to have the software tell them the value of their hand.  This charge only occurs when a player wins.  It is an optional feature.

Several items stayed the same.  The only game available is No Limit Texas Hold’em.  Players may choose between cash games and sit and gos of varying limits. There are Freezeout tournaments that mimic steps.  A 2,000 chip entry fee gives players a seat in the first event and two higher steps provide players with big chip windfalls should they win or place.

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