The world of social poker and major tournament poker aligned a bit more on Monday as the World Poker Tour and social game developer Zynga announced a partnership that will include adding tour-branded elements to the popular Zynga Poker.
Zynga Poker is the most popular free social poker game in the world, and already has a multi-year partnership with the tour and sponsored previous WPT events. The partnership adds to that with new WPT digital options for Zynga players.
Expanded poker presence
The agreement and new offerings also offer the WPT a chance to market its tournaments and offerings to an already poker-friendly audience with a chance to bring those players into live, real-money tournaments.
“We are incredibly thrilled to see the next step in the transformational multi-year partnership between the World Poker Tour and Zynga Poker come to life with the launch of WPT-themed tournaments on the world’s largest free-to-play poker platform,” WPT CEO Adam Pliska said. “Featuring state-of-the-art integrations and enhanced gameplay, millions of Zynga Poker players around the world can now experience the true feeling of competing on the global World Poker Tour stage.”
The new Zynga/WPT tournament features include:
- Authentic WPT Experience – Players can play like a pro in the new WPT mode.
- Higher Stakes and Bigger Payouts – Zynga offers a wider range of stakes for winning more virtual chips.
- Faster Tournaments – Players can now compete at traditional nine-handed tables or new five-handed tables for faster play.
The game is available for free on the App Store and on Google Play. Zynga officials believe the partnership adds to its product offerings for fans of its poker game.
“Our Zynga Poker players are an extremely passionate group who aspire to feel like true poker champions,” said Bernard Kim, President of Publishing. “Our World Poker Tour-themed tournaments enhance our free-to-play Zynga Poker social casino experience and bring the most premier name in the sport of poker directly into the player’s hands. We are thrilled to invite the World Poker Tour into our virtual world to create an even more authentic and immersive experience that players will love.”
A more global company
The new deal with Zynga goes along with the WPT’s focus on transitioning beyond being just a production company that films and broadcasts tournaments. At a media event in May, company officials said they are becoming more of a global entertainment company with poker as a central dynamic. The company also now has more than two dozen partners, including major brand names like Dr Pepper, Hublot watches, and Hennessy cognac. Zynga is also part of that list as well.
As part of the Zynga deal, the two companies also announced that they will be co-sponsoring NASCAR driver Matt DiBenedetto’s car as he competes in the South Point 400 this weekend, fittingly running in Las Vegas. DiBenedetto is 30th in the Monster Energy Cup standings behind the wheel of the No. 32 Ford Fusion. The sponsorship offers an opportunity for the two poker brands to be seen by a wider audience in the sports world.
The Zynga announcement is one of many from the WPT over the last few months. The company, which is now in its 17th season, announced a partnership in May with MGM Resorts at the new Esports Arena at the Luxor Hotel and Casino. The tour is expected to begin hosting all its final tables at the property beginning in March and may offer more esports events as well.
“It’s exciting to see how we’ve embraced this and MGM has embraced this,” Pliska said about the new arena. “I think we’re going to do some real innovative things.”
In August, the WPT also announced a four-year agreement with partypoker LIVE to co-produce up to seven events across Canada and Europe, each with a prize pool guarantee of up to €3 million. The first event is the WPT Montreal event in October, which features events across the WPT spectrum including the Main Tour, DeepStacks, and WPT 500. Live streams the new events will be available through the “My partypoker LIVE” app.
Along with its new deals and partnerships, the tour continues to operate its ClubWPT online poker site. The tour is expected to announce its 2019 events soon.