Posts Tagged ‘zynga pokercon’

Zynga Returning to Las Vegas for Live Poker Event?

by , May 14, 2012 | 4:45 am

Though there hasn’t been any official announcement yet, nor do we have any insider knowledge … Pokerati’s exclusive screengrab journalism (and an iPhone that seemed to be buzzing moreso than usual this weekend) can confirm that the world’s largest online poker operation — and the only one with enough cash to buy up Full Tilt AND PokerStars (and Steve Wynn’s personal art collection should they want it) — will be back in Las Vegas for live action poker soon.

Lol to think I was wearing this T-shirt a couple months ago when someone noticed that a full year since the first ever Zynga Pokercon had come and gone with nary a mention, let alone much talk of a second such tournament event.

Gaming Social: Perhaps surprisingly, this photo was not taken with Instagram.

Kinda surprising considering that Zynga’s top executives had been chattering incessantly all Q1 about the company’s future in online gambling … almost as if their stock price depended on it!

But then, players learned this weekend …


OP-ED: ZyngaPoker Pro or Con

Assessing the impact of a Facebook game’s arrival in Las Vegas

by , Mar 27, 2011 | 5:19 pm

Jon Katkin

The Poker Economy

A lot of things have changed in the poker world since the Zynga PokerCon ended here in Las Vegas last Saturday. Partnerships have been approved (Caesars/888), announced (PokerStars/Wynn) and speculated upon (Full Tilt/Station Casinos). Legislation surrounding the legalization of online poker has been introduced and debated in various jurisdictions around the country and, I’m pretty sure that Erik Seidel won another high-stakes tournament somewhere in the world.

In short, it’s been a pretty busy week. And yet, with everything going on – or perhaps, because of it – I still find myself puzzling over Zynga’s potential role as a player in the post-regulation poker economy.

For those of you still unfamiliar with Zynga, they bill themselves as the largest online poker room in the world with a database of approximately 38 million players who compete for chips and tokens that have value only within the confines of Zynga’s proprietary system. In other words, Zynga is a play money site in the truest definition of the word. And yet, they came to Las Vegas last weekend to hold a live event for their fans and players.

Zynga has something every major real money site is looking for: players who have yet to make an initial deposit online. Would Zynga really stay out of real money gaming if someone came along with a partnership offer they couldn’t refuse? I don’t think so.

Populated by attendees who either won or bought their way into the event through Zynga’s site, the two-day conference was an interesting mix of Zynga players and industry insiders who were looking for information on this most mysterious of potential competitors or, perhaps, partners. I can’t speak for anyone else at the conference, but I have to admit that I walked away from the event with no clear answers.

As a fan event, I have to say the PokerCon was a success. For the cost of a $125 entry, Zynga’s players received professional instruction from Annie Duke and a plethora of other name pros, the chance to meet legends like Doyle Brunson and Mike Sexton, free food and drink at a Zynga-sponsored party, and a seat in a $100K tournament with a guaranteed payout of $26,000 to the winner. Not a bad deal, if you ask me.

As a “coming out party” for Zynga Poker, however, I can’t say I was as impressed.


The Second Coming of PartyPoker?

Sexton welcomes new Zynga players; Hellmuth shares his poker-brat services

by , | 2:26 pm

mike sexton zynga pokercon partypoker wpt

Sexton: Ever-gracious ambassador.

I’m pretty sure you’re gonna be hearing about Zynga for awhile … not just because I still have lots of pictures and audio to unload from Zynga’s inaugural PokerCon at the Palms last weekend … but because, imho, as plenty of industry stalwarts seemed to recognize, this company that didn’t even exist in 2006 (that oh-so-glorious year of Jamie-Gold-boom-and-UIGEA-bust) has something that every other big-idea “revolutionary” poker undertaking has lacked since, well, PartyPoker.

Have a listen to Hall-of-Famer Mike Sexton, invited to simply share his brand of poker lore while mingling with Zynga players, give his quick take on the relevance of this relatively small little event and the booming company behind it:

Mike Sexton at Zynga Pokercon 2011

Hellmuth: Party crasher?

Phil Hellmuth musta seen something more than just a $100k freeroll going on, too. Whether delivering a “bonus” to Pokercon attendees out of the kindness of his heart or just because his feelings were hurt for not being asked to take part in Zynga festivities, the “poker brat” slipped in as an uninvited (but presumably still welcome?) guest and revealed his presence at the Pokercon final table to a smattering of gasps and boos. When poker’s self-proclaimed badboy tried to educate the fans that they were supposed to boo him, the nice Zynga people didn’t exactly oblige — giving him instead a polite round of applause. You can tell, however, at least a few in the crowd understood the subtext of his unscripted exchange with host Ali Nejad — effectively trying to put PokerStars back in its (2nd) place.

Phil Hellmuth at Zynga Pokercon 2011

Meet the New Zynga Billionaires

Aaron Alanen takes down Pokercon Event #1

by , Mar 21, 2011 | 4:49 am

Big congrats to Aaron Alanen … who won what may well have been the fastest 490+ player tournament in history this weekend in Las Vegas at the Palms … by taking down the inaugural Zynga Pokercon bracelet. He’s a software consultant from Phoenix, and a real player who enjoys two different poker games — No-Limit Hold’em and PLO. (Nice!)

Before the end, the final six would chop it up, each player taking $10,000, and the winner getting a bracelet and an additional $5,200.

Alanen, 43, seems a humble dude who won’t deny that luck certainly played a big factor in his win. Extra lucky for Zynga, probably, that their first ever real-life champion happens to have the initials AA. Alanen says he plans to give a portion of his winnings to the Red Cross for Japan relief efforts.

Mincast: Aaron Alanen, 2011 Zynga Pokercon Champion

(Though not confirmed: @Sandau on Twitter plausibly seems like he could be Sandau on Full Tilt/Sharkscope. Both appear to be members of the PPA.)

UPDATE: Confirmed. He is both. Plays microstakes NLH and PLO on FTP.

$15k may not seem like much to grizzled poker veterans capable of blowing that on a bad day without a Kleenex, but it’s by far the biggest prize ever paid out in Zynga history … the only one actually. And should Aaron or any of the other final six decide to put their winnings back into the Zynga economy … at the current rate of exchange (handled with ease by American credit card or PayPal) they’d become instant multibillionaires.

$7.3 billion to be more exact … $4.8 billion for 2nd through 6th.

(US$1 = Z$480,000)

Damn, that would be enough to bowl over the Zynga big game, which from what I understand features the most monster-stacked ballers on Zynga playing $1mm/$2mm NLH. They’d also have the option of redeeming their real American brick-and-mortar casino cash in Zynga Casino Gold if they think precious virtual metals are gonna continue to rise in value.

Meanwhile, a simple $10k in real money went to:


Lo and Behold’em

Meet the Zynga Poker Boss

by , Mar 19, 2011 | 7:19 pm

Laurence Toney didn’t make the Bluff Power 20 even though he runs the largest online poker site in the world. (38 million active players, they say, 7.5 million a day!) I know I know … I didn’t vote for him either … but spoiler alert: probably will next year.

Lo, as he’s known, Zynga Poker’s General Manager, aka @lo_toney, is quite the new mystery man in poker. He doesn’t come from a poker background, he comes from YoVille … one of the original Zynga games (and before that, and before that eBay-Collectibles). While YoVille in and of itself is rather fascinating — seriously, they actually have a YoVille media, and do real-life biz with companies the WSOP could only dream about some day seeing on its felts — what that understanding of true social gaming brings to poker remains to be seen.

Check out the RawVegas interview with Lo …

Watch Zynga PokerCon at the Palms with Lo Toney on

… via Wicked Chops

Team Pokerati @ZyngaPoker

Another Mincast and Zynga player profile

by , | 3:40 pm

One thing that is very different here compared to other tournaments seen around Vegas has been the LACK of patched up players in the field. Surely it’s gotta be a matter of politeness from Full Tilt and Stars, right — not wanting to crash this online+live poker newcomer’s coming out party? Saw Doyle Brunson with a Doyle’s Room patch yesterday … but hey, he’s Doyle … and @Pokerati, we have no couth, obv.

So big-good luck to Team Pokerati’s lone representative in the inaugural Zynga Pokercon, Stacey Nutini, aka Stacey Lynn, aka @LasVegasPokers. She just took her seat as alternate #23.

Pokerati Mincast: Team Pokerati @ZyngaPoker

Blind Ambition

Zynga Pokercon Vegas Weekend

by , | 12:18 pm

As the first ever live event for the world’s biggest online poker site (Stars wanna challenge the assertion?) gets underway … we are seeing the super-hyper-turbo nature of free poker play translated to a two-flight weekend at Zynga PokerCon.

There were 45 players left (from the first flight of 250) with blinds at 1,000/2,000. They started with 2,000 chips each, so that translates to … bear with me, doing math here … 18 percent of the field left, 5.5 big blinds for the average stack.

UPDATE (12 minutes later): Blinds just went up. Average stack is now 2.75 BB.
UPDATE (3 minutes later): We are in the money. 27 players remain.
UPDATE (1 minute later): Blinds are up to 3,000/6,000. 3.2 BB for the average.

Though I can hear Matt Savage and Allen Kessler cringing on the inside from wherever they are, the one guarantee with such a faster-than-charity structure is lots of exciting all-in hands. So in some ways reminds me of a WPT broadcast from a few years ago.

CORRECTION: See what happens when you assume? Turns out Matt Savage created this blind structure!

Click the image above to enlarge the blind and payout structures … they play each flight down to 3 … and then sit four others who qualified for ITM seats on Zynga Poker.

Meet the ZyngaPoker Competition

Pokerati Mincast: Zynga People, Montana

by , Mar 18, 2011 | 5:33 pm

Seen here, playing slots outside the poker room at the Palms: Annie Shea (right) and her not-quite ready for Zynga Poker friend Rene Knapp — passing time while waiting to attend the afternoon Annie Duke poker school. Ms. Shea is one of 500 Zynga players who got into this event, which sold out days ago.

(I almost don’t get it … don’t they know about the new trend for late registration!?!)

Shea comes into this event with 7.5 million play-money chips in her bankroll.

Pokerati Mincast: Montana Zynga People


5-Link Minimum

Pokerati’s irregular clickable web guide for pokerers

by , Mar 9, 2011 | 1:13 pm

Tonight’s semi-random collection of websites that have recently caught my eye for various reasons is brought to you by Suited Cribsyour 2011 WSOP housing hookup and VIP services connek!

OK, the links:

G2E Asia — the AGA brings its trade show to Macau, prepping Western gaming industry round-eyes for a new level of expansion in China and across Asia.

PokerGrump — an accidental low-stakes Vegas grinder, respected colleague on the license plate beat, and another guy I read often but don’t link up enough … generally thoughtful insight, and fun “guess the casino” posts, though few are as hard as this one:

highlight for answer

Mandalay Bay — Mike Sexton, Linda Johnson, and Jan Fisher’s philanthropic endeavor has undergone a website redesign as they continue efforts to make sure charity poker tournaments give back as much as possible.

DFW Gambler — don’t know who runs this site, but it kinda-sorta picks up where Pokerati left off upon skipping town, keeping the Dallas/Fort Worth poker scene up to date with solid, regularly updated info on local charity tourneys, big events in Oklahoma and Louisiana, and different free games — whether they be WPT Amateur Leagues or lesbian bar poker at Sue Ellen’s. Bingo, too!

The Poker Life Coach — Jen Dunphy was once responsible for keeping Harrah’s employees on their A-game, and now brings her motivational services to MGM Resorts. Not sure if she’s more happy drill sergeant or corporate therapist … but for poker players needing to work on their life skills (she won’t give up names of clients? Balls!) it seems she’s no Sam Chauhan … but then again, she’s also no Sam Chauhan.

Live Poker Training — Not sure if Shaun Deeb needs a life coach or just a mom. But either way, he’s got a boot camp March 26-27 … for players wanting to learn how to win so much money it doesn’t matter if you never learned to throw away pizza boxes or lift the toilet seat.

Zynga PokerCon 2011 — you know they are new to poker when they call their inaugural event Poker CON. But the best we can tell, even though the folks at Zynga supposedly have made millions without paying out any winners, they aren’t the second coming of UB … but they could well be proof that recreational players are more valuable than online pros. And they’ve hired me (along with Michele Lewis and BJ Nemeth) to tell you all about the Zynga version of BARGE — so already we think they’re great, obv!

Allied Service

Suited Cribs — The guys to handle your WSOP housing needs, and all variety of poker services, from laundry runs and VIP transportation to nightclub line passes. Say you heard about them from Pokerati for a special surprise AND to have me personally check out your summertime Vegas rental to make sure the internet works and no pillows smell like urine.

World Series of Farmville?

Poker world, pros making sense of Zynga Pokercon, imaginary kitties

by , Mar 4, 2011 | 11:45 am

I knew early on that Zynga was gonna be kinda a friggin’ big deal, with plans to get even bigger. While just about every other online poker entity has struggled with receding revenues of late, Zynga has seen theirs take off. But how? You don’t even play for real money there (yet) …

In an effort to better understand the secret to Zynga’s success, I went to the Texas Hold’em Poker Facebook fan page for preliminary research, and omg, here’s what I found:

zynga pokercon pokerati

Zynga Poker fans: It’s a good bet that the majority of commenters and likers here aren’t familiar with the phrase “don’t tap the aquarium”.

Yeow. Is this what poker has been missing all along? Power Hours and Free Kitties!?!

So simple, so brilliant … how did PokerStars or Full Tilt not think of it? Forget rakeback, black cards, rush poker, final-table patches, re-entry and cashout tournaments … just give away a few cartoon images and let the people play! And that’s when they rebuy?

OK, maybe I don’t have the Zynga equation down exactly yet, but that’s some of what I’ll be looking into as Zynga’s inaugural PokerCon comes to Las Vegas, March 18-19, at the Palms. I’ll be part of a team covering Zynga PokerCon with Michele Lewis and BJ Nemeth.