Disclaimer: This post is full of rumors, conjectures and guesses and is based on my limited poker experience only. This is neither an endorsement nor a rejection of Zynga. I like their games, but I don’t think the company is worth the $10 billion that they are trying to be valuated at. This post is for your entertainment only.
You may ask, when does Mr. RB40 find time to play Zynga poker on Google+? Well, sometimes after I’ve finished all my chores and blog related activities, I like to spend 5-10 minutes on a few hands before going to bed. Anyway, I think Zynga poker is a bit like video poker in that they are both rigged.
If you ever play video poker, you’ll often notice that you are only missing one card to make your hand a winning hand (flush, full house, etc…) The computer is programmed to display an almost winning hand so you will keep playing. (Last warning, this is a rumor. Treat everything that follows as pulp fiction.) The casino operator can adjust the odds on these machines to match the house payout %. This leads me to believe that the machine controls whether you win or lose and it doesn’t really matter what cards you keep/discard. The computer uses a random number generator (RNG henceforth) to figure out if you win or not.
Back to Zynga poker. If you ever play Zynga poker and real poker, you will notice a huge difference. In Zynga poker, you will see a big winning hand very often. You’ll see a flush, straight, full house, and 4 of a kind at least once every few hands. In real time poker, I rarely see these winning hands.
I deduced that the computer’s RNG determines if you win or not and the program will show the most exciting winning hand as possible. So if you draw a 2 and 7 off suit, don’t worry, you can still win with a full house. Since the RNG figures out the winner, everyone has more or less an equal chance to win. On a table of 5 people, if everyone bets every time and carries their hands to the conclusion, each will win around 20% of the time over the long run. So it comes down to – do you have the guts to check or raise every bet? Many times, I had crappy cards, chickened out, but still ended up with the would be winning hand.
Here is the cheat
How do you improve your odds? Well, you can have more seats at the table. You can create a dummy Facebook account and have 2 seats at the same table. An easy way to do this is to have another browser open and log in to your alternate account from there, i.e. player 1 on Firefox, player 2 on Internet Explorer, player 3 on Chrome, etc… If you have multiple computers or if you can remote log in to another one, then you can have even more dummies at the table. This is called collusion according to Wiki.
Anyway, if you have 3 players on a table of 5, all you need to do is bet every time and you’ll win more than 60% of the time. The other 2 players won’t bet every time so you win those by default. It’s just a game, why does it matter? It matters because some people pay for those virtual poker chips. That’s one of the ways Zynga makes money. You can also buy Zynga poker chips on the black market; the exchange rate is around 10 million poker chips for $30. I don’t know how much Zynga sells their chips for since I would never exchange cold hard PayPal “cash” for virtual goods.
update: Zynga sells pokers chips at various rates. You can buy 1 million chips for $50. That is pretty expensive and I’d rather spend $50 going out to a restaurant…
Of course there are ways to detect the cheaters. In real online poker, the operator logs every hands. If they notice a pattern like 3 players sitting together all the time, they will catch the cheater. Zynga, on the other hand, should at least detect if one computer is having 3 browsers open. It shouldn’t be that difficult to check, right? Poker is one of their oldest and most popular game and it lowers my confidence in their competency if they can’t even prevent this easy cheat.
In conclusion – Play Zynga game for free and good luck if you decide to invest in their IPO next week. All right, I’m off to play a few hands before hitting the hay. Have a great weekend & don’t blame me if Zynga kicks you out for cheating.
ps. You should play Zynga poker for fun and not cheat. Or better yet, have you tried Big Kahuna Reef? That’s a great free game from Amazon.