Zynga CEO Mark Pincus may be softening his stance towards real money online poker, if his recent acquisition of the poker tracking software developer MarketZero is any indication. Reports are that Pincus has the company’s entire 16-man roster working on a major overhaul of Texas Hold ‘Em, one of Facebook’s most popular games.

Plenty of Reasons

No one should be too surprised if Zynga enters the real money poker market should legalization build a head of steam. After all, if current industry trends continue, Zynga could lose a major piece of the social media poker audience in just a few months.

For Starters, Zynga commands such a huge piece of the poker pie, that they’re well suited to make the transition to real money play. There’s already an indication that Facebook may allow legal in site gaming (in countries where it’s already legal) in the very near future and that could really impact the tech darling. Should that happen, play money games like Texas Hold ‘Em could lose a big chunk of their, very large, player base.

Still, there’s really nothing holding Zynga back from pairing up with a licensed UK poker room and going to town. If there’s a chance they’ll lose players who want to spend real money, they could serve that market, too. The fact that they’ve purchased a poker tracking software firm to redesign their site does bring up some fair speculation.

And creating a poker site now may fend off serious competition from other tech/gaming team ups like Google and Bwin.

Recommended Reading: Facebook and Social Gaming: The Future of Online Poker?

IPO Cash Concerns

Despite its high profile in the tech world, Zynga is not quite as stable as it might appear to outsider. It’s no secret that their recent IPO was not quite the raging success it was predicted to be. On top of that, their once sky high user base for social games like Farmville has been shrinking by millions every month.

In this environment, the company could really benefit from the kind of quick fix cash that real money gaming could provide. Remember, once a company goes public, they’ll be faced with continued demands from investors to keep increasing revenues, year in and year out.

Shifting Sands

The online poker business has been on a real roller coaster ride in the past twelve months. Many online poker rooms were put in the precarious positions of both battling the Department of Justice just to stay open, while simultaneously preparing for the eventuality that online poker would be made legal.

Events on the social gaming side have been less dramatic, but no less impactful. Zynga’s the big dog at Facebook today, but if real gambling comes to the site, all bets are out the window.


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