(2020 edit: I haven’t played this game in years and came back on a whim to see what’s new, and I have some new thoughts on the strategy portion at the bottom of this section)
Some blogs try and attempt to explain winning strategy in Zynga No Limit Hold ‘Em Poker, the secrets of Zynga poker, the Zynga poker “cheats”, etc., but the problem is that they try too much to adapt real money strategies into the play money game of Zynga Poker. Doing this will simply not work. This is Zynga and it’s an entirely different world from real money and it needs to be played as such. This is not to say that there is nothing from real money strategy that works, it’s just that things need to be tweaked a bit and that’s what I’m going to explain to you here.
This entire strategy will simply be one single entry to this blog. I challenge anyone to disprove it doesn’t work when followed to a tee over a 2 week period or so. I would really like to see people leave comments and say how they have done. Just one favor though please be honest with yourself that you were indeed following the advice given here to a tee. I know it can be extremely hard for people to adopt a strategy and just toss away their bad habits over night, so i would think it’d be a very rare person that could probably read this and automatically forget the way they had been playing up till this point. So once all the bad habits are flushed away and you can incorporate the advice here, give yourself a week or two of some decent hours of play time and let us know how you’re doing.
Now on with the strategy.
There’s a huge difference in play style between playing Zynga Poker for play money and playing poker for real money. When it comes to real money, well, you’re playing with real money. You’re probably emotionally attached to this money and play very conservatively with it (or at least you should be unless you’re a seasoned veteran that can play a very aggressive game because you’re good with exploiting players’ tendencies and good with math and know when you’re truly getting your money in good). In a real money game, you wouldn’t be raising or even calling 6-7 offsuit or A-10 when you’re first to act in a hand for example, yet people do this in Zynga poker all the time.
People do stupid things like this when playing Zynga Poker because it’s play money. Sure there’s still some emotional attachment to the “money”, but no where close compared to when it’s real money. This is why people playing Zynga Poker frankly play like idiots; they’re emotionally detached from the money and are willing to gamble it up.
Realize as well that you can in no way use Zynga Poker as a training ground before taking the leap into real money.
You will get killed. Trust me.
Zynga Poker for play money is a game all unto itself. Yes it’s similar to real money in that it uses chips, and there’s cards, and the hands are the same, but betting patterns and skill at real money cash tables are completely different and it is a whole ‘nother world.
Everyone thinks they’re a better player than you, and there’s little respect for your action.
Another seemingly general rule in Zynga Poker is that every player thinks they are better than every other poker player. You are probably even one of these people. I’d say probably 75% of poker players think they’re better than 75% of other poker players. Well of course that math doesn’t add up. The Dunning-Kruger effect is very real in the poker world. People think they can bluff others off hands, and in turn they always feel they are being bluffed by someone they feel is just a gambler looking for some action. This is however likely more true in play money games rather than when playing for real. It would make sense because a smart player would realize that most people just download these poker apps to have fun and gamble and you’re likely to be playing with 70 year old grandmas who don’t really have a clue what they’re doing. This is why so many people call practically any bet with any hand. You know as well as I do that people go all in with the most idiotic of hands… 2-5 offsuit with A-10-8 on board.. They don’t care. So please realize the likely skill level of the playerbase.
Most people don’t want to think about strategy in play money games, they think poker is all about gambling and that’s all they’re there to do. When you see a picture of a player at the table who looks like a 60 year old woman holding her cat, you can be certain that person most likely is not there to contemplate the inner workings of the game. They are there to have fun and gamble. Some people love the thrill of the gamble over mulling over strategy and winning on their own merits. This is what you need to capitalize on, but also unfortunately why you can’t expect to rake in money quick because you really do need to play tighter in these games than maybe you currently think you should.
So OK, what does it take to get rich at Zynga Poker then mister blogger guy that knows everything? Well that answer is two fold, and back in 2011 when I first wrote this, I would only have the answer which will follow in the next paragraph. But now trying the game again in 2020, I feel there possibly is two answers, and one of them is a bit nefarious and disappointing. The first is…
Fold fold fold and fold some more. The majority of your hands per hour may be just folding. Boring right? This sounds idiotic to newbies, but do you want to win and use skill and observation to your advantage or do you just want to gamble and cross your fingers?
Common sense will tell you that if you’re sitting at a table with 8 other people, and you have K-4 of clubs, and it’s checked to you and there’s 5 more people to bet after you, you do not raise this hand. You don’t even call trash like K4. I don’t care if it’s suited or not and it looks pretty and ohhh you have a KING!
Shut up and fold.
Your powers of observation should be telling you that many hands will get shoved all in by someone, and these people will show down with anything. I’ve seen people shove all in with trash with no hope of winning thinking that they will bluff others out of the pot and scoop up the dead money, and this is idiotic in play money, because as I mentioned… People think they’re being bluffed by everyone else and think they’re better than everyone else. Egos run wild in poker, even play money. What’s funny is that people will call that all in shove with equally bad hands. People will also call all in shoves with much better hands.
This is why you don’t bet in Zynga poker unless you know you are good. It is usually fruitless to use logic and think that the player behind you should fold to a bluff raise because there’s no way logically they would have called the raise on the flop in their positions and based on their action pre flop, etc. etc.
Stuff like that is GREAT to think about when it comes to real money, but it’s pointless playing on play money poker apps.
Top two pair or better on the flop for Zynga poker (As long as the board isn’t paired, creating the danger of 3 of a kind or a Full House) seems to be good enough since people typically call with much much worse. Then you just start getting the money in the pot. Bet enough to keep the person in the pot, don’t price him out if you think he’s not as much of a crazy player as most are who will shove all in over your bet with a garbage hand. Last thing you want to see is the flop come As 4d Ts with you holding AhTc and you don’t bet enough, the other guy calls, and then the turn comes another spade. Now what? If your opponent has any spade in his hand, he’s got a whopping 9 outs to beat you. What are the chances of this guy not folding now if you shove all in while hoping your top 2 pair holds on the river? Should have bet more on the flop to scare the villain out of the pot and saved yourself the aggravation!
This is the kind of thinking ahead you need to win.
OK I’ll learn some patience but how do I deal with so many all in bets?!
So if many hands end up being all in, then what do you do? Simple. Fold hands unless they are the top tier of hands pre flop. QQ, KK, AA, AK, AQ, KQ are really the only hands you should usually be RAISING with pre flop, especially in early position, and you should be raising BIG. I play currently at the $200k buyin tables, and I can tell you even raising 7k preflop, you will still have people showing down garbage hands on the river. You want to raise these hands because these are good hands to try and get the money in with at the table pre flop. NEVER raise on any street when playing Zynga poker unless you’re prepared to go all the way to the river with your hand and even possibly go all in before the river. There is practically never anyone folding to raises, so never ever bluff without a super good read on your opponent. The winner of this game is the one with the most patience to wait for bomb hands and get it all in good and hope for the best…
At least… it should be the reason. Again, read till the end where I will discuss something else that could be playing into your wins on Zynga.
As you get closer to being on the button (you have the dealer chip), you can consider raising weaker pocket hands if the people ahead of you have all checked. Remember raise big. Think of it this way… If the people in early position had a good hand they most likely would have raised it up to both build a pot and protect their hand. If you have K-K, you want to chase out the people that would call with 5-6 or 8-10, etc. So id you’re on the button for example, and its checked to you, and you have Q-J, raise it up! But you have to raise it many big blinds. If you’re playing on the $10k buyin tables then the big blind will be $100. I would raise it up to $1k, but even then some people might still be calling because they figure it’s only $1k. Remember there’s not a lot of emotional attachment to this money, so you need to test the waters of your table and see what size bet most people are willing to call pre flop and whereabouts they start to fold.
Whether you want to bet enough to keep certain people in or out of the pot depends on your hand, your position, and hopefully what you’ve picked up about the player from watching him play. For example if you hold A- A on the button and its checked to you and you have the blinds left to act, and you know the small blind always raises over a bet from the button if they bet $1k or under, AND usually shoves all in when someone 4 bets him back, then you have your answer as to how much and whether to bet. Bet sizing is an art and you can only get better at it by paying attention to who you’re playing with.
Position can play a huge part in hands. This is one tenet of real poker that can still translate over to Zynga play money poker relatively intact without much tweaking.
Realize that if you act last in a hand, you are at a huge advantage. You get to see what the other players are doing with their bets which can reveal a lot about their hand strength, then you get to choose what to do.
If you’re seated in late position during the hand, and the pot hasn’t been raised yet, then you can usually be pretty confident people’s hands suck. It’s surely possible someone is slow playing a pocket bomb hand, though most do not, and people usually play their hands face up so to speak pre flop; raising with good, folding with bad, checking with speculative. In other words I think most of the time if someone has pocket aces, they will raise big rather than just check raise. Although to go off on a bit of a strategy tangent here, I think from experience that if I was in early position with pocket aces, it would be better to check knowing that someone is most likely going to raise behind you. You can then check raise and see how many people think you’re bluffing.
If you’re in the big or small blind when it’s checked around to you, and you have speculative hands like 6-7 suited, a pocket pair or TT, KT, etc., Then just limp in to see a cheap and see what the flop brings you. Careful raising in the blinds because you will be first to act the next street. It’s always to your advantage to act last. If it’s just blind on blind then as the big blind you have the advantage over the small blind as you get to act after they do.
Just be aware that the smarter players out there will know another smart player when they encounter one, and they will know that you know that their betting actions are supposed to dictate their hand strength, but of course because they know this, they can and will intentionally do the opposite of what you expect them to do so they can trap you down the line. It gets tricky. Just understand you need to be aware of possibilities like this, but always first and foremost consider your hand strength vs. what you think your opponent’s hand strength could possibly be. Then you can start attempting to discern mind games or play them yourself.
What I have noticed is that even if you don’t manage to get a lot of money in the pot pre flop or on the flop, people seem more than willing to get it all in on later streets anyway, so seeing cheap flops by limping is a decent strategy in Zynga Poker whereas not so much in real cash games. If you don’t improve your hand, do not bet, simple as that. Don’t try bluffing, I’m telling you it practically never works. People can have anything in a limped pot for example, so if the flop comes 7-2-8, it’s completely possible someone limped in with 7-2 and now have 2 pair. Bluffing doesn’t work often enough on Zynga to make even the occasional bluff profitable.
Yes this is a boring play style, but it’s the winning play style for when it comes to Zynga poker. The money will indeed come slower, but over the long term, your win rate will be much more steady and you will have less swings to your bank roll. Don’t get frustrated when you see some all in donkey at your table with 5 times the amount of chips you’re sitting with. He is on a heater as they say, and I can guarantee that while he may have more chips than you right now, in a week’s time you will have more when it’s all said and done by playing conservative boring poker. Don’t think about the here and now, think about the long term.
I haven’t played Zynga in years and just came back on a whim to check it out in 2020. Now you can see some stats of other players including their win%. Sad to say but the win% of players who are completely objectively bad players based on their betting actions and cards shown down on the river do not match their win%. In other words, horrible players who I know would get crushed in real money games have very high win%, which leads me to believe that Zynga is indeed rigged and these players are those who spend real money on the game. I am fully convinced that these players are being rewarded with that gambling excitement by riding horrible hands to the river as gratitude for being someone spending real money. The numbers and actions just do not add up for me to take Zynga seriously anymore, sorry.
So maybe just don’t play on Zynga unless you plan on spending real money and you’re looking for that gambler’s excitement?
That’s really the gist of beating Zynga poker. While you may like Zynga poker as a fun past time, you need to realize that it’s pretty much a joke in comparison to real money cash games. This is not “poker”. It’s “like” poker, that’s about it.. I’d honestly ask yourself if it’s that important to you that you sit in a play money Zynga poker game for hours on end just folding cards and waiting for a bomb hand to play just so you can have a huge play money bank roll that doesn’t mean anything in life. You’re not learning much about the real game of poker as it’s played in casinos and online for real money. You’re not making any money. I would rather see someone risk some real money and start playing micro stakes games online or spend time reading strategy books or watching videos to at least learn something worthwhile and possibly be on the road to making real money.
If you’re still intent on becoming a Zynga Poker king however, try these tips for a while and report back in the comments how it’s working for you.
Now that you’ve read all of that, theres one more thing I think you should read about as well: BANKROLL AND VARIANCE: Knowing what limits to play at so you don’t go broke.
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