Shawn's Turn: Hmmm, did I play this right?

Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 2.23.51 PMI want to first thank everyone for watching my weekly Play of the Day and all the great comments and feedback you have given.

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A lot of you have told me I suck. And you know what? I do suck. That's the whole point, right?

I'm not a dude trying to be a poker pro. We released Play of the Day to let people like you and me who are big poker fans have a chance to talk about poker hands.

Like most of you, I don't have access or the opportunity to talk about my hands on TV like the pros do. Play of the Day is a chance for Zynga Poker players to get in on some of the action. Pcitures say a 1,000 words, and being able to visualize your poker hand and talk about poker is what this is really all about.

In this week's play, I won with a top pair. But I'm not sure I made the right move. I'd love to get your feedback on how you would play this hand. 

I'm pretty confident until the turn hits, which pairs the board with an 8. I have to assume my opponent could have trip 8s.

For those who are new to poker, trips are different than a set. Trips are when you have a 3-of-a-kind with 1 hole card and 2 cards on the board or there is a 3-of-a-kind on the board.  A set means you have a pocket pair with a matching card to complete your 3-of-a-kind.

 

My opponent makes a bet that's less than 10% of a $2 million pot. I wonder if he is trying to go for a spade draw. This move is called a semi-bluff because he's betting that he is representing something that he doesn't have but hopes that he can draw into.

I'm not convinced that he has trip 8s or a flush and I'm willing to make a big bet to push him all in. I have top pair and I'm representing absolute strength. Though I win the pot because my opponent ultimately folds, I'm not entirely sure I made the right move.

 How would you play this hand? Let me know!

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Shawn's Turn: How to Play Heads Up Poker

Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 2.23.51 PMWhen it gets down to two players in a tournament and you're at a disadvantage, you need to look for premium hands to make your move. But having a good hand isn't a guarantee of winning. Sometimes it depends on what your opponent does.

PRE-FLOP: I'm down to the final 2 players of a $10,000,000 chip Sit'n'Go. My opponent has a 2:1 chip advantage. The way the blinds are structured, I have just a little over 10 big blinds left.

Shawn_1In this particular Play of the Day, I luck out with an Ace Queen (AQ) offsuit. I have a good hand. When you’re in a heads up situation like that, a huge range of hands suddenly becomes very playable for you.

My opponent basically limps in and calls the blind. But I’m not going to let him get off that cheap. If you feel you have the advantage over your opponent, you want to punish them for calling you. In this particular case, I have no reason to think that my opponent has anything stellar because they simply limped in, so I raise and they call.

FLOP: This is an amazing flop (2-2-Q). I have top pair. In fact I have 2 pairs with an ace kicker. I feel like I'm in really good shape. 

If my opponent has a 2, I feel very sad. But he called my raise pre-flop. I have no way of putting him on anything other than a queen. But if he has a queen, I have the ace kicker. I feel really good about this hand.

I check because I'm acting first, and I feel I can get more information and see what he does. Sure enough, he bets out $200.

$200 into a $1200 pot with so many chips is really a probe bet. He’s making a bet to see whether or not I hit that. I call the flop.

My plan is if he does another squirrely bet like that at the turn, I’m probably going to spring on him.

THE TURN: A queen! That's huge for me. I check and he bets out a small bet again. That's like an 8:1 bet into a $1,600 chip pot. I might as well seal the deal here, but I don't want to scare him off.

I make a raise of $800 into a $1800 chip pot now.That’s a big raise for what he bet out. But I want to tell him that I have something.

It gets interesting now. In a million years I would not have expected him to re-raise here. I honestly don't know what he is thinking. If he has a queen, we're going to chop the pot because we both have a full house. Maybe he has 3-2 suited, but I'm more than happy to just do another bump.

Sure enough he pushed me all in, and I call.

 

THE RIVER: The 3 is irrelvant. My opponent has a 2-8 offsuit. He had 2s over queens, and I had queens over 2s. That's a tough position for him to be in.

More than anything else, this was less about me making the right move and my opponent making a bad move, which started with the pre-flop.

A 2-8 offsuit is the second worst hand in poker. This doesn't matter if there are 9 players or 2 players at the table. Limping in is a bad move. It's a chip leak. People often put money into a pot as a small blind thinking, 'I have a 3-9 offsuit, but this only cost $100 into an $800 pot. Who knows, something magical can happen.'

Chances are with a 3-9 offsuit, nothing magical is going to happen. One of the best things a player can learn to do is fold your hand. If your hand is stinky, and you're up against 5 other players, fold!

You know what happens next hand? You get a brand new set of cards and you can try something with those.

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Goodbye to that Poker racing feature

Screen shot 2012-04-23 at 5.19.12 PMAll good things must come to an end in order to make way for even better things. We are phasing out the feature that asks you to accomplish goals like “get more buddies” or “install game bar”.
 
The Zynga Poker team is actively reviewing every part of the game to make it better. Sometimes that means removing features that no longer serve their purpose.
 
Many of our community think it’s time to let go of this feature. We agree with you and appreciate your feedback, so let’s take a moment of silence to say goodbye to “Complete the steps to win the race.”


Here’s to new and improved features that make Zynga Poker the best poker game around!

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Shawn's Turn: How to beat the bingo players

Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 2.23.51 PMThe three most important thing about poker are: position, position, position. Being able to act last as the button lets you get a slew of information.

As many poker professionals have said, poker is a game about making decision on incomplete information. If you are the first to take action, you're acting with less information than your opponents.

Shawn_1PRE-FLOP: In this particular example I am playing a $10k/$20k regular table with eight other players. As the button, I get the luxury of seeing callers before me. I'm face with AK suited, and that's a really strong hand. I want to lead and raise six times the big blind because I had 2 players limp in before me. This was a big bet, but it wasn't a bingo play (shoving all-in).

Honestly, I love playing against bingo players. It can be very frustrating for you to get in the best of it with a bingo player. You need to continue playing good solid poker and wait for a premium hand. Chances are you're going to beat bingo players on average more than they are going to beat you because they typically go all-in with a less than a premium hand.

Now back to my hand! My $120,000 chip bet forces the blinds who limped in to make a $100,000 chip bet in order to stick around and play with me. If they're making that sort of call, I'm happy to play with my AK suited.

Four players are going in.

FLOP:  This flop - a rainbow 6-7-K - is a really sad flop for me. It's time to turn those lemons into lemonade.

There's a standard move when you make a raise pre-flop. You want to follow up with a bet after the flop, also known as a continuation bet. What you're doing is continuing the story that you have the best hand.

Now there are 2 things you’re going to see here in action. I can see that all three of my opponents checked. So that tells me one of two things. They are waiting to see what I am going to do or they didn’t necessarily hit the board. I make a raise of $260,000 chips because I'm making a claim to the pot.

Telling the story is very important. When you make your actions, you are trying to sell the players at the table on something. Here I'm saying, 'I have this pot right now. Are you guys going to stick around? You want to punish your opponent for trying to draw.

 

I'm making a big bet that I'm representing that I have the king. It's very helpful in this instance to make a continuation bet onto a board that has a big card like that – the king. (Lemonade!) The big raise I did pre-flop makes people think I have pocket kings, king/queen, or ace/king. Definitely king something.

Because the players at the table haven’t played with me that long, when they see a bet like that, they have to make the assumption that I have the best hand at the table.

If you start disbelieving all the betting actions of every one that you play against, you’re going to be out of the chips really quickly. You’re going to consistently lose because nine times out of ten in Zynga Poker when someone makes a substantitve bet, chances are they have that. And that’s thepower of the continuation bet.

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Zynga Poker Reaches 60 Million Fans!

60 Million Fans!  Today we are proud to announce that we have reached 60 Million Facebook Fans across the world.  Our heartiest thank you goes out to each one of our fans for your continued loyalty and support.  It would have not been possible without each and every one of you.  As we continue to our next milestone of 70 Million Fans, we look forward to getting to know you better, having exciting sweepstakes, promotions, fan gifts, events, and new poker features throughout the year.  Thank you for being a fan of Zynga Poker and connecting with us.  You would be the absolute nuts if you were a poker hand, the best hand possible.

  12 4:07 PM - Lun Chan

To celebrate this huge milestone and thank our fans, we are giving free rainbow dice to all of our fans today.  Click here to get your free collectible dice!  We look forward to seeing you on the tables.  From the entire Zynga Poker Team, we are wishing you the best of luck and skill, both on and off the table.

Did you know that 60 Million…

Zynga Poker Facebook Fans Rock

Zynga Poker Fans are from all over the world

Is close to the size of country of Italy

Is how many miles the planet Mercury is from the Sun

Pennies for your thoughts would be $600,000

Miles could allow you to travel around the earth 2,400 times

People would fill up over 1000 Sports Stadiums

Would account for almost the number of 52 card decks sold each annually

Is double the number of visitors to Vegas annually

Is 23 times higher than the total number of hand possibilities in a 52 card deck

Equals the number of minutes in 114 years

Is a pretty epic chip stack

Our 60 Million Facebook Fans have a place to enjoy playing poker with friends…

anytime and any day.

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Shawn's Turn: Play of the Day

Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 2.23.51 PMNot every hand is a winner. 

Far from it, actually – in Texas Hold ‘em, you should only be getting involved in roughly 20% of the hands you get dealt. That said, having Pocket Rockets is no guarantee that you’ll win after the flop, turn, and river hit the board. Sometimes, you get a bad beat put on you.

Shawn_1Play of the Day not only captures great victories, but every so often it also picks up on those hands where your very good hand is beaten by an even better hand. Sometimes you get trounced on the river when your opponent hits that one-outer. Sometimes you were behind from the start but never knew it.  That’s poker, and telling the story of poker would be incomplete without showing those bad beats.

PRE-FLOP: It’s early in a $1,000,000 Sit-N-Go, and I don’t have much information on anyone yet.  One person has been booted already who decided that going all in pre-flop with J-3 offsuit was a good call.  I love playing against bingo players like that, but unfortunately I didn’t have the hand needed to make a stand.  Blinds are 10/20, and I’m two off the button.

I have 2-2 – a pair of ducks!  Honestly, two deuces aren’t that stellar here.  Sure, I’m leading against hands that are not a pair, but it’s a very slim lead.  In fact, I’m a very slight underdog heads-up against A-K suited if I don’t hold any of my opponent’s suits.

Still, I want to see a flop on the cheap, looking for my set.  UTG (Under the Gun – the first player to act) limps in for 20, as does the player to my right.  For me, that’s a fair price to see what happens next, so I call.  If the raises start flying, I’m going to back out.

No one calls ahead of me, and the blinds bring in the action.  I’ll actually be last to act after the flop, which is great position to make some moves if I can.

FLOP: It’s the Flop of the Beast: 6-6-6! I have a full house, but it’s the weakest of all the full houses possible.  If I am going to win this hand, I need to win it right now.  All four players behind me check, and this lets me make a bit of a move here.  I jam 80 into a pot of 100, which is a good-sized bet.  Any pocket pair beats me, but my bet is hopefully selling the story that I have a bigger piece of the board than I actually have.

 

Everyone folds until the player to my right pushes all in for 100 (call of 80 and 20 more to put him in).  That was a great move on his part, and I was lucky he didn’t have more chips.  He check-raised me, and that is a powerful move when you are out of position like my opponent was.  If he shoves all in before I act, it gives me a chance to fold and get out of the way.  Unfortunately for him, he was low on chips.  It’s a very easy call of 20 into a pot of 280 to see how badly I’m beat.

Quads beat a full house the last time I checked – so much so that I’m actually dead. 

The TURN and RIVER are irrelevant… though the T on the river is an especially poignant poke in the eye.  I have the third best hand with just two people playing.

In my opinion, he should not have limped in pre-flop with a horrible hand like that, but he hit his board and he gets paid.  It’s easy to say after the fact that I would have folded facing a check-raise of more than 20, but again that check-raise says a lot.  He wanted to set a trap for me, and he sprang it. If I don’t respect that kind of move when it is played, there’s a great chance I’ll be losing more than what I did.

Capture your awesome hands with Play of the Day. I'll see you at the tables!

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Winners of the Zynga Poker Chips Sweepstakes!

Announcing the 6 winners of the Zynga Poker Chip Sweepstakes with a $2.7 BILLION chip value prize!

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Congratulations to our winners who each earned game cards towards $450,000,000 chips and thanks to everyone who participated!

March 26 - Christian R.

March 27 - Gethin M

March 28 - Montserrat S

March 29 - Eldenbaby L

March 30 - Elizabeth M

March 31 - Magdi I

 

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Shawn's Turn: Play of the Day

Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 2.23.51 PMMy name is Shawn, and I am the lead game designer for Zynga Poker. I absolutely love Play of the Day.  I think POTD is one of the most interesting things we’ve done here at Zynga Poker involving the posting of fun and exciting content to a Facebook wall feed.

The feature captures your interesting moments while playing Zynga Poker and sharing them with your friends.  Pictures say a thousand words, and POTD delivers just that. 

Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 6.01.32 PMThe Zynga Poker team has developed one of the slickest hand replayers I’ve seen. I am a huge poker nerd, and I’ve seen more than my fair share of barebones hand re-players.  Instead of just replaying a hand, we try to show it off as your special moment.  It really does put you in the poker spotlight as the star of the show.

By opting in to Play of the Day, you will show off your most interesting experiences at the poker tables automatically. The hand we choose will most often be showcasing your success at the poker table, but no poker experience is complete without a bad beat story every once in a while.  Once POTD posts, you and your friends can like and comment on the hand in Facebook.

 OK, enough with the feature bragging… let me share with you a hand of my own from some recent action.

Background: I am deep in a $1,000,000 Sit-N-Go tourney with the blinds at 50/100.  I’m in the Big Blind with a loose, aggressive player to my left.  He’s been pushy in pots, often raising with less than premium hands.  Everyone else has been relatively passive, making moves only when they have the goods.

The Start: I have KQs 6-handed (six people at the table), which is solid. I think it’s worth taking a look at the flop in this position.  Admittedly, this is a big call based on chip stack sizes – I had the clear plan of folding this if I didn’t even get close after the flop.

The Flop: The flop hits 6-3-K rainbow (all different suits), and I’m obviously pleased.  Top pair is really good at this stage, especially against someone who I think will be raising with pretty much anything (though I think he has Ace-rag here, honestly, so it wasn’t a bad pre-flop raise on his part). 

I check – being out of position is less than ideal.  He bets 200 into a 650 pot (a weak C-bet), so I make the decision to ride this one out to the finish line.  I think a raise here would scare him off (he’s loose and aggressive, but he’s not dumb), so I call, thinking I have the best hand.  I plan to move on him at the turn provided an Ace doesn’t hit the board.

 

The Turn: The turn pairs the 3 on the board, which may be a little bit of a scare card if I thought he had a 3, but the chances of that are small so I still think I have the best of it.  I check, expecting my opponent to do a smallish bet again. 

This time, he bets 600 into a 1050 pot – he’s putting me to the test.  It’s time to move all-in, which is for 1020 – the remainder of my chips.  It’s an easy call for my opponent if he thinks he has something.  He does in fact call.

The River:  As my friend Jen would say, this was a gift from the poker gods.  Full boat!  I wish I could have seen what my opponent had, but I’ll take satisfaction instead from winning a juicy hand and becoming the new chip leader. And that’s what Play of the Day is all about!

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Meet the New Zynga Poker Girl - Bianca!

Bianca_1Congratulations to Bianca H., the new Zynga Poker Girl.

Bianca beat out seven other competitors in the first-ever Poker Girls Challenge. Our community decided on the winner by voting on their favorites in a bracket-style competition.

In the coming months, you will find out more how Bianca will represent Zynga Poker. We're excited that our fans chose Bianca to be the new Zynga Poker Girl.

Hometown: Scottsdale, Arizona

Why I want to represent Zynga Poker Girl: I LOVE playing poker, and want to meet new and exciting people who all have a love for the game!

Bianca_8How I got into poker: I started playing on my phone, and got addicted.

How to handle a bad beat: You just have to keep your head up and realize everything happens for a reason. Don't give up your willingness to take chances.

With pocket 7s, fold, raise, or call? Call.

Favorite starting hand: Any cards that get me on my way to a Royal Flush.

Best thing about playing poker: You never know what will happen. You can go from a hot streak to losing your chips.

The first thing I do when I walk into a casino: Watch all the interesting people.

Hobbies: Running, movies, spending time outdoors.

Favorite foods: Sushi and salsa.

My poker screen name would be: Biancatakesitall

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Poker Girls Challenge Championship: Bianca H. vs Jaime M.

Who deserves to be the new Zynga Poker girl?  We will have two days of voting for the championship, April 1st & April 2nd. 

The final two models are competing for the title to be the ultimate Poker Girl and represent Zynga Poker. You will decide who will be the new Zynga Poker Girl!

Today's matchup includes Bianca H. vs Jaime M. Vote for your favorite and share who you vote for with your friends!

 

 TALE OF THE TAPE

PokerGirl_BHvsJM

Bianca H.

Height: 5'3"

How did you get started playing poker? It sounds silly, but I started playing on my phone and became addicted.

You have pocket 7s. Fold, raise, or call? Call.

If you had a bad beat, how would you handle it? You just have to keep your head up and realize everything happens for a reason. Don't give up your willingness to take chances.

What is your favorite starting hand and why? Any cards that get me on my way to a Royal Flush.

Why I should be the next poker girl: I absolutely LOVE playing poker!

If you could create your own poker screen name, what would it be? Biancatakesitall

Poker Girl Tip: Only bet what you can afford to lose!

Jaime M.

Height: 5'7"

How did you get started playing poker? In Vegas, naturally;)

You have pocket 7s. Fold, raise, or call? Raise.

If you had a bad beat, how would you handle it? Just move on, and win the next one!

What is your favorite starting hand and why? A nice pair of pocket Aces!

Why I should be the next poker girl: So I could be more involved in the game, and be around people who love to win like I do!

If you could create your own poker screen name, what would it be? GirlwithFirehands

Poker Girl Tip: Have a weak hand in the small blind position? It’s okay to fold!

Find out more fun details about all the Poker Girls Challenge models @zyngapoker on Twitter.  Now make your pick and vote for your favorite poker girl on our fan page.

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