Poker & Facebook: A Perfect Match
In its current position at the top of the online poker traffic leaderboard, PokerStars has played host to an average of 32,000 players at any given time over the past week. In comparison, a plug-in application for the Facebook social network platform called “Texas Holdem Poker,” boasts an astonishing 35,160,361 monthly active users.
Based on these numbers, it shouldn’t take a genius to see the potential benefits to internet poker of any further links between the online gambling industry and the white-hot trend of social networking. Regardless, an expert’s opinion still carries some weight. So when a top executive of the Remote Gambling Association, a Eurocentric consortium of online betting operators, says that such an alignment contains “huge potential,” people listen.
Clive Hawkswood, head of the RGA’s London office, explained recently that poker is one of the most social forms of betting. Unlike other casino games and betting scenarios, the house acts only as a mediator, and the focus is on interaction between players, not between a player and the house. Hawkswood points to the success of social features already integrated into online poker clients, such as chat boxes and tournament leader boards, as a way of highlighting the potential of a stronger link between online social networks and poker. He states, “This would at least indicate that there would be a good fit with social networks and, of course, they would provide a largely untapped source of new customers.”
Presumably, many of those potential new customers are among those 35 million users of Texas Holdem Poker, the wildly popular Facebook application developed by social gaming company Zynga. Although the wagering chips used in the game do not correspond directly to real money, the widespread success of the application has affirmed that the market for online poker is even bigger than the traffic at traditional sites like PokerStars or Full Tilt Poker indicate. The key for any online poker enterprise is to tap into that market by encouraging a stronger interplay between the experience of the social network and the already existing online poker networks.
Rakeback.com has decided to take advantage of the capacious Facebook platform with the recent introduction of the Rakeback Freeroll Buddy. The Buddy has a profile like any other friend, but in addition to offering clever status updates and friend-filled photo albums, the Freeroll Buddy gives out passwords to private, free-to-enter online poker tournaments with hundreds of dollars at stake. By integrating into what’s already one of the most used websites on the internet, Rakeback.com has created a mutually beneficial situation. We reap the benefits of a springboard to wider exposure, and online poker fans–veteran and novice alike–get a chance to win cash prizes without risking any of their own money.