Inside the social utility Facebook, it's all about networking, and the company has now extended that networking to online poker. Last week it was announced that Facebook had teamed up with online game supplier Ujogo to provide online poker services to Facebook's clientele. While Facebook has had online poker applications in the past, Ujogo will be kicking it up a notch by offering real-money prizes for tournaments and Amazon gift cards for participation and performance in cash games.
Ujogo is only offering its services to US players, which is good news for those left with fewer poker choices after the UIGEA. Ujogo maintains its legality with respect to gambling law as participants do not gamble with their own money. In this 'free' and 'no risk' environment, most of Ujogo's prizes are based on a point system. Players can accumulate points through a number of activities including initial sign-up, referrals, play time, and performance.
With free poker sites safely outside the perceived grey zone of US and state gambling laws, a number of sites are experimenting with the 'play money' model. Recently the World Poker Tour launched a subscription-based site for US players that offers participants cash and prizes under the sweepstakes rule. The virtual world Second Life eventually ran afoul with its play money system of online gambling. The site banned gambling last year after scrutiny from US law officials. The central issue with Second Life's offerings was that its virtual currency, the Linden Dollar, was readily convertible to real money.
Ujogo initially launched its own poker site in July 2007. Professional player and writer Susie Isaacs endorses the site. In 2004, Facebook started as a Harvard College networking program. In 2006, Facebook was launched to the mainstream and now has approximately 62 million active users.