Switch Poker has been around as a website since 2010, although it has only recently moved into the mobile poker market over the past couple of years.
A quick trawl of the Internet reveals a somewhat confused state about the ‘app’.
There are reviews of a Switch Poker app available online, however a search of the App Store reveals no such Switch Poker app.
Nor can you download a compatible app for iPhone or iPad from the Switch Poker site, if you visit it on the browser, so where these reviewers got their working app for iPhone and iPad is beyond me.
You can use your iPad or iPhone to create a link to the site which creates a link to the site on your device in the same way an app works, which may be quicker than navigating by Safari each time.
So the first thing to note about the Switch Poker app, is that for iOS devices, at the time of writing at least, it isn’t an app at all, but a website – hence the slight change in title above.
For the purposes of this review we checked out the site on an Apple iPad.
So without any further ado, let’s take a look at the Switch Poker site in a bit more detail.
At the moment, you can play Switch Poker via the Switch Poker website on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.
You use Safari (or a similar browser) to visit the Switch Poker website on your device and you can register and log in from there.
Android users have access to a downloadable app, which can be downloaded from the Switch Poker website.
The site FAQ reveals that Switch Poker has been tested and found to work on Android 1.6+ devices, iPad (but with limited sound options), iPhone 3G or higher, iPod Touch and a number of web-browsers, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera and Internet Explorer.
It is not immediately clear whether you would therefore be able to access the site from a BlackBerry, Sony or Windows Phone and be able to play using a browser. Logic dictates that you should be able to, if you have the right browser installed on your phone, but we were unable to test this fully at the time of review.
One of the strangest things about Switch Poker is that it is genuinely hard to find, especially on an Apple device.
With there being no official app for Switch Poker, there is no Switch Poker app in the App Store (although there are several different Switch owned other gambling apps). Nor does it come up high in any generalised poker searches.
Indeed, the best way to access the software is to visit the website, where you can gain access to downloads for your Android Device as well as the ability to play on your Apple devices.
With there being no official download, using the app is simply a case of registering on the Switch Poker website.
Once you have done this you simply log in to the website from your device (though Android players do have the option to log in via an app).
Once you have joined the site you can only play for a choice of play money or in real cash games. What is unusual is that you actually have to log into the site and click the “Play Now” button before you decide whether to play for real cash or play cash, which can be confusing if you are used to selecting which type of poker you want to play in the first instance.
The game choice is somewhat limited at the present time with only cash table (ring games) available at a variety of different blinds, ranging from €0.01/0.02 up to €10/€20 on the cash tables, with play money cash tables ranging from 5/10 up to 10000/20000 of play chips.
All the tables available are presented in a single long list and it is immediately clear that this is a much smaller poker site than the likes of PokerStars, Sky Poker, Bet365 Poker or indeed any of the other big players in the UK poker industry.
Once you click on the "Play Now" button, this brings up the list of tables, which you can scroll up and down to find a table that you want to play at. The tables with players are always positioned at the top of the list.
Being brutal, the choice of games available is very small and this choice is made smaller by the generally low amount of traffic at the site, especially at off-peak times.
To be fair to Switch Poker though, they do clearly indicate in their FAQ section that they are hoping to add further games to the site in a specific order, including 9-hand Cash Tables, Sit & Go / Single Table Tournament Games, MTTs, Fixed-Limit Holdem and Pot Limit Omaha games plus more.
As yet though none of these additional games are available to play.
Currently US players are not allowed to play on Switch Poker in real money games.
After accessing the Switch Poker site via Safari, I found that immediately I encountered a few problems.
The buttons on the site were not particularly responsive on my iPad. Some, such as the "Play Now" button worked without any problem, but other buttons and scrolling down the list of tables available were problematic at times.
At first, I assumed this was because I had too many programmes running on my iPad, so I closed them all down and tried again, but still encountered the same problems. The issues were more annoying than critical however, but it is never a good idea to produce software that isn’t logical or responsive.
Despite this negative issue there were also plenty of positives I found when using the app. The process of registering for the app was quick and easy and the way the registration forms were laid out made it easy to complete without making errors in the sign up process.
What was particularly pleasing was that if you do register with Switch Poker, then you do get some excellent bonuses, which are extremely attractive if you are looking to play poker without risking hardly any of your hard earned cash.
First up, when you sign up, you can give Switch Poker your mobile phone number and it is a good idea to do so, because when you have registered your address and confirmed it via email, you can then confirm your mobile phone number by responding to an SMS message that the company sends to it.
If you do this, then you receive €5 completely free which you can use to play on the cash tables.
Furthermore, if you then decide to make a small deposit into your account of €0.50 using your credit card, then Switch Poker will give you ANOTHER €5 completely free.
This means that you will start life on the site with a balance of €10.50, but only 50cents of that is your money.
Alternatively, if you want to play for bigger money on the site, then you can opt for a third bonus, where you will receive a matched deposit bonus of up to €600, which can be redeemed over the first six-months of membership on the site.
Again, this is a real incentive for players as it is a considerably longer time to redeem a bonus than is available on many other poker sites, which tend to offer at most, 30, 60 or occasionally 90 days in which to realise your full deposit bonus, or lose it.
With Switch Poker you have over 180 days to play on site and realise as much of your initial bonus as possible, which does make putting down a bigger initial deposit seem much more worthwhile.
There is little reason not to sign up for an account, considering the generosity of the Switch Poker signup bonus.
The first bonus is applied to your account upon confirmation of your mobile number but for the other promotions, you do need to choose which one to access and to enter the relevant code on the site. The process though is quick and easy to complete and it does not take long until you have the instant bonuses in your account ready to play with.
It is worth noting however that to keep the free €5, you do need to play 30 hands at the cash tables within 24 hours of joining the site, otherwise you lose this cash.
So with your bonus money in your account, it is time to check out what the tables look and play like
As we’ve touched on earlier, there isn’t a huge choice of cash games available and what games there are, are ring games for two or six players at a table. In addition, the site isn’t heavily populated, so your choice of tables is further limited by the fact that there were usually only 7 or 8 tables with enough players on to make playing any game, bar heads up, viable.
That said, it is usually not too difficult to find a microstakes game to play and with just €10.50 in your account to start with, these are likely where you are going to want to start playing.
After the table had loaded up, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the graphics.
The default option was to have a four colour deck, which I always feel is a great idea for beginner players as it makes identifying flushes so much easier. The table design is compacty and the card design is slightly smaller than on other comparable sites, but this didn’t impact on the quality of the game.
There were however a few niggles with the gameplay at the table.
The first was the sound. Most poker sites tend to try and replicate the sounds of cards being dealt, chips being placed into the middle or similar.
For some reason Switch Poker decided to avoid these clichés and came up instead with its own sound scheme which is, to put it mildly, awful.
The sounds used resemble no poker game I have ever heard, indeed one noise, which I assume is meant to represent chips being placed into the pot, sounds instead like the screech of a particularly angry parrot.
This is most definitely a game to play with the volume button down or the sound option turned off.
The other issue which made using Switch Poker so frustrating was the speed of play on the site. The default setting of the timer on each table is set for an inordinately long time and this, combined with the indecisiveness of other players, problems with connections or any other number of time consuming issues, meant that playing a single hand often seemed to take an age.
Certainly, if you have got 10 minutes to spare and want to play a hand or two of poker, then Switch Poker isn’t the place to head.
This was a shame as the actual playing of the game at the table was the smoothest part of the entire site and was enjoyable when the game moved along at what I would view as a sensible pace. It was just that too often, one hand would take between 5 or 10 minutes to resolve.
While recognising its obvious limitations at present, I think Switch Poker has the potential to be a much improved site in the future as it already boasts a significant number of good features.
In particular I felt the following were praiseworthy:
Registering for the site was well designed, quick and easy, as is logging in.
The new player bonuses you get for joining the site are excellent and easy to receive, without having to wait a while for them to be credited to your account. In both cases, mine arrived in my account instantaneously for me to use in the cash tables.
The length of time you have to realise your full new player deposit bonus of up to €600 really makes this site worth considering if you can afford a larger initial deposit and then can realise the bonus over the 6 months.
The design of the table and standard of play at the tables were not particularly fearsome, which would make this a great site for a novice player to learn the nuances of cash table play, without risking a huge amount of their own money initially.
The company has already indicated that it is seeking to add many more features to the site in the coming months, such as 9-player cash tables, Sit & Go tables, MTT’s as well as other variations of Poker. It is clear that the Switch Poker site is still one that is very much in development and is only likely to improve throughout 2014 and beyond.
In essence, I think the infrastructure for Switch Poker to be a good site is there and certainly the planned improvements make it one to watch for the future very closely.
However at the moment it is falling short because of several issues, which I will highlight below.
Although Switch Poker had several noteworthy points and seems set for a bright future given the future developments that are planned for the site, there are a fair few negative issues that dogged me when reviewing it.
The main issue was the responsiveness of the software when reviewed on the app. When I visited the PC version of the site, there were no real problems I encountered, but on the iPad, the buttons seemed slow and unresponsive at times and the scroll bar, which you use to navigate to the game that you want, was particularly slow. Without a clear and easy way to navigate across the site, any app is always going to struggle and this needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
The lack of game choice at the moment is also a big drawback. Unless you are a heads up player, or like playing 6-hand cash table games for generally lower or micro stakes, then Switch Poker doesn’t really offer anything for you. The site owners are planning on introducing many more games in the future, so players who prefer other forms of the game other than the two available on site, would be best advised to wait until then.
The pace of play on the cash tables were also a real problem. I have not played a mobile poker variant in which the pace of the game was so slow. This is a problem easily rectified however by reducing the timers on the game to a more manageable level (I’d suggest 10 or 15 seconds) as currently it is way too long and this drastically reduces the playability of the game as you get through relatively few hands in the space of an hour or so.
The amount of traffic on the site wasn’t huge with less than a hundred players on the site each time I logged in to do some research to review it. This does drastically limit what tables you can play still further.
The sound effects on the iPad version of the game were dreadful. Not only were they not representative of a game of poker, they were incessantly annoying and meant that you were quickly sliding the volume control on the device down to zero.
Another minor annoyance was the lack of an app for Apple devices. Many people are used to the app system of downloading, creating a link on their device and clicking it to play, so to log in each time via the browser is somewhat annoying. It also makes Switch Poker very difficult to find as it doesn’t show up in the App Store, which would also explain why it is so lightly used by players.
Despite having several promising features, a quick and easy to access introductory offer that is one of the best on the mobile market, I’m unable to give Switch Poker a mark beyond half marks due to the numerous issues I’ve outlined above.
The site freely admits that it is still very much in development and I would say that they have made a decent start, but that if they are going to become serious players in the mobile poker market, they need to address some pretty serious issues if they are to have any chance of challenging the dominance of some of the bigger and well-established names out there, such as PokerStars or 888 Poker.
The first of these is the software, it needs to be quicker and more responsive than it is, with less glitches and annoyances which will only drive players towards the log out button.
In addition, Switch Poker needs to work fast to get additional games added to the site.
I would question the wisdom of prioritising 9-seat cash tables as being the next to be added to the site, given that there are already cash tables available to play.
This to me seems to be taking the easier and quicker option than getting Sit & Go games or MTTs up on the site which would immediately make it more appealing to the vast majority of poker players who want to play these games, rather than solely cash table games.
The developers also need to work hard to get a working app ready for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch too. Not only will it appear in the App Store, thus greatly increasing its chances of being downloaded and used, but it will make using the app easier and more convenient for these players.
Lastly, they also need to address the sound as at present, it is woeful.
That said, there are still plenty of positives for Switch Poker and with a few adjustments and some additions, this could well turn into a very good poker app in the near future.
If it does, we’ll be the first to let you know right here.