Blackjack Switch, a variant on the popular casino game, was invented by card counter Geoff Hall in 2009. The idea came to Hall while he was playing two hands of traditional blackjack. Both hands were weak, but they could’ve been immediately improved if only the rules allowed for the top two cards of each hand to be switched. A light bulb went off in Hall’s head and Blackjack Switch was born.
Since it’s only been around for a few years, most gamers haven’t had a chance to play Blackjack Switch. This article is intended to increase awareness of the exciting variant, as well as explain how to play Blackjack Switch. For those who obsess about the house edge, I’ve also included a section on Blackjack Switch odds and probability.
How to Play Blackjack Switch
Learning how to play Blackjack Switch is easy, as it still follows the basic theme of the game it was based on. This means players need to get closer to 21 than the dealer without going bust, and the optimum hand is an ace and a 10-value card (known as a “natural blackjack”).
The game is played with four, six, or eight decks of cards and the values are the same as in normal blackjack. This means that face cards are worth 10 points, the ace is worth either 1 or 11, and all other others are the same as the value printed on their card.
The gaming surface looks like a blackjack table, but there are two betting boxes in front of each player instead of one. When players make their initial wagers, the bets must be identical in each box.
Play begins with the dealer placing one face-up card in each of the player’s two boxes.
He then deals a card to himself before dealing another face-up card to each player’s remaining boxes. The second dealer card is placed face-down.
The dealer then asks each participant in turn if they wish to switch their top cards (the second card dealt in each hand). If they do, then the cards are switched and new hand totals are formed. After each player has made this decision, they may decide to hit, stand, or double on their individual hands (starting with the betting box on the player’s right). If a hand exceeds 21, it is considered “busted” and the dealer takes the wager associated with that hand.
At most casinos, the dealer will hit on a soft 17. This isn’t always the case, however, so be sure to consult the rules of each casino before sitting down to play.
If the dealer is showing an ace or 10-value card after the initial deal, they will peek at the face-down card in their hand to check for blackjack. If they have it, then all players lose.
The only exception is if a player also has a natural blackjack, which is considered a push.
When cards are switched to create a blackjack, it only counts as 21. A dealer total of 22 will push against any player total of 21 or less. The only exception is a natural player blackjack (which pays even money instead of the usual 3:2).
Players may double on any two cards, and they may also double following a split. Hands may be split up to a total of four.
A side bet known as “Super Match” is usually available in games of Blackjack Switch. In a six-deck game, bonus payouts occur when the following combinations come up during the initial deal: 40:1 for four-of-a-kind, 8:1 for two pairs, 5:1 for three-of-a-kind, and 1:1 for a pair.
Blackjack Switch Odds and Probability
Blackjack Switch odds and probability are similar to other blackjack variants, but these can change from one casino to another depending on slight rule differences. The common Las Vegas rules call for six decks to be used, a switched blackjack to count as 21, and the dealer to hit on a soft 17. Under these rules, the house edge is calculated to be 0.58%.
If eight decks are used, the house edge decreases to +0.02% (the rare occasion when the player has an advantage over the house). A switched blackjack counting as an automatic win is -0.40%, and a natural blackjack being an automatic winner lowers the house edge to -0.21%. A dealer required to stand on a soft 17 changes the expected payout to -0.30%. All of these odds assume that the individual is incorporating perfect blackjack strategy into their play.
If you’ve ever played multiple hands of blackjack and longed to be in an alternate universe where cards could be moved from one hand to the other, then Blackjack Switch is the game for you. Keep in mind that the casino does add in rules to keep the odds in their favor, but the overall freedom granted by the game’s unique feature is bound to get even the most jaded player excited again. And thanks to the growing presence of the Internet, you can also play Blackjack Switch online without having to shell out money for gas or a plane ticket.