How to Play Blackjack Switch

Suppose you are playing blackjack and you are dealt a King and a 6 while you neighbor has a 4 and an Ace. Wouldn't it be nice if you could switch your 6 with his Ace so you would have a blackjack? Of course, you wouldn’t try to switch these cards in a casino, because if you were caught, you would be in a heap of trouble (switching cards is a cheating maneuver). But, there is a new blackjack game in town that is causing a stir amongst players because it allows you to do just that: switch your cards.

 

The game is appropriately called Blackjack Switch and it's currently being offered in several casinos in Vegas and on Internet casinos. But interest in the game is high with players, and if it continues,  it won't be long before the game will be offered in other casinos across the country.

 

The appeal of the game is it allows players to legally do what is now illegal, namely switch cards. In Blackjack Switch, you must play two hands per round with equal bets but you have the option to switch the second card dealt to each hand. This playing option gives players a big advantage because you could switch one or two bad hands into two very good hands. Here's an example of what I mean.

 

I was playing Blackjack Switch recently at the Four Queens in Las Vegas to get a feel for the game when the dealer gave me a 7-5 on one hand and a 6-4 on the other. She was showing an 8 upcard. I had a fairly decent play on my 6-4 hand, namely to double down on my 10 against the dealer's 8. But my other hand, a 12 against the 8, was a loser. However, I had the option to switch the second card on each hand (the 5 and 4), and when I did, I wound up with two very nice hands, a 7-4 and 6-5. Of course, I doubled down on both 11's, got picture cards on both hands for 21's, and won both hands.

 

The Blackjack Switch game at the Four Queens used six decks of cards, dealer hit soft 17, the cards were dealt face up, you could double down on any two cards and also after pair splitting, and you were allowed to resplit up to four hands. In the event the dealer showed an Ace, she peeked at her downcard and if she had a blackjack, all player bets lost (i.e., you won't have a chance to switch cards even if your switch would have resulted in a blackjack). To compensate for the player favorable switch rule, there are two negative rules: a winning blackjack hand is only paid at even money, and if the dealer gets a 22, all player hands of 21 or less push.

 

You are probably wondering what the house edge in this game especially with those two negative rules. Before I tell you, let me discuss two more important things you need to know if you want to play this game: the basic playing strategy and the strategy for switching your cards.

 

Because of the dealer 22 push rule, the basic strategy is different than the conventional basic strategy. (basically you will be doubling and pair splitting less). You will find the basic playing strategy for Blackjack Switch at these two sites: www.wizardofodds.com and www.blackjackswitch.com. The bottom line is you shouldn't be using the conventional basic strategy when you play this game; instead you need to follow the basic strategy that is specific to Blackjack Switch. It's not any more complicated, just slightly different.

 

The more difficult strategy to master is the switching decisions. For example, would you switch the second card in each of these hands?

 

Hand 1: 2-8
Hand 2: 10-9
Dealer shows a 3.

 

For the moment you have a 10 and a 19 against a dealer's 3 upcard. If you switch the second card in each hand you would have these hands:

 

Hand 1: 2-9
Hand 2: 10-8

 

So the question facing you is this: is it better to keep the 10 and 19 against the dealer's 3, or switch and play the 11 and 18 hands? So, how would you play it?

 

The best strategy is to keep the original hands (10 and 19) and not switch. How do I know? You've got to go to the Switching Tables at either of the above two web sites to look up each of the hand's expectation against the dealer 3 upcard, add them up for each hand, and then compare the expectation of the two original hands to the two new hands created by switching, and the one with the higher expectation determines whether or not you should switch.

I told you the switching strategy was more complicated. But the reality is that that the decision to switch is pretty straight forward on the majority of hands. What I did when I played is bring the table of expectation with me when I played and quickly referred to it the few times when it wasn't so obvious whether or not to switch. If you want to play the game, bring along the switching table!

 

You can download a play version of Blackjack Switch by going to www.blackjackswitch.com and click on Download. You can then play the game on your computer for fun to get a feel for how it plays especially the switching moves.

 

You will also find a switching calculator on the Blackjack Switch page on www.wizardofodds.com. You just key in the cards in both hands, click the "Switch?"  button, and presto it will tell you whether or not to switch.

 

Blackjack Switch is currently being offered in Nevada casinos. If player interest remains high and the game gets approved in other gaming jurisdictions, it could begin to show up in a casino near you.

 

So what's the house edge for Blackjack Switch? If you learn the Blackjack Switch playing strategy and know when to switch, the house edge is a reasonable two tenths of one percent. But you'll only achieve this low house edge if you know the playing and switching strategies for the game. Do not, however, even think about playing without first learning these strategies.