Blackjack switch is a popular variant of twenty-one found in many land-based casinos. On the Internet, you’ll sometimes find the game referred to simply as “Switch”. One radical departure from classic blackjack rules allows the gambler to start each hand with two sets of cards. A separate bet is placed on each hand, while the player is given the opportunity to switch the face cards between hands. By doing so, the object of the game is to improve the strength of both hands. This isn’t always as easy as you might think, because you have to win both hands at once to beat the casino.
In this article, we discuss the rules of blackjack switch and a few strategies you’ll need to keep in mind while playing. Understand that every gambling operator has their own ideas about which rules should apply. Twenty-one is a game where the rules get tweaked a lot, often with bad effects on the house edge.
Cards in the deck
Most games of blackjack switch are played using either 6 or 8 decks. If you play using eight decks, this lowers the house edge from the 6-deck game by 0.20%. Don’t expect to find single-deck or two-deck games of switch.
When the hand starts, you have an equal bet on both hands. If you switch cards to create a two-card 21, this is not considered a blackjack. Instead, it’s treated like any other 21. If the dealer also receives a twenty-one, then this is a push.
Building stronger hands
Read a strategy chart unique to this switching variant of the game, because the basic strategy charts for the traditional game won’t account for many of the plays here. For instance, if you hold ace-3 (14) and 10-8 (18), it’s in your best interest to switch the 8 and 3 to create the ace-8 (19) and 10-3 (13) hands.
Having a nineteen is going to win more hands than an eighteen, while holding a thirteen is no worse than holding a fourteen. In either case, with the 22-rule for dealers, you’ll be standing on the 13 or 14 and be hoping for a bust-out. The switched cards help you in one case and don’t hurt you in the other, so you improve your overall odds.
Doubling and splitting
In most venues, you can split up to four hands. Also, players have the option to double after any sort of split. Any two cards can be split, so these rules are advantageous to you.
Standing on Soft 17
In most casinos which offer switch, the dealer hits on a soft 17. On rare occasions, you’ll find casino operators who offer to stand on a soft 17. If you find this rule in place, enjoy this game. While you might check to see if other rules compensate for this liberal stipulation, standing on soft seventeen is one of the best rules you’ll find.
At the start of the hand, the dealer peeks at their downcard any time they hold a card ranked 10 or an ace. They check to see if they have a natural blackjack. If they do, you lose the hand, unless you also have a natural. If the dealer doesn’t hold a 21, then the player has the option to surrender. Since this is done after it’s been determined by the casino personnel they haven’t won outright, this is called “late surrender”.
Dealers push on 22
When the dealer holds a 22, this is a push against the player holding 21 or less. The only time this isn’t the case is when the player holds a natural blackjack, which is a two-card twenty-one with an ace and a ten-card. This is one of those rules which is used to offset the obvious advantage of knowing what the dealer has in his or her hand.
Blackjack pays 1:1
When a gambler receives a natural twenty-one, this only pays out 1 to 1. The standard amount paid on this card combination is 3:2, a 50% increase on the payout. In most situations, gambling experts would tell you the worst thing you can do is play on a table with 1:1 payouts on a natural. Even playing at a single-deck table doesn’t outweigh this disadvantage. When playing switch, you’ll have to get used to this rule, because it’s standard anywhere you might play.
Players have to be a little more aggressive with hands in switch, because the 22-rule forces them to hit on hands they otherwise would stand on. Anytime you have a hard 17 or more, stand. If the dealer is showing a 3 through 6, this is weak and you need to play like it’s weak. If a 7 or higher is showing, consider these strong hands. If a 2 is showing, you can’t treat this card like you would in traditional twenty-one. A good chance exists the 2 turns into a 22 (or other strong hand), which would mean a push–not a bust.
When you have a soft 19 or 20, always stand. When you have a soft 18 and the dealer holds a 2-through-8, you should stand. Hit when the dealer is showing 9, 10, or ace. If you hold a soft 17 or below, you should hit before you double.
Doubling your bet
If you hold a 10 or 11, always double against a two through six. If you have a 9, always double against a 6. If you hold an ace and a 5, double against 6’s only. If you hold ace-7 or ace-6, double down against 5’s and 6’s.
House edge on Switch
When the most common variable rules for classic blackjack and Switch are used, then Switch has a lower house edge. This is a game worth your while to learn and play, because it offers one of the best payout percentages you’ll find in the casino. The reason casinos offer a game with better payouts than the traditional game is the fact most players don’t take the time to learn the strategy properly. Throwing new scenarios at the bulk of players is certain to produce results. While switching your 21 cards is fun and potentially more profitable, most players won’t take the time to learn the game properly.
For that reason, get a basic strategy chart for Blackjack Switch and learn the ways it deviates from the classic game. If you’re playing with the bottom line in question (and not for simple enjoyment), then don’t play until you’ve mastered the tips and strategies.