How to Play Blackjack Switch

Published: 10/11/2013

It can sometimes be to the player’s advantage to play two hands of blackjack at a time against a dealer. It is often possible to “protect” the second hand by making appropriate decisions on the first. Certainly it would be an even greater advantage if it were possible to trade cards between the two hands, but that would be cheating unless the game happens to be a variation called “Blackjack Switch,” where swapping cards is not only allowed, it is actually encouraged.

The Basic Rules

Blackjack Switch requires the player to place two bets of equal amount, one for each of two hands to be dealt. The first card dealt to each hand is fixed and cannot be exchanged, but the second cards of the two hands may be switched without penalty or any extra wagering. This gives the player the opportunity to turn two potential bad hands into good ones, creating natural blackjacks and hands that can be split or doubled down.

The house, of course, never gives the player something for nothing. In this game natural blackjacks pay even money instead of the traditional 3-to-2 or the discounted 6-to-5 that has become common recently. Also, whenever the dealer’s hand totals 22, it doesn’t bust; it becomes an automatic push, with all bets refunded and no winners paid other than natural blackjacks.

Las Vegas casinos typically offer Blackjack Switch dealt from six- or eight-deck shoes. Cards are distributed face up and the dealer must hit on soft 17. Doubling down is permitted on any two cards as well as after a split. Re-splitting up to four hands is allowed, too. Any time the dealer shows an Ace, a Face or a Ten shows as the up card, the dealer will peek and declare any blackjack immediately. Players who also have a natural blackjack will push and all other players lose their initial bets.

Playing Strategy

By and large, players should follow the same Basic Strategy for Blackjack Switch as they would for classic Blackjack. The main difference is that a separate strategy is required to decide when to switch cards and when to hold them as dealt. In most cases, the optimum play should be rather obvious.

For example, if dealt a four then an Ace on the first hand and a King then a seven on the second, it is highly advantageous to switch the Ace and the seven to form a total of eleven in the first for a double down opportunity and an A-K in the second hand for a natural blackjack. The player can then choose whether or not to double based upon the dealer’s up card and whether the deck is currently rich or poor in tens.

In much the same way, it can be quite clear when cards should not be switched. For example, when dealt a Q-7 and an 8-J facing the dealer’s 7, there is no advantage gained by switching. The same cards facing a 9, however, would create a real decision, as the bets can be hedged by switching to create totals of 20 and 15.

According to expert calculations, Blackjack Switch features a House edge on par with most other Blackjack variations. The advantage to the House is 0.58% when played at a six-deck table, and using optimum play, it may be able to bring the margin down to 0.16%.

Some Blackjack Switch games also offer a side bet called “Super Match.” It allows a separate bet to be made in a circle between the usual betting areas. Payouts are determined by the player’s initial four cards. A pair pays 1:1, three of a kind is worth 5:1, two pairs will earn 8:1 and four-of-a-kind pays 40:1. The house edge for the Super Match side bet is around 2.6%.

Published on: 10/11/2013

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