Ever found yourself in a position where you wished you could change your hands when playing blackjack? Indeed, this should ring a bell if you are a huge fan of the game.
In a typical blackjack game, players have no say regarding the cards they receive. The dealer deals the cards at random after shuffling each deck. Switching hands is a severe offence in a traditional blackjack game that could land you in deep trouble. However, this is not the same in Blackjack Switch. This game variation offers players the opportunity to spice up their gaming experience. The major highlight of this game is that players can switch their cards between two hands. This means that the player must bet on two hands from the onset before switching cards from one hand to the other.
Indeed, this sounds like fun, and if you want to try this out the next time you visit a casino, then this article is for you. In the following sections, we will cover all the fantastic features and rules of Blackjack Switch and some valuable tips.
What is Blackjack Switch?
Blackjack Switch is a popular type of blackjack that allows players to switch cards from one hand to the other without it being considered a cheat move. The player must bet on two independent hands and can only switch their second cards.
The game was first introduced by the gambling professional Geoff Hall, who conceived this idea from personal experience. According to history books, Geoff found the conventional style of play boring and challenging as there was that constant desire and wish of being able to switch cards or make some changes. In 2001, he introduced Blackjack Switch at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas. The first land-based variant was installed at the Harvey’s Casino in Iowa, now the present-day Harrah’s. Since then, Blackjack Switch has continued to gain popularity. The game rules are similar to traditional blackjack, and the objective is to have a superior hand over the dealer.
How to play Blackjack Switch
The first step in playing Blackjack Switch is to make two identical wagers by moving the equivalent chips into the designated circles on the table. The dealer deals from a deck of cards (between 6 and 8 decks). The player receives two cards face up on both hands while the dealer receives one card up and the other face down.
The next step is for the player to make a move. Switch, Hit, Stand, Split, Double Down, it’s entirely up to you. Afterwards, the dealer turns over the hole card and checks for a blackjack. Whoever has the superior hand wins the game.
Blackjack Switch Rules
Specific tweaks to the rules of Blackjack Switch make it different from the traditional blackjack game. In some casinos, you will find additional variations. However, these are some of the most popular rules you will encounter while playing Blackjack Switch.
- The player must make two identical bets and any other side bets where applicable.
- The player decides to switch hands only after reviewing both hands to determine if it is a good move. Otherwise, the player chooses to make another move such as hit, stand or split.
- If the dealer’s hand is 22 in Blackjack Switch, it is not considered a bust. Instead, it is regarded as a push. This is a significant rule that differentiates this variant from the others.
- The player receives two cards face up.
- The dealer receives two cards: a hole card and an up card.
- The payout for blackjack is 1 to 1 against 3 to 2 in other variants.
- The payout for insurance bet is 2 to 1.
- The dealer, in most cases, HITS on a soft 17
- The dealer must peek for blackjack when the upcard is an ace or 10.
- When a player opts for a switch, there is no such thing as a blackjack. 21 counts as 21 and not a blackjack.
- The dealer is busted on card values from 23 upwards.
- Players can double down a hand after splitting it.
- The dealer stands on all hard hands from 17 and above.
- Players can split a hand up to four times.
Blackjack Switch Side Bets
Players are free to make side bets before the actual game starts. The type of side bet and possible payout varies from casino to casino and should be discussed before playing. The payout for side bets is different from the usual payout as follows:
- A single pair of any two matching cards has a payout out of 1 to 1 (even money)
- Two pairs of matching cards have a payout of 8 to 1.
- Three matching cards (not three pairs) have a payout of 5 to 1.
- Four of a kind has the highest payout, which is 40 to 1.
Remember, this could vary from one platform to the other.
Blackjack Switch Strategies
Playing two hands can be overwhelming, especially for the less experienced players. In Blackjack Switch, the player has to bet the same amount on each hand, and the goal is to make it count. While there are strategies to improve your gameplay, playing Blackjack Switch is a little more complicated than a regular game. There are two different strategies to follow when playing Blackjack Switch:
- Deciding on the best time to switch
- Best moves to make after the switch
One of the most famous names in this regard is the Cindy Liu switching strategy. There is a simple and advanced strategy aimed at helping the player achieve the strongest possible hand against the dealer after making the switch.
Simple Switching Strategy
This simple strategy is based on the ranking of hands. Below is a table of hard rankings applicable to Blackjack Switch in descending order of strength:
With the above card rankings, Cindy Liu proposed the following as a simple approach to switching the cards:
- When the dealer’s upcard is a 7 or 8, make the switch such that the weaker hand becomes as high (strongest) as possible to match the list on the table.
- When up against any of the dealer’s cards that is not a 7 or 8, make the already higher hand as strongest as possible.
- If, after trying the options already described, you still can’t achieve a strong hand up on the table, then opt for the strongest possible hand in this order of strength: 7 or 17; any splittable hand; 12; or 13.
- Keep the pair together in one hand if you cannot make a pair of aces into 20 or 21 following a switch. For example, if one hand has a pair of aces and the other has a 3 to 9 card, splitting makes the strongest hand a 19 and the weaker hand even less. Never switch in such a situation.
So far, this is the most widely used strategy for blackjack switch in any casino, and the error margins are minimal.
Advanced Switching Strategy
As a continuation of the simple strategy, Cindy Liu also proposed an advance plan which advises players to sum up the card values on each hand and use the hand with the highest value for the next move. The strategy is summarized in the table below:
There is a marginal difference of up to 0.08% regarding the cost of mistakes in using the basic and advanced strategies. In this case, the player will likely make a wrong call once in every 24.5 hands. This translates to a financial value of 10% of the bet on 250 hands.
Picture typical gameplay where the player has a 7 + 3 on one hand and ace +7 on the other against the dealer’s upcard of 6. The first hand adds up to 10, while the second is a soft 18. So, which hand has the strongest pair?
Looking at Cindy’s table, you will notice that the first hand of 10 scores 2 points while the second hand of 18 scores 1 point, making the total of both hands 3. However, switching the cards, the first hand gives a total of 14 (7+7) and the second a soft 14 (A + 3). Looking at the chart, this becomes 0 points for both hands on Cindy’s table, which invariably means, DO NOT SWITCH.
Switching your cards is only a part of the game. Of course, it is a crucial aspect that will significantly affect the gameplay. However, once you have sorted that out using any of the simple or advanced approaches we have discussed, the next step is to decide on the next move based on the value of each hand.
What to do when you have Hard Hands
When you have a hand, you can do any of the following after carefully examining the dealer’s upcard:
- Double down against the dealer’s cards of 2 to 8 when you have a 10 or 11; if otherwise, HIT.
- HIT when you have cards total of 4 to 8
- When the dealer’s upcard is a 5 or 6, STAND when you have a 12; if otherwise, HIT.
- Stand when you have a 13 going against the dealer’s upcard of 3 to 6; if otherwise, HIT.
- Stand against the dealer’s cards from 2 to 6 when your totals are between 14 and 16
- Always STAND on totals 17 and higher
H = Hit
S = Stand
DH = Double if possible; otherwise, Hit
What to do when you have Soft Hands
- Always STAND on soft 19 and higher card values
- With a soft 18, double down against the dealer’s cards of 5 and 6; if the dealer’s upcard is an ace or a 9 or 10, HIT and if otherwise, STAND.
- Always HIT on soft hands from 13 to 15.
- Double down against the dealer’s upcard of 6 with a soft 16.
What to do when you have a pair of cards for splitting
- Always split an ace
- Stand on a pair of 10s
- Split a pair of 9s against the dealer’s upcard of 4,5,6,8, and 9; otherwise, STAND.
- Split a pair of 8s against the dealer’s upcard of 2 to 9; otherwise, HIT.
- Split a pair of 7s against the dealer’s cards from 2 to 7; otherwise, HIT.
- Split a pair of 6s against the dealer’s cards of 4,5, and 6; otherwise, HIT.
- Double down against 2 to 8 when you have a pair of 5s; otherwise, HIT.
- Always HIT on a pair of 4s.
- Split a pair of 2s and 3s against 5, 6, and 7; otherwise, HIT.
It is important to reiterate that these strategies do not guarantee anything. This can only serve as a guide to help you make better decisions.
Blackjack Switch offers a unique switch from the classical blackjack game to offer players what they wish for, switching cards. Usually, this is considered a cheat move that is punishable while playing other game variants. However, in Blackjack Switch, the player can switch cards to make both hands stronger or a single hand, depending on the strategy used. While the game generally offers more opportunity for a win since the player wagers on two independent hands, it has its peculiar rules that atone for this advantage. Even more, the strategy of deciding when to split hands is a very tricky one. The advanced strategy is a little tricky, but it is worth it.
What is Blackjack Switch?
This is a popular variant of blackjack where the player is allowed to switch cards from one hand to the other. Switching is permitted once in the game, and the player must wager on two independent hands for this to be eligible.
Does Blackjack Switch have the same rules are the traditional blackjack?
For most parts, the answer is yes. Starting with the game’s objective. However, there are many rules where these two games differ. For example, the dealer is not busted at 22 in Blackjack Switch, whereas that is not the case for classical blackjack.
Can a player hit blackjack after making a switch?
No, when you make a switch, there is no such thing as blackjack. A hand of 21 counts as 21 and not a blackjack.