Blackjack switch was created by a card counter, Geoff Hall who introduced this blackjack variation in October 2000 at a Las Vegas gaming convention. It was subsequently introduced to the casinos in February 2001. Hall ended up patenting the game in 2009. It’s now widely played around the world and in Playtech casinos in Vegas.
Blackjack switch is played with a standard four to eight 52 card deck shuffled together. Rather than playing one hand the player has two hands with two betting boxes. The first cards are all dealt to the players face up including the dealer. Then a subsequent card for each of the players. Blackjack Switch tables typically allow a side bet, called Super Match, which rewards pairs, three-of-a-kind, two-pairs or four-of-a-kind among the four initial cards comprising the players two hands. For a 6-deck game, the Super Match bet pays out 1 to 1 if there a pair is present, 5 to 1 for three of a kind, 8 to 1 for two pairs and 40 to 1 for four of a kind. This seems to mitigate the adverse effect on the player of the case where the two top or bottom cards are identical, which robs the player of a meaningful switching decision, although, like most side bets, playing it increases the house edge.
After the side bet players can opt to switch their top cards with one another. This may sound a little bit confusing, but to simplify lets use two sample hands.
First hand: 3-10
Second hand: Ace-8
10-3 would not be the most favourable hand in any Blackjack situation. To switch the player would have the 8 in the second hand replaced by the 10 in the first now giving the player a total of 11 and a 21 for the second hand. This isn’t considered a Blackjack, but it’s a “lock” which is a winning hand.
After the switch.
First hand: 3-8 (Player should double down now.)
Second hand: Ace-10 (Player has 21.)
Once that’s complete they’re asked to hit, stand, or double down. The objective is still the same in getting 21 or closest to it. In this variation a 22 for the dealer is a push against all remaining players. This gives the house a significant advantage. Most likely the primary reason why it’s readily accepted in casinos. Llike in regular Blackjack depending on the casino rules some dealer stand or hit with soft 17 which is a hand containing an Ace.
Summary of Rules:
All rules are based on conventional Blackjack unless otherwise noted.
Four to eight decks are used.
Depending on the casino rules dealer hits or stands on a soft 17. (Hand with an Ace.)
The player must make two bets of equal size.
Cards are dealt face up.
Dealer will check for Blackjack with an Ace, Face card or ten up. If the dealer has a Blackjack all player hands will immediately lose, with an exception of a player who has Blackjack. That would be a push.
The player may opt toswitch the second card dealt to each hand. For example, if one hand has 5,10 and the other has 10,6, the player may switch the 10 and 6 to have two hands of 11 and 20. The player may also switch cards to form a blackjack.
If the player switches to a blackjack, it counts as 21 points.
Player may double on any two cards.
Player may double after a split.
Player may re-split up to four hands.
Winning player blackjacks pay even money as opposed to 3:2 with standard Blackjack.
A dealer total of 22 will push against any player total of 21 or less. A player Blackjack will still beat a dealer 22.
While the players odds are conceived to increase with the option to switch the top cards having the dealer win with 21 and 22 counterbalances that. Seeing that the creator of the game was a card counter he was most likely aware of the advantages for both the players and house. It’s definitely a game worth checking out if you’re already a Blackjack enthusiast. Whether the player has a stronger edge against the house vs a standard game of 21 remains to be seen. One thing is for certain I wouldn’t bet against the house.
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