***Updated: November 15, 2018***
The story goes that Geoff Hall, an English card counter and shuffle tracker, habitually staked multiple spots on tables and became frustrated with receiving two weak hands simultaneously one night. His mind then wandered and indulged in a gambler’s fantasy of being permitted to swap useless top cards into a stronger hand. He explored this idea further and ended up devising a new version named Blackjack Switch, turning the classic table game upside down.
In order to persuade casinos into offering it, he had to neutralize the huge player advantage of switching cards, so Hall reduced payouts on any blackjack to a standard return of 1:1. It was subsequently introduced in 2001 at Harvey’s Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa to mixed reception.
A few years later Hall included a “Push on 22” rule making a dealer 22 a “tie” rather than a “win” for participants, except against player blackjacks. This modification helped popularize the game with operators so he filed for a patent in 2009. Consequently, Switch can be found in all top land-based Las Vegas destinations and countless iGaming websites as well.
Those seated must place two wagers of equal size in designated betting boxes on the table felt in front of them. Six or eight decks are utilized, dealers hitting on
Soft 17s at nearly every establishment. Doubling and re-splitting are permitted, although online rules are typically not as generous for these, so read individual operator reviews or respective FAQ pages to confirm details.
House edge is similar to razor-thin margins on Single Deck, assuming optimal strategy is employed. Most experts agree no such thing as a “perfect strategy” for Blackjack Switch exists, which is of course contrary to overwhelming consensus on Standard 21.
Professionals like Cindy Liu, Arnold Snyder, and Karl Janeček have weighed in on basic and advanced strategies and confirmed that at a fundamental level, it’s advised to form the best single hand possible. However, sometimes the correct decision is to separate a winning hand in order to form two good ones in order to take advantage of weak dealer cards.
Side Bets: The Super Match
Super Match is a widely encountered Blackjack Switch side bet, resolved based on the “hand” formed by players’ initial four cards. Pairs pay even money, Three-of-a-Kind returns 5:1, two pairs awards 8:1, and Four-of-a-Kind scores a 40:1 jackpot.
If successful, these are immensely gratifying, especially when using cards that would have been worthless pitted against dealers.
Final Notes on the House Edge
In regards to House edge, this is one of the most profitable 21 versions available since on average, it gives participants better odds of success. Some variants, such as switched blackjacks automatically winning, extend an approximate return of 99.8%.
These potential gains are why Switch is becoming extremely popular, a great way to stretch small bankrolls further and experience fun and excitement in the process.