***Updated: November 15, 2018***
The story goes that Geoff Hall, an English blackjack card counter and shuffle tracker, was used to playing multiple spots on a table and became frustrated at being dealt two weak hands at the same time one night. His mind then wandered and he indulged in a gambler’s fantasy of being able to switch the useless top cards into two playable blackjack hands. He then went off and explored this idea further and ended up devising a new version he named Blackjack Switch, turning the classic table game upside down.
In order to be able to persuade casinos into offering the game he had to neutralize the huge player advantage of switching cards, so Hall reduced the payout on any blackjack to a standard return of 1:1. The game was then introduced in 2001 at Harvey’s Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa to mixed reviews.
A few years later Hall included a “Push on 22” rule that made a dealer’s 22 a tie rather than a win for all players, except the dealer 22 cannot beat a player blackjack. This modification helped popularize the game with casino operators so Hall filed for a patent in 2009. These days Blackjack Switch can be found in all of the best Las Vegas establishments and in many online casinos as well.
The player must make two wagers of equal size in the betting boxes that are designated on the table felt in front of them. Six or eight decks will be used in the game and the dealer will hit on a soft 17 at nearly every establishment. Doubling and re-splitting are permitted, although online rules are typically not so generous for these types of wagers so you’ll have to read up on individual reviews to find the best place for you.
The House Edge on Blackjack Switch is similar to the razor-thin margins on standard single-deck blackjack, assuming that you are playing according to the optimal strategy. Most experts agree that there is no such thing as a “perfect strategy” for Blackjack Switch, which is of course contrary to the overwhelming consensus on the fact that there is a “proper strategy for standard blackjack”.
Experts like Cindy Liu, Arnold Snyder, and Karl Janeček have all weighed in on basic and advanced strategies and at its most fundamental level, players are advised to form the best single hand possible. However, there are times when the correct play is to separate the cards of a winning blackjack hand in order to make two good hands to play against a weak dealer hand.
Side Bets: The Super Match
Super Match is a widely encountered side bet at a Blackjack Switch table. The bet is resolved based on the “hand” formed by the player’s initial four cards. Pairs pay even money, Three-of-a-Kind returns 5 to 1, two pairs pays out 8 to 1, and Four-of-a-Kind scores a 40 to 1 jackpot.
Winning these side bets is always gratifying and its even better if you are using cards that would have been worthless playing blackjack against the dealer.
Final Notes on the House Edge
In regards to House Edge, Blackjack Switch is one of the best versions of 21 offered in casinos since on average it gives the player a better chance to win. With some variants of the game, such as a switched blackjack automatically winning, the player can expect an approximate return of 99.8%.
These odds are the reason that Switch is becoming one of the more popular variations of blackjack – it’s a great way to make a small bankroll go farther and experience some fun and excitement in the process.