Have you ever looked at your hand after splitting and wished you could just switch the top 2 cards to make two very powerful hands? Blackjack switch is a variation of the game 21 that offers just that option. If it sounds too good to be true, it almost is. Played optimally with a perfect strategy this version of the game has a 0,17% house advantage. Compare that to the 0,5% advantage when playing basic strategy it looks like you may be able to deal with the fact that the casino pays even money and the dealer doesn’t lose when he busts.
The game is simple but instead of beginning with a single hand, the player starts with 2 hands receiving a second card dealt face up on both. So right off the bat that’s double the investment than if you were playing a regular game of 21. With this in mind neglecting one hand means simply breaking even with the 1:1 payout.
Switching is not mandatory but by looking at the 2 hands, switch them in your mind. The top 3 most desirable hands would be in order, 21, 20 and 19, followed by AA, 11 or 10. If you can switch to improve just one hand, go ahead, being mindful not to negatively impact the other.
Once switched the game continues as normal with the player making regular decisions such as hit, stand, double or split.
When the dealer has a 7 or 8 the idea is to concentrate on the weaker hand making it as strong as possible so that the two hands are as balanced as possible in terms of strength.
When the dealers up card shows any other value, turn to the stronger hand to see how you can maximize its strength.
If you aren’t able to make a strong hand look to make a hand with 2 cards of the same value and proceed to split them.
Other rules that play out in the players favour:
- The dealer hits on soft 17 (He also peeks for blackjack with an ace or 10 value card.)
- The player can double after splitting
- Splitting is allowed up to as many as 4 times
Dealer doesn’t bust
One of the ways that the house has tried to compensate for the huge player advantage is to allow the dealer to push on 22. What this means is that instead of busting with a total of 22 against a player who holds a hand of 21 or less, the dealer ties and the players gets their bet returned to them intact.
Even money payouts for Blackjack
Another big disappointment for seasoned blackjack players who are used to getting paid out 2:3 for a natural, players only get paid 1:1. What’s more is that if the dealer gets blackjack all hands lose. The only exception is a player with blackjack, in which case it’s a tie.
While the decision to switch may be obvious, it isn’t always and there are 2 ways that you can be sure you are making the correct decision in this case. Playing Blackjack Switch according the basic strategy or making errors outside of optimal play will increase the house advantage.
Using the tips above to help you in your decision can leave a margin of error. To reduce this try one of the online calculators that have been developed by the blackjack experts to give you an error free decision making tool. In a real life situation however you are going to be forced to go with your gut.
Once you have made your switching decision, the hand plays out as normal, however the moves are not identical to basic strategy. As with basic strategy, where you were able to refer to a chart, blackjack switch also has a chart that you can refer to courtesy of Wizard of Odds. A quick glance at this chart will show you that while it looks roughly the same, mainly doubling and splitting have been affected.
Super match side bet
As with all side bets the rewards are promising yet the risks are high. The side bet that often accompanies this version of blackjack is a bet on the first 4 cards only and pays for a pair, 3 of a kind, 2 pairs and 4 of a kind. The house edge on this side bet sits at around 2,55% and isn’t as high as many of the other commonly offered side bets.
With a small house advantage plus 2 hands to work with and an optional side bet this version of 21 looks like it could be profitable once you are able to reduce your margin of error. Accepting even money on blackjack and watching a dealer push when he busts could be a little disconcerting in the beginning, but nothing you can’t get used to.