Try Blackjack Switch for more blackjack excitement

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A few weeks ago, I was sitting at a blackjack table when the guy next to me was dealt a 10-5 on one hand and a 6-Q on the other. He pulled out a wand, pointed at the two hands and I sat there amazed as the Q and 5 changed places.

His two stiff hands were now a 20 and an 11. He doubled on the 11 and hit a king!

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Way to turn a losing situation into a big winner! It was now my turn to play my 9-7 and 3-J. I muttered how I wish I had remembered to bring my wand to the casino when the dealer looked at me and said “You don’t need a wand to play Blackjack Switch. That other guy is Mr. Potter and he just likes to make a show of it!”

That’s right, you don’t need magic to switch your second cards in Blackjack Switch. You just need to sit down at a table. You can leave your magic wand at home, but you better bring a brand new strategy with you.
Blackjack Switch was invented by Geoff Hall, and Shuffle Master is now the exclusive distributor of the game. There are over 100 games in the marketplace and it is growing fast. You can find it at dozens of casinos around Las Vegas already.

The rules of Blackjack Switch are fairly straight forward. The player must play two hands of blackjack with equal initial wagers. After being dealt both cards for both hands and seeing the dealer upcard, the player can choose to switch the second cards of his two hands.

From there, play continues pretty much as usual. Of course, the player doesn’t get this huge benefit without giving something up in return. In Blackjack Switch, a dealer 22 (i.e. a bust of 22) pushes against all non-busted player hands except a natural blackjack.

Also, a natural blackjack only pays even money. Switched Blackjack counts as a regular 21. But, other than that, the player can double on any two cards, can split his hands and play by normal blackjack rules.

So, while the rules are as per regular blackjack, the strategy is anything but. First, the player needs to know when to perform the “switch.” The only way to know when to do this is to compare the expected values (EVs) of the dealt hands with those of the potentially switched hands.

Whichever combination provides the highest total EV is the proper play. Fortunately, I’ve already done this hard work for you, so just do some quick lookups of the dealt hands on the Blackjack Switch EV table and compare them.

Note that you should expect to switch often. The switched hands are just as likely as the dealt hands to have the higher expected values. Thus, excluding the times it won’t matter (i.e. dealt four face cards), you should expect to switch 50% of the time.

Including the situations where it doesn’t matter if you switch, you’ll switch about 36% of the time.

Once you’ve gotten past the switch decision, you’ll also need a brand new hit/stick strategy. The dealer pushing on 22 causes significant changes on how we play our hands. Many of our double down situations are a result of the dealer’s poor hand.

Normally, we double down hoping the dealer will bust as often as when we draw well. A dealer 22 pushing is now far less likely to truly bust. As a result, the number of double down conditions goes way down.

Also, a 2 as a dealer upcard goes from a so-so upcard to a rather powerful one. Thus, we never stick against a 2 (with any hand below a 17).

Blackjack Switch affords the player an opportunity for a more exciting version of blackjack while still offering a comparable payback. The overall payback of Blackjack Switch, assuming you switch when you are supposed to and use the proper hit/stick strategy, is 99.55%. Use standard blackjack hit/stick strategy and you’ll take it down to 99.12%. Don’t bother to ever switch and your payback would go all the way down to 90.88%!

Just this month, I completed Expert Strategy for Blackjack Switch, a 14-page booklet that explains everything about the game – the rules, the method for analysis, the strategy and what to expect. It even covers the two most common sidebets for Blackjack Switch – Buster Blackjack and Super Match.

It comes with a 4-panel double-sided full-color strategy card (folds down to business card size) that includes both the Expected Value table and the hit/stick strategy. It regularly sells for $6.95, but for GamingToday readers, I’m making it available for just $5.95.

You can order extra strategy cards (when you order the booklet) for $1.50 or just the strategy card for $2.95. If you’d like to order, please send a check or money order to Compu-Flyers, P.O. Box 132, Bogota, NJ 07603.

(NOTE: Check Elliot’s new website www.gambatria.com or his blog at gambatria.blogspot.com. He posts additional articles on all sorts of gambling topics there. Feel free to drop him an e-mail at [email protected]

About the Author

Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome’s roots run deep into gaming theory and analysis. His father, Lenny, was a pioneer in developing video poker strategy in the 1980s and is credited with raising its popularity to dizzying heights. Elliot is a second generation gaming author and analyst with nearly 20 years of programming experience.

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