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Blackjack Switch

Introduction

Blackjack Switch is a variant of the standard Blackjack game. Invented by Geoff Hall ( See our interview here), the game is widely available in US offline casinos and initially was exclusively offered at Playtech casinos online. We are currently aware of Blackjack Switch being offered by the following online casino softwares – Playtech, GamesOS*, DGS, GameScale** and GameSys.

Knowing the owner of the proprietary rights to the game Blackjack Switch, only Playtech and GamesOS  software are offering this game legally.

Play Structure

Differences from standard Blackjack and other standard game rules;

·         The player must play 2 hands.

·         The top card dealt to each player hand can be switched. This can only be done before any Hit, Stand, Double or Split decisions have been made (Surrender is unavailable when playing Blackjack Switch).

·         Blackjack pays at 1 to 1.

·         A dealer 22 pushes all player hands other than Blackjack.

·         The dealer must hit Soft 17

·         Full Peak (Blackjack’s revealed before hands are played)

·         No Resplits (maximum 4 hands)

·         Double After Split allowed

·         6 decks

Other than the above the game functions as a standard Blackjack game in terms of the play of hands and how wins are decided.

Rule Variations

Over and above the above mentioned rules, online every software provider we’re aware of offers slight variations in rules as detailed below;

DGS – Double on hard 10 and 11 only

GamesOS* – 8 decks, Switched Blackjack counted at 21

GameScale** – 8 decks

GameSys – Switched Blackjack counted as 21, Resplits allowed (maximum 8 hands), Ace/King of Spades Blackjack pays 2 to 1 (No House Edge version only, only first two cards)

Playtech – Standard rules shown above.

* GamesOS Blackjack Switch was found to be running their game with a very detrimental rule that contradicted their game help file (tied hands considered a win for the dealer which seems likely to add 10% onto the House Edge). For more information on this issue click here. This issue has subsequently been rectified and the current House Edge is detailed below. Alongside this, their Blackjack Switch game help file contains content that has been used without permission from another site. For more information click here. For these reasons we do not recommend playing with any casino using GamesOS software.

**Casinos running GameScale software are all run by the software provider and have a generally negative reputation. We do not recommend playing with any casino using GameScale software.

Optimal Strategy

There are two different decision sets to be considered when playing Blackjack Switch. The first decision relates to whether or not to switch the top cards of the two hands, then after a switch has been made or declined, the standard Basic Strategy decisions that are required for all Blackjack games.

Switching Strategy

Switching strategy should remain relatively consistent across most rule variations. You may be less likely to switch to a 9 where you can only Double on 10 or 11 but it’s unlikely this would make a substantial difference to the overall return of the game. Where the strategy may vary is when a switched Blackjack is counted as 21 (i.e. is not an automatic winner and can be pushed by a dealer 21 or 22).

Below we provide a Switching Strategy calculator. It’s currently only calibrated to provide strategy for the standard rules listed at the start of this article, but we hope to include the important rule variations in the near future.

If it’s not feasible to use the Switch Strategy Calculator above, Arnold Snyder published a simplified strategy that will take the player within 0.2% of optimal here – http://www.blackjackforumonline.com/content/blackjackswitchbasicstrategy.htm

Basic Strategy

The Basic Strategy for the standard Blackjack Switch rules listed above is as follows;

 

  Dealer’s Upcard
Player’s Hand 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 T A
5-8 H H H H H H H H H H
9 H H H D D H H H H H
10 D D D D D D D H H H
11 D D D D D D D D H H
12 H H H S S H H H H H
13 H S S S S H H H H H
14 S S S S S H H H H H
15 S S S S S H H H H H
16 S S S S S H H H H H
17+ S S S S S S S S S S
A2 H H H H H H H H H H
A3 H H H H H H H H H H
A4 H H H H H H H H H H
A5 H H H H D H H H H H
A6 H H H D D H H H H H
A7 S S S Ds Ds S S H H H
A8 S S S S S S S S S S
A9 S S S S S S S S S S
22 H H H P P P H H H H
33 H H H P P P H H H H
44 H H H H H H H H H H
55 D D D D D D D H H H
66 H H P P P H H H H H
77 S P P P P P H H H H
88 P P P P P P P P H H
99 S S P P P S P P S S
TT S S S S S S S S S S
AA P P P P P P P P P P

 

Legend

Code Best Play
H Hit
S Stand
D Double else Hit
Ds Double else Stand
P Split

 

Where 8 decks are used rather than 6 the only change to the above is that you Hit rather than Double 9vs5.

Switched Blackjack counting as 21 should make no difference to the Basic Strategy decisions.

House Edge*

The House Edge for Blackjack Switch depends on the rule set and is shown below;

DGS – ~0.35%
GamesOS – 0.55%
GameScale – 0.17%
GameSys – ~0.50% (non-House Edge free version)
Playtech – 0.15%

Fairness Calculator

Below you can find a calculator to allow you to check the fairness of your wins/losses when playing Blackjack Switch.

*This fairness calculator will assume that you’ve been playing with the optimal strategy detailed above. If you have not then the calculator will NOT return accurate results.

Winning Strategies

Offline

Blackjack Switch is likely to be vulnerable to all of the standard advantage play techniques that standard Blackjack can be beaten by. Strategies for gaining an edge over this game are not in common circulation (we are aware of no publications discussing these issues either on or offline), but at least in the case of Card Counting Eliot Jacobson has confirmed Blackjack Switch can be beaten.

Hole Carding may or may not be possible depending on whether the game is played with a Hole Card. We’ve read conflicting regarding this online.

Online

There are several methods of legitimately gaining an advantage playing online Blackjack Switch games. By and large these involve the use of promotions, bonuses and comp point systems as the games by themselves – assuming the game is functioning in a correct fashion and there are no errors in the paytable – will not provide any additional information about the cards and shuffles after every hand.

It should be noted that online advantage play is not specific to Blackjack Switch and in recent years the wagering requirements for player’s choosing to play any table game has inflated to the point that Blackjack Switch is now often a sub-optimal choice for the player. For more information on beating online casinos see BeatingBonuses.com.

* All ‘House Edge’ figures in this article are based on the ‘loss per unit wagered’ rather than ‘loss per initial bet’.