Blackjack Switch Strategy Guide
Blackjack Switch is a blackjack variation available online primarily through Playtech. The key feature of this title is that you always play two hands at a time, and you have the ability to switch the back cards between those hands if you want before making any other decisions. This adds a tremendous level of strategy and new possibilities that cannot be found in other styles of the game.
Introduction to Blackjack Switch
If you’re the type of player who loves games with a lot of strategy, then you can most likely appreciate what blackjack brings to the table because of the large number of situations that you have to learn to become proficient at the game.
However, if you add new elements to this title, you can end up with even more layers of strategy, which adds that much more to the experience.
Blackjack Switch is a title that effectively “overlays” an extra strategic decision on top of a more typical style of blackjack game.
The idea for this game actually comes from a popular way to try to cheat at brick and mortar blackjack. In many games, particularly if the dealers aren’t paying that much attention like they should, players who have multiple hands going can switch cards between those hands to get a pretty sizeable advantage over the casino.
This was the inspiration for the switching mechanic in this title.
House Advantage and Payout Rates
The best payout rate that you can get with perfect play at Playtech’s version of Blackjack Switch is 99.83 percent. This corresponds to a house edge of 0.17 percent.
With that having been said, it’s important that other software companies that offer online Blackjack Switch may have slightly different rules that move the house edge up or down a bit. However, it’s not likely to find a version of this game online (we looked and actually couldn’t find any) that has a house edge of more than 0.5 percent.
As a result, this is by far one of the best bets available in any online casino as long as you put the time in to learn the appropriate strategies for the game.
Important Rules for Blackjack Switch
This is a pretty standard blackjack game with a few exceptions that are really critical for understanding strategy for the game. First, we have the rules for the switching option:
- Players always have to place bets on two spots on the table at a time in order to play two hands at a time in this game. Playing any other number of hands is not allowed.
- After making a bet, the cards are dealt with two to each of the two face-up spots. The player will then have an option to switch the top cards of the two hands only. No other combination of switching is allowed.
- Once the decision to switch or not switch is made, you’ll play through your two hands normally with no option to switch again for the remainder of the hand.
The switching mechanic is pretty easy to understand. With that aside, there are also a handful of other rules for this game that are critical for players who want to employ the best strategies they can:
- The dealer stands on a soft 17. It’s worth noting that this is in the player’s favor compared to the alternative.
- The dealer always peeks for blackjack when showing an ace or a ten card.
- If you have 21 after switching, it does not count as a blackjack and only counts as a normal total of 21; blackjack pays 1:1.
- You can double on any two cards and can also double after splitting.
- Splitting is allowed to up to four hands total.
- When the dealer has 22, that’s a push against any player total that did not bust. The exception is a player with blackjack, which beats a dealer 22.
As you can see, the major changes to the rule set are about blackjack only paying 1:1 and the situation with a dealer total of 22. The latter rule heavily informs strategies for doubling and splitting in particular.
Strategies for Blackjack Switch
There are two areas of strategy for this game. The first has to do with knowing when to switch and when not to switch, and the second is for playing the hands after the switching decision has been made.
Neither of these are more important than the other, and both really need to be learned to a serious degree if you want to maximize your payout rate and minimize the house advantage in this game.
When to Switch Cards
Since you make the switching decision first, we’ll start with a strategy for making the decision easy. To begin with, we need to make something perfectly clear:
It’s not inside the capabilities of most human beings to learn how to make this switching decision perfectly because of all of the information required to do so. Instead, we’ll show you a much easier strategy to learn that will have you playing correctly the vast majority of the time.
Along these lines, the first thing you have to do is learn the following rankings for blackjack hand strength for this switching round (strongest hands listed first for each tier):
- Elite Tier – 21, 20, 19, AA
- Top Tier – 11, 10, 9
- Mid Tier – 18, 8, 16 made with two 8s
- Low Tier – Everything else
Once you learn this chart, your strategy will be as follows based on the value of the card that the dealer is showing:
- Dealer Showing 7 or 8 – Switch if doing so will increase the value of your lowest ranked hand.
- Dealer Showing Anything Else – Switch if doing so will increase the value of your highest ranked hand.
All you have to do is learn the simple chart above, and you’ll be able to play the switching decision almost perfectly by following this simple rule about whether or not the dealer is showing a 7 or 8.
How to Play Your Hands Further
To learn the strategies for this game after the switching decision has been made, you’re going to want to start with a strong base for basic strategy for multi-deck blackjack. From there, there are a handful of changes that need to be made to adjust to the special rule set here, particularly regarding the rules about a dealer with a total of 22.
We will present these strategies as a series of adjustments to make from how you would normally play in a multi-deck game.
Adjustment 1: Doubling With Low Totals
You have the ability to double with any two cards in this game, and you get to take advantage of that rule like you normally would with a total of nine by doubling when the dealer shows a six.
However, when you have a total of 10, you’ll only double when facing an eight or below. Likewise, holding a total of 11 means doubling against a nine or lower. These adjustments are completely and totally because the dealer having 22 will result in a push if you double with any of these totals.
Adjustment 2: Doubling With Soft Hands
In most multi-deck blackjack hands, you’ll have some profitable doubling opportunities with soft hands when facing certain weak dealer totals. These opportunities are severely lessened in Blackjack Switch, and again, it comes down to the rule about a dealer with 22.
When you hold a soft 16, you’ll only double against a dealer with a six, which is the dealer’s weakest starting card.
Additionally, holding a soft 17 or 18 will mean that you double against a dealer holding a five or six.
These are the only spots where it’s correct to double with a soft hand, and this game has a major trap where a lot of players who aren’t familiar with the rules will double a lot more often instead.
Adjustment 3: Playing a Soft 18
You can often be really aggressive with a soft 18 when there are liberal doubling rules, but that’s not the case here. While we mentioned above that you can double when facing a five or six, that’s really the only time you can be that aggressive.
Hitting should only happen when facing a dealer showing a nine, ten or ace. The rest of the time, you should be standing.
Adjustment 4: Playing Paired Eights
One of the most well-known rules of thumb for blackjack is to always split with aces or eights. This game breaks that rule if you have eights and are facing a ten or ace. In these situations, you should simply hit instead.
The reason for this is that a dealer with a ten or ace is disproportionately more likely to get a total of 22 compared to other starting cards. Along these lines, there’s a whole lot of value being lost if you split those eights since a player hand starting with eight will have a big disadvantage against a dealer with a ten or ace with these rules.
The strategies involved for Blackjack Switch aren’t that much more difficult than what you’ll find with plenty other blackjack games. The catch, however, is the nature of the rule changes and making the right adjustments for the rule about the dealer holding 22 being a push.
Learning how to play the switch decision correctly the vast majority of the time is actually pretty easy if you use the chart approach that we have laid out above, and that’s a bit counter-intuitive since you would think that it would be much more difficult to learn than it is.
The bottom line is that this is a great game to transition to if you already have a strong base in multi-deck blackjack that can allow you to get a much lower house advantage and a much higher payout rate with a more interesting and fun-filled style of play.