Yesterday I tried a blackjack variation called “blackjack switch” for the first time. I had heard about the game but had never played it. I’ve yet to find a brick and mortar casino that offers blackjack switch, but you can find it sometimes online and of course in a game between friends you can play with whatever rules you want.
Blackjack switch is a variation that basically allows players to do something that is cheating (and a common cheating technique at that) in traditional blackjack. In this game, you play two hands at a time and have the opportunity to switch cards between the hands. For example, if you are dealt a hand of a 10 and 5 (15) and another hand of a Jack and 6 (16), you could swap the cards to make hands of 10-J (20) and 6-5 (13). In this scenario, making the switch is an easy decision because you traded two stiff hands for one stiff hand and a hand of 20.
Unless otherwise noted, the other rules in blackjack switch are the same as in traditional blackjack. However, to counteract the player advantage of allowing player switching, blackjacks only pay out 1:1 instead of the standard 3:2. Not only that, but the dealer basically has a one-point safety net. If the dealer draws a 22, which normally busts him, it is a push against any player hand except a 21, where the player would win. Drawing a 23 or higher does bust the dealer, though. Because of the rule making a dealer 22 a push, basic strategy for blackjack switch (after switching) is slightly different from traditional blackjack. There is also a generally accepted basic strategy for when to switch, but unlike regular blackjack basic strategy, it is far from simple and the complex strategy is not something I am going to delve into here.
Despite allowing players to switch cards, the house edge for this variation is slightly higher than with traditional blackjack. Playing perfect strategy, the house edge for this blackjack variation is 0.58%.