Is that Harry Potter playing Blackjack?!

            A couple of months ago, my son, who is a college freshman , and I were walking through a local mall when he was telling me about some of the interesting people on his campus.  Apparently, there is one young man who wears ‘wizard’ clothing every day.  My son remarked “maybe if you’re buying all your clothes at Party City, you need to change your wardrobe.”  Maybe the kid was just hoping to land the job as official spokesman of the new game Blackjack Switch.

            We’ve all sat down at a Blackjack table at some point and watched as we are dealt a series of bad hands.  After a while, we notice the person next to us is being dealt hands just as bad, but like a mirror image.  We’re getting 5-10, he’s getting face-6.  Sooner or later, one of you joke how you wish you could switch your 2nd cards with each other.  Geoff Hall decided to do something about it.  He invented Blackjack Switch.

            It’s a very simple concept.  You play two Blackjack hands (equal wagers).  The Dealer deals you your regular 2 cards for each hand.  When it is your turn, you can ask him to switch the 2nd cards of the two hands.  So, if you’re dealt a 5-10 and a face-6, you now have a 5-6 and a 10-Face.  Two really lousy hands just became two killer hands!  So, what’s the catch?

            Well, being able to switch your cards like this is a pretty big advantage for the Player, so the house has to take a few things back.  First, a Natural Blackjack pays only even money.  A switched Blackjack only counts as a regular 21.  The ‘biggie’ is that a Dealer 22 (i.e. a busted hand) will PUSH against all Player non-busted hands EXCEPT a Player Natural Blackjack.  Other than that, the rules are pretty standard and moderately liberal.  The Player can double down on any two cards.  He can split until 4 hands.  (It should be noted that you should verify these rules before sitting down to play as casinos can sometimes choose to tighten up the rules a bit).

            Blackjack Switch gives the Player the opportunity to spend a lot more time playing good hands.  In order to get to this position, however, you’ll need to learn a whole new layer of strategy dealing with WHEN to switch cards.  Unfortunately, there is no simple strategy I can provide you.  The only way to know when to switch is by comparing the expected values (EV) of your initially dealt hands with the expected values of your potentially switched hands.  On a positive note, I’ve already done the hard part – calculating these expected values.  So, you just need to look up your hands on a simple chart.

            The second part of the strategy is knowing when to hit, stick, double and split.  The bad news is that if you attempt to use standard Blackjack strategy for Blackjack Switch, you’ll DOUBLE the house advantage even if you switch at all the right times.  The Dealer pushing on 22s greatly alters our strategy.  Doubling on soft hands is nearly nonexistent.  A Dealer upcard of a ‘2’ is transformed from a so-so upcard into a rather powerful one for the Dealer.  The bottom line is you need to throw out everything you learned about regular Blackjack strategy and replace it with a new Blackjack Switch strategy.  Again, I’ve done the hard part and figured out when to hit, stick, etc…

            When all is said and done, if you learn when to switch and you learn the right strategy, Blackjack Switch will afford you a payback right up there with regular Blackjack (about 99.4+%).  At the same time, you’ll be playing a more entertaining version of the game that keeps you involved in the play because you will be busting less often as you will have much better hands on average.

            Shuffle Master is the worldwide distributor of Blackjack Switch and from what I’m told you can now find more than 100 tables in the marketplace, and it is growing monthly.  You can read more about the game and where to find it on their Blackjack Switch Facebook page (

            I just picked up from the printer my brand new booklet Expert Strategy for Blackjack Switch.  It comes with a full-color 4-panel double sided strategy card which has both the expected values to help you decide when to switch AND the hit/stick strategy.  It will also go into far more detail on how the strategy was developed (and why it is mathematically sound!) and what to expect from this new Blackjack variant.  The booklet and strategy card sell for $6.95, but I’m running an introductory special for the month of March of just $5.95.  Additional strategy cards can be ordered for just $1.50 if you order the booklet or for $2.95 alone.  Head on over to my website at and download the order form to order or just send a check or money order to Compu-Flyers, P.O. Box 132, Bogota, NJ 07603