Playing in Blackjack Switch

Blackjack Switch is a newer blackjack variation. And while players do have to wager more in a round than they would in a standard game, I find that I do not mind. For one thing the extra wagering is not for a side bet, it is for a second hand that is mandatory to play Switch with. And for another thing this blackjack variation relies on skill, logical thinking and blackjack strategy.

The way Blackjack Switch is played is with two hands per player. The round begins with the player setting out two wagers of equal amounts. The player is then dealt one card for the first hand and then the first card for the second hand; once both first cards are dealt each hand will receive its second cards.

The unique thing about Switch is that, once it is your turn to play, you can tell the dealer to switch the two second cards of your hands. The strategy is to strengthen your hands and your position against the dealer.

For example if you were dealt a 10 on your first hand and a 5 on your second hand, and then received a 6 on the 10 and an Ace on the 5 you would be in a tough spot if this were an ordinary blackjack game.

But you are not in an ordinary blackjack game. You are in a game of Blackjack Switch.

At this point you have a soft 16 on your first hand and a hard 16 on the second hand. Tricky spot to be in normally. But in Switch you can signal to the dealer at the beginning of your turn to switch your second cards. Once that switch is made you then have 10/Ace and a 5/6: a natural blackjack and hard 11, which you can double down on.

Unfortunately you would only receive an even money payout for the natural blackjack. Normally I would not play in a game that paid me even money for a natural. But in the case of this game, I am willing to take the even money payout so that I can have the ability to switch my cards. The ability to switch does make for more blackjacks.

That and in the case of the above example, I would rather have the even money payout than lose my wager like I probably would have done if I had not switched.

See, this is the kind of logic that I am talking about. Players have to think about whether their original hands are stronger than the hands that would be formed if they had the second cards switched. Because of that logic and that little extra challenge, Blackjack Switch has become the variation I would turn to if I wanted a break from blackjack but still wanted to play.

Blackjack Variation: Spanish 21

Spanish 21 is a blackjack variation in which there is a fairly good balance between the rules that favor the house and the rules that favor the player. In fact, it is the one blackjack variation which has a balance similar to a standard game of blackjack, unlike other variations, which are skewed heavily to the house.

This morning I discussed how the rules and game set up for blackjack actually is pretty balanced. So let’s take a look at what Spanish 21 one is and what its balance is.

First, the bad news. Spanish 21 is played with the 10 cards removed. All of the face cards are still in play, but the actual cards with 10 of their suit are removed. Removing 10 cards from the deck does hurt the player. Spanish 21 is also played with six to eight decks, and we all know that the more decks being used, the better the odds for the house.

And now the good news. There is a whole host of player favorable rules to help make up for the hit to the player’s blackjack odds by the multi decks and removed 10s.

Let’s first look at why 21 features in this variation’s name. Player 21s will always win against the dealer rather than pushing. And a player’s natural blackjack will always beat the dealer’s natural blackjack. Again, no pushing.

Players are allowed to make late surrender. And late surrender can happen after doubling down. This is known as the “Double down Rescue” because the player gives up an amount of their wager that is equal to their original wager. So it is like a normal surrender when you surrender half of your wager, except in this rule you are surrendering half of the total doubled down wager.

They can double down after splitting a pair as well as double down on any number of cards.

And for pairs of Aces, resplitting of Aces is allowed and players can double down after splitting Aces as well.

Spanish 21 also has a number of different payouts:

-five card 21 pays 3-2
-six card 21 pays 2-1
-seven card 21 pays 3-1
-a 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 made of mixed suits pays 3-2
-a 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 of the same suit pay 2-1
-a 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 of spades pays 3-1
-a 7-7-7 of the same suit with the dealer holding a 7 up pays $1,000 for wagers between $5 and $24
-a 7-7-7 of the same suit with the dealer holding a 7 up pays $5,000 for wagers of $25 or more

Between the various payouts and plethora of other player-friendly rules, the balance between the house and the player is remarkably close—close enough that it is the one blackjack variation that is closest to standard blackjack. This is the one blackjack variation to play…especially since it does not have side bets.

Even Money Payouts in Blackjack

It does not matter if you play blackjack online or in a brick and mortar casino, you will come face to face with blackjack variations in either one. Variations are presented as a fun alternative to standard blackjack: Why play boring old blackjack when you could play something like Perfect Pairs or Super Fun 21?

Variations such as Perfect Pairs and Super Fun 21 have special rules and side bets worked into them. Perfect Pairs for example features a side bet for wagering on whether your first two cards will be a pair or not.

Along with additional features, better known as money sucking side bets, blackjack variations will also have some differences in their basic house rules. Super Fun 21 will allow players to double down on any number of cards, not the first two like in a standard game of blackjack. Such changes in rules are there to increase the player’s blackjack odds and to make them feel more enticed and secure about playing the variation.

But you do not want to get lulled in by that false sense of security. What online casino or brick and mortar casino will actually allow players to get the edge? None.

Not all of the rule variations in these variations of online blackjack and casino blackjack are good for a player. One of the most common differences to be found in blackjack variations are changes in the payout for a natural blackjack.

Many blackjack variations will only pay a 1-1, or even money, payout for a natural blackjack instead of the 3-2 payout. So if you were wagering $10 on a round, not including a side bet, and were dealt a natural blackjack, you would be paid $15. But in a blackjack variation you would only be paid $10.

Ultimately it comes down to odds. An even money payout for a natural blackjack lowers your blackjack odds by 2.27%. That is an incredibly big hit. But then you are losing out on the biggest opportunity to make money from blackjack, hence the really big hit to your odds. Your best bet is to stay away from blackjack variations be they in online blackjack or in a brick and mortar casino.

Will Zynga Make a Mobile Blackjack Game?

Online blackjack players might find their favorite online casino game on their Facebook sooner than they think.

Zynga recently bought out the iPhone and iPad app creator Bonfire. The reason for the speculation over a possible Zynga Blackjack is because Bonfire created the We Farm mobile app, which is one of the top ten grossing iPad and iPhone games. And We Farm is very similar to Zynga’s extremely well-known Farmville Facebook game.

But Farmville is not Zynga’s only Facebook game to fame. They are also behind another Facebook game called Zynga Poker. Poker and blackjack are two of the most popular online casino games in the online casino industry. Because of that popularity, it would not be a far cry to see Zynga create a Zynga Blackjack game.

But with the recent buyout of Bonfire, who used to work with Microgaming on PC and Xbox 360 games such as Halo Wars and Age of Empires, Zynga may be on the move to increase their online gaming world both with a move further into the mobile app arena as well as moving further into online casino games.

And Zynga is no stranger to the mobile app arena, although it is only a small contender as of yet with its Zynga Live Poker mobile app. With the technology and graphics capabilities of a developer who has worked with the likes of Microgaming, who knows what apps Zynga will produce for the iPhone and iPad—their ever popular Facebook games could all go mobile.

However, I think that Zynga would profit more from moving further into the realm of online gambling by creating more Zynga Live apps for other casino games, such as online blackjack.

Payouts in Super Fun 21

Super Fun 21 is a blackjack game that is a variation of the original game form. There are a few different house rules—some good and some bad. But of all the variations, which I still do not recommend playing, Super Fun 21 is the one with the lowest house edge of all the different blackjack games.

First let’s take a look at the house rules that have changed a bit.

First off all player blackjack wins. There is no topping a player blackjack, not even for the dealer. Even if the dealer also has a natural blackjack, he will still lose to the player—not a push, but a full win.

However, to counter this nice happy house rule, blackjack will only pay even money, or a 1-1 payout. The only blackjack that pays differently is if both the Ace and the 10 value card are diamonds. Then the payout is 2-1.

You might be thinking that settling for even money payouts and the occasional 2-1 payout is a fair trade for having a blackjack that wins no matter what.

You would be thinking wrong, and you would be settling.

Of all of the blackjack that can happen in a game, only one in every sixteen blackjack will be made up of two cards that are both diamonds. That translates into 93.75% of those blackjacks not having diamonds, and a 93.75% chance that you will only be receiving even money for your blackjack.

Over time the amount of money lost in even money and the occasionally 2-1 payouts will add up. Let’s say that you have played enough $10 rounds to have 100 blackjacks. In a regular game of blackjack those $100 blackjack would have given you $1,500.

But according to Super Fun 21 rules, and rounding the 93.75% to 94% to simplify math, you would be making $940 in even money payouts and $120 in the Super Fun 21 diamond blackjack payouts; that brings you to a grand total of $1,060. That is a $440 difference that you lost from playing Super Fun 21. Imagine what you would lose if you were wagering more than $10 per round.

So despite that with a specialized basic strategy played perfectly that can reduce the house edge to 0.8%, the money lost is still just too much for this blackjack variation.