Good Blackjack Variations vs. Bad Blackjack Variations

I hear now and again that some players want to know what a good blackjack variation is and what are bad ones. There are some rules of thumb in helping players discern which variations are bad and which ones are not.

The primary indicator of a good blackjack variation is one that does not use side bets as the center point of the game. Yes, I know, that knocks the majority of blackjack variations out of consideration.

But think about it a moment—we know that insurance is a bad idea since it causes the player to lose more money over time than if the player had not taken insurance. And we also know that insurance is a cleverly named and present side bet on whether the dealer’s hole card is worth 10 or not. So if that side bet is a bad idea, then why are all of the rest okay?

Because they are not okay. Side bets are never okay. Remember that.

So a good blackjack variation does not have side bets, which means that bad variations do have side bets. We will compare two blackjack variations so that you can see.

Blackjack Switch is played with two pairs per play in which the players can switch their second cards in order to increase the strength of their hands.

Perfect Pairs Blackjack is played with a normal hand but has players placing a wager on whether or not their first two cards will be a pair or not.

Based on the simple method of determining a good blackjack variation above, it is easy to see that Blackjack Switch is the variation of choice between the two. Players have no control on whether they will be dealt a pair or not. Whereas in Switch players still have an impact on the outcome of the round after taking into consideration the hook that makes Switch what it is.

So what have we learned? We have learned that side bets are bad and that whether or not a blackjack variation has one is how we should determine if a blackjack variation is good or bad.

To Switch or Not to Switch

The game of Blackjack Switch sounds quite easy to play on the surface. Especially since it allows you the option of switching your second cards. Because this blackjack variation gives you that option it seems like playing Switch would be a pretty easy thing to do.

Not always.

How do you know if your original hands are better or if the switched hands are better? There is no basic strategy for Blackjack Switch, just your own brain and logic.

Take a look at this example to get what I mean:

We are going to say that the dealer has a 7 showing. When the beginning dealing is down you have an Ace/7 on one hand and a 10/9 on the other. You have a soft 18 and a hard 19.

If you were to switch them, you would strengthen one hand to soft 20 (Ace/9) and weaken the other to a hard 17 (10/7)?

This sort of situation is what makes Blackjack Switch not as easy as it seems.

So which is better: to have two reasonably strong hands, or one really strong and one that is one the weak side?

For your answer look at how I summed up the situation in the last sentence.

Still do not see it? Here it is:

When facing a dealer who is holding a fairly strong card and you have the option of two reasonably strong hands versus one really strong and one fairly weak, it is best to go with the two reasonably strong hands.

If you were to switch to the soft 20 and hard 17, you run the risk of winning one hand and losing with the other. That sort of winning will only cause you to break even and you will not walk away from the round any better off than when you started. True, it is better than losing both hands, but what if you could win both hands and make a profit?

Which is exactly what you can do by having two reasonably strong hands. While they are not guaranteed to win, they still put you in a better position to win both hands, which is your goal when playing Blackjack Switch.

This is why Blackjack Switch requires some brain work and logic when choosing to switch the second cards or not. This is not a blackjack game in which you just have the cards switched just for the sake of switching them.

Blackjack Games: Blackjack Switch

Oh goody! It is time for more talk about blackjack games and blackjack variations. This morning I have chosen Blackjack Switch as my variation to compare to good ol’ blackjack.

This blackjack variation can be found scattered throughout brick and mortar casinos, and it is beginning to show its face in some online casinos.

Switch works a little bit differently from other blackjack games. For one thing you are not playing one hand per round, you are playing two. There is no way out of this. If you want to play Switch then you have to play with two hands per round.

The reason players have two hands to play is because they can switch the top two cards.

In fact that is the first playing decision a player makes—to switch or not to switch. When it is time to play out his hand he can switch the top two cards of his hands. This has the benefit of giving players the opportunity to improve their hands.

Let’s say that you are playing Switch and you are dealt a 4/10 on one hand and a 10/6 on the second. When your turn to play comes you can switch the 10 from the first hand with the 6 from the second because they are the top two cards. Once the switch is made you then have a 4/6 and a 10/10, both of which are good hands as you can double down on the 4/6, and the 10/10 is a strong hand to stand on.

While that example is the ideal for what you want to happen in a round of Switch, it does not always happen that way. Sometimes switching the top two cards only improves one hand. Or maybe you only switch them for a shot at minimizing your losses.

But while switching your top two cards seems like an advantage—and it is—there are, like in any blackjack variation, some major down sides.

The most obvious is that if you are playing with two hands per round, you are wagering twice as much per round. On top of the extra wagering, blackjacks on pay even money in this game, which is a 2.27% hit to your blackjack odds.

And for extra fun the dealer does not bust at 22 like he would in any other blackjack game. Instead it becomes a push. So you are not losing money, but you certainly are not winning anything extra.

So once again we have another blackjack game—yet another variation—that on the surface seems like it could be advantageous but really is not. Like with Face Up 21, Switch should be played for very low stakes or just for fun if you are playing online.

New Blackjack Variation: Switch

All right, blackjack players, we have another blackjack variation on our hands. Or on our tables actually. So far this one seems to be limited to brick and mortar casinos, and has not made the jump to online blackjack…yet.

This new blackjack variation is called Blackjack Switch. And it sounds pretty much like it is.

In this variation players must lay down to bets of equal amounts. They then are dealt two hands of two cards each. The dealer then deals cards to himself and then checks to see if he has a natural blackjack. Once he has checked and he does not have one, then players are allowed to play out their hands.

Playing out your hands in Blackjack Switch is not quite ordinary. You first playing decision to make is whether or not to switch your cards. In this variation players can swap the second cards of each hand with each other.

This gives players a little relief in that if one of your hands is a hard hand, you could switch the second cards and possibly relieve yourself from having a stiff hand.

But what players need to keep in mind is that sometimes switching is not always needed. It takes careful thought on whether to make the swap or not.

Once a player decides whether to switch their second cards with each other, he then plays out his hands like any ordinary hands. You can still use basic strategy here. But there is not strategy for when to switch your cards and when not to. That is a judgment call on your part.

While I do not like variations as a rule, this one does not have side bets, which are usually the worst aspect of blackjack variations. But like any blackjack variations, there are downsides to this game.

For one thing you will run through your bankroll faster because you are playing two hands at once. And because there is no real strategy advantage to playing two hands at once, you are actually decreasing your blackjack odds because you are giving the house more opportunities to take your money.

On top of that, if you are dealt a natural blackjack you are only going to be paid even money. Sot that is another hit against your blackjack odds. You have already handed them the advantage by opening yourself up to losing money by playing more than one hand at a time. But now you have given up your 3-2 payout as well, which normally fives a nice boost to players.

Since this one does not have side bets, I would say to play it for a couple of rounds just to give it a try. But if you are wanting to make any money off of blackjack then you will want to stick to regular blackjack.