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Blackjack Switch - Part 1 of our interview with Geoff Hall
You were involved in the development of a new Blackjack variant a couple of years ago, a game called Blackjack Switch.
A: In ‘Blackjack Switch’ the main difference is that the players play 2 hands of Blackjack but get the option of switching their 2nd cards of each hand around. For example, you are dealt a King & 4 on your first hand and a 6 & 9 on your second hand, giving you 2 hands of 14 and 15. You now have the option of switching the 4 & 9 around to give you 2 new hands of King, 9 and 6, 4.
This is a powerful option for the player so the casino will pay all ‘Blackjacks’ at even money (as more are created by switching) and use a ‘Push 22’ rule which means that all players’ hands left on the table are pushed if the dealer gets exactly 22. All other regular Blackjack rules i.e. doubling, splitting etc remain the same. The ‘switching’ allows the players to have more control over their hands as well as creating an interesting twist to the regular game.
A: Yes, this is the correct house edge for the online version. Playtech do not have to concern themselves with card counters, or any other form of advantage play, as the cards are shuffled after every round. Furthermore, there are numerous players who will not play the correct strategy, particularly with the ‘switch’ aspect, and this will increase the overall edge.
For land-based casinos the house edge is around 0.2% which is still
extremely low for a multi-deck Blackjack game. However, as with the
online play, the majority of players will not adhere to correct strategy
and the proportion of difficult switch decisions make it difficult for
anybody to play perfectly. Nevertheless, the very good players will
benefit overall from a lower house edge with ‘Blackjack Switch’
compared with regular Blackjack.
A: I signed an exclusivity deal with Playtech although
if BOTH parties agree then ‘Blackjack Switch’ can be licensed
to other online casinos. However, although I have received several requests
for a license, only one other casino, outside Playtech, are licensed
with the game. The casino is www.russiancasino.ru and they are operated
by a company called Ensis
Technologies. I would love to see the game being operated on other
sites but will adhere to the agreement signed with Playtech and hope
that we will involve more operators in the future.
A: Karel is highly regarded in the field of Blackjack
simulators and has a very successful commercial program available called
‘SBA’ – Statistical Blackjack Analyzer ( www.sba21.com
). Karel reprogrammed his SBA so that ‘Switches’ were
included along with the ‘Push 22’ rule. The ‘SBA Switch’
program is not commercially available yet although it is something that
we are considering in the future. The results from ‘SBA Switch’
have been confirmed by GLI Inc and Nevada Gaming Laboratories.
A: Presently ‘Blackjack Switch’ is available in 3 casinos in Las Vegas – ‘The 4 Queens’ and ‘Fitzgerald’s’ in Downtown, Las Vegas and ‘Casino Royale’ on the ‘Strip’. The G2E exhibition is imminent and I will be exhibiting the game and expect some promising feedback. Already ‘Casino Royale’ have stated that they will install a 2nd table after just 3 days of having the first, This is especially promising as they do not have much floor space to commit to new games.
I will also be demonstrating the ‘Blackjack Switch’ video/slot machine which has been manufactured by a company called ‘JPM’, in England. I expect (and hope) to see ‘Blackjack Switch’ expand into the Nevada market as well as make it’s way into other states in America within the next 6-9 months. Players’ feedback, during the installations into Las Vegas, have been extremely encouraging with zero negative comments directed towards the game.
This interview continues with Part 2 - Playtech Poker.
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