Exchange Blackjack is a variation created and played at Betfair.com. It gives players a different way of playing blackjack, as it introduces new rules and gameplay. Players bet against each other, unlike regular real money blackjack, to see whether any hand will win or not. It is like dealing with the stock market using blackjack. It is an interesting variant, although not as popular as others.
Our guide will help you learn the different rules and how to play Exchange blackjack. Knowing where to play is crucial, and the fact that it was created by Betfair, it can only be found there. For those players that do play can take a look at the basic strategy section to get better odds of winning. Look at the brief history of the creation of Exchange Blackjack at the end.
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Rules and How to Play
Aside from the unique system of betting on the result of hands, rather than playing them yourself, Exchange Blackjack follows the same gameplay structure as traditional twenty-one.
With that said, if you’re still learning the ropes of regular blackjack, head over to our main page for the classic game to brush up on the basics. Once you’re accustomed to the ins and outs of blackjack, return here to see how Exchange Blackjack stacks up.
Different Gameplay from Regular Blackjack
It can be difficult to get your head around this revolutionary gameplay format, so just imagine logging on to your favorite online casino and clicking on a traditional blackjack table. This table happens to be fully occupied at the moment, so you stick around and sweat the action while waiting for a seat. As you watch the players at the table make their decisions, hitting or standing, splitting or doubling down, it occurs to you that it might be fun to bet on the result of each hand.
Exchange Blackjack allows you to do just that. By pitting four “players” against a “dealer,” all of whom are pre-programmed to play their cards according to perfect strategy, the game gives you a chance to assess each player’s hand in relation to the dealer’s, before betting on which hand will wind up winning.
Exchange Blackjack represents a stark departure from the typical casino gambling experience, especially for American players, so this page was written to help bridge that gap in understanding. We’ll begin with a thorough review of the game’s rules and structure, including the available wagers, the unique dynamic odds system, and other features which are unique to this variant. From there, we’ll guide you through the process of finding Exchange Blackjack online, before concluding with an introduction to proper strategy.
Before diving into the details of the specialized exchange betting scheme, we’ll run through the common blackjack rules which govern the game. Along with each rule description, we’ll also cover the ways in which each rule affects your overall gameplay experience:
An “Infinite Shoe” is Used
As an online casino game, Exchange Blackjack relies on a random number generator to “deal” each card. A standard 52 card deck is used, with each card holding its normal value (2 to 10 at numerical rank, J / Q / K at 10, aces at either 1 or 11). The software designed by Betfair utilizes an infinite number of decks, similar in philosophy to a brick and mortar casino’s eight deck shoe, but expanded exponentially to make “dealing” more efficient.
The Highest Possible Hand for Players and Dealer is Not Blackjack
This rule represents a major departure from traditional twenty-one, as the best possible hand is no longer an ace plus a 10 value card, or blackjack. Instead, in Exchange Blackjack, the best possible hand made by players or the dealer is known as the “five card Charlie,” or any five card combination which totals 21 or less. When it comes to five card Charlies, all five card combinations hold equal value, so a 2 3 4 5 5 for a 19 total is worth the same as a 3 4 4 5 5 for a 21 total.
Blackjacks are Ranked as the Second Highest Hand
Leaving five card Charlies aside, the next highest hand in the game is the normal blackjack. Any combination of an ace and a 10 value card is good for a blackjack, and this hand will beat all other hands (even 21 totals), except for five card Charlies. A blackjack will beat any other 21 total while 21 totals outrank 20 totals, and so on down the line.
All Wins Pay Even Money
As the actual player, your wagers will be paid out according to the true odds attached to each wager. For the pre-programmed “players,” all winning hands receive an even money payout. This only matters as part of the score-keeping process between the virtual “players” and the virtual “dealer,” as your payouts will always be based on the dynamic odds system.
For each of the virtual parties present at the Exchange Blackjack table – the four “players” and the “dealer” – their decision making will follow a pre-programmed system which is based on optimal blackjack strategy. No matter what cards a “player” holds, they will always make the correct decision regarding whether or not to hit or stand.
Player & Dealer Actions
A few provisions have been included in this “perfect strategy,” however, most likely to streamline the gameplay experience and create a faster pace for actual players. These guidelines for “player” and “dealer” actions break down as follows:
No Doubling Down or Splitting is Allowed
In an interesting twist on the old dynamic, Exchange Blackjack prohibits the four virtual “players” from doubling down on favorable totals or splitting paired hands. This rule was likely instituted to make the “player” decisions as quick as possible, while avoiding drawn out hands.
The “Dealer” Receives Only One Up Card to Begin
One aspect of “European” style blackjack that has made its way into Exchange Blackjack, this rule requires the virtual “dealer” to take only a single up card to begin each hand. The “dealer” must then wait until all “player” actions have been completed before taking the second card and making subsequent decisions.
The “Dealer” Must Stand on Soft 17’s
As part of the perfect strategy ascribed to the “dealer,” they will always stand when holding an ace and a 6 (also known as a soft 17). This arrangement follows the “American” blackjack style, and by standing on soft 17s, the virtual “players” will benefit slightly in terms of their overall expectation.
The “Dealer” Must Stand on All Five Card Totals
A natural extension of the five card Charlie rule, this ensures that the virtual “dealer” will never hit and break up a pat five card Charlie.
In addition to the basic wagering on each “player” hand, you can also elect to place any of the “exotic” wagers found in Exchange Blackjack. These exotic wagers are described in detail below:
The “Dealer” Wins or Ties with All Four Player Hands
In this bet, you’re essentially backing the virtual “dealer” against the four “player” hands. One of the rare instances in which you can bet on the house, Exchange Blackjack lets you take the “dealer’s” side – but if you do, the “dealer” hand must beat or tie all four of the “player” hands.
One or More of the Five Hands Receives a Five Card Charlie
This exotic bet turns a winner whenever any of the five virtual hands results in a five card Charlie.
All Cards on Board Will Be Unique, Both in Terms of Suit and Value
By taking this exotic wager, you’ll be hoping that each and every one of the cards revealed during the next hand are entirely unique. Thus, any repeated cards, such as the 4 of diamonds appearing twice, results in a loss.
Only One Hand on the Table Lands an Exact Value of 21 Points
Another peculiar prop bet, in this exotic wager, you’ll be hoping that one, and only one, of the five hands on board, lands an exact total of 21.
Obviously, these exotic wagers represent longshots, so the odds attached to each bet will be much higher than those found on the basic “player” bets. For example, taking the “one or more hands will produce a five card Charlie bet,” you’ll typically receive 30 to 1 odds on your money.
During a game of Exchange Blackjack, the odds are continually adjusted to reflect current game conditions. Thus, if a repeat card hits the board, the exotic wager on repeats will instantly be removed.
Playing Exchange Blackjack
Now that we’ve covered how the virtual “players” and “dealer” will manage their game, let’s move on to the bread and butter of Exchange Blackjack: the exchange betting system.
You’ll be watching a basic online blackjack table on your screen, with the four “player” spots and the “dealer” spot appearing in their usual positions. Each game consists of seven rounds or hands.
Your job is to place wagers on the result of each round, either beforehand or as they happen. Of course, you can bet on one or more of the four “player” hands, and odds for each hand will be constantly updated to reflect the current game conditions.
Should Player 1 receive a strong 20 total, while the dealer holds a lowly 3 up card, the obvious play would be to “back” Player 1 against the dealer. Betfair’s dynamic odds system will calculate the true odds that Player 1 will win, given the available information revealed by the cards, and you can then wager on Player 1’s hand to win. Under this example, however, you wouldn’t be getting very good odds, simply because it’s a near lock that Player 1 will wind up winning.
You could always take the long-shot instead, and “lay” Player 1, or bet against them winning the hand. In this case, with a 20 total versus a 3 up card, laying odds on Player 1 would result in a low risk, high reward scenario.
Depending on the exact cards held by each “player,” the up card held by the “dealer,” and the influx of actual wagers being made on each side, Betfair will produce accurate true odds that reflect each hand’s current variables. If several wagers come in to back Player 1 under the above example, the odds on Player 1 winning will go down accordingly.
Best Places to Play Exchange Blackjack
As a proprietary product owned by global betting exchange company Betfair, the game of Exchange Blackjack is only available through the Betfair online casino platform.
To explore the world of Exchange Blackjack for yourself, head here to Betfair’s dedicated game page, where you can watch the action as it unfolds before placing your first wagers.
Exchange Blackjack Strategy
The house edge attached to Exchange Blackjack stands at 3.90 percent – which is significantly higher than that offered by most blackjack variants, and especially traditional blackjack.
Unless you have a particular desire to play this unique take on twenty-one, the best strategy for preserving your bankroll is to simply avoid Exchange Blackjack in favor of the regular version. Ordinary blackjack offers a house edge of just 1.50 percent, and that’s when you’re playing according to gut instinct alone. Employ optimal strategy, and your house edge shrinks to under 0.50 percent.
Based on these numbers alone, the best strategy when it comes to Exchange Blackjack is discipline, as high volatility gambles like this can produce big wins and even bigger losses.
Expected Value Charts
If you’re interested in playing Exchange Blackjack as correctly as possible, take a look at these comprehensive Expected Value charts. Calculated and created by acclaimed casino game theorist Michael Shackleford, the man behind the curtain at the Wizard of Odds site, these charts provide a handy guide to betting on the four “player” hands.
Simply scan the chart to find the “player” hand’s current total, and compare it to the “dealer” up card. When you see a positive decimal number in the corresponding box, betting on that “player” hand represents a positive expectation play. Stay away from the negative decimals and stick to the highest possible positive figures, and you’ll always be putting yourself on the right side of variance given the available data.
Exchange Blackjack History
In an innovative new addition to the blackjack landscape, the game known as Exchange Blackjack was developed by U.K. based company Betfair – which bills itself as the world’s largest global betting exchange.
The concept of betting exchanges may be a bit unfamiliar to American gamblers, but in the U.K. and across Europe, Betfair has worked since 2000 to bring the creative wagering format to the industry’s forefront.
Essentially, a betting exchange operates much like a stock market, with bettors placing their wagers against one another rather than the sportsbook. During any sports contest or event, true odds are posted for the result, along with a variety of team and player specific proposition bets, and a whole host of additional wagers. The exchange concept is based on bettors taking either side of a particular wager, with the odds fluctuating in real time to reflect the current market conditions.
Becoming Popular Internationally
Betting exchanges have proven to be quite popular with European punters, as the system allows for more fluid in-game wagering, the ability to “hedge” bets in real time, and the option to immediately “cash out” wagers in which you’re currently winning for an equitable portion of the overall purse.
In a bold move over a decade ago, Betfair decided to adopt the betting exchange concept to its expanding lineup of online casino game offerings. The result is a new wave of Exchange based table games, such as Exchange Baccarat, Exchange Hold’em, and of course, Exchange Blackjack.
The concept seems simple enough on its surface: rather than playing blackjack hands for yourself and wagering on the results of your own play, Exchange Blackjack enables you to wager on four automated blackjack players, on the dealer, or on several prop bets.