The Basic Rules of Switch
The basic rules for playing the card game 'Switch' are below, with details of variations below.
What You Will Need
- Two or more players
- A standard pack of 52 playing cards (or two packs for more than 4 players)
Games That Are Similar to 'Switch'
There are a number of different variants of 'Switch'. Most of these are played with a standard set of cards:
- Two Four Jacks
- Mau Mau
Some of these are played with custom cards including:
- Uno—the premises of Uno are very similar.
Dealing the Cards
- To start a game deal each player 7 cards.
- Any remaining cards should be placed in the middle as a stack.
How to Play
- You must put down a card that either matches the suit or rank of the card on the last card played.
- For example, if the last card played was the 5 of hearts, you can play any card in the hearts suit, or any card with the number 5.
- If you can't play a card, you must pick up a card from the centre pile.
There are several variations of Switch. The important thing is to make sure all players are clear on what version they are playing before the game starts (so you don't have arguments in the middle of the card game).
Switch: Special or 'Trick' Cards
- Aces: If a player plays an Ace they can nominate a new suit that the person next to them has to play (unless they have another Ace in their hand)
- Pick up 2: If the player before you plays a 2, you must either play a 2, or pick up 2 more cards
- 8 skips a go: If a player plays an 8 it skips the turn of the next person
- Jack back: If someone plays a jack it reverses the order of the game
- Last card rule: If you only have one card left in your hand you must declare 'last card' so that everyone can hear you. If you forget to declare last card, and the next player has taken their turn, you have to pick up 7 cards on your next go.
Variations on the Rules
The rules below are some other common ones which you can agree to use if you want to mix things up a little:
- Pick up 4: If the player before you plays a 4, you must either play a 4 or pick up 4 more cards.
- 8 or wait: If a player plays an 8 the next person to them must play an 8 or skip a turn.
Blackjack Switch Variation
- Black Jack: If a player plays a black jack the next player needs to play a black jack or pick up the same amount of cards as were initially dealt (usually 7). If the next player does play a black jack the next again player must pick up double the hand that was initially dealt (usually 14 cards)
- Red Jack: The red jack cancels out the black jack
The Other "Blackjack" Card Game
Switch is sometimes known as Blackjack, but it is not to be confused with the card game 'Twenty-one' which is also known as Blackjack. This is more of a gambling/casino game where the aim is to get cards that add up to 'twenty-one'.
Switch With Sequences
Use the same rules as above, but you can play 'runs' or numerical sequences of cards of the same suit. For example, if you had a 3 of hearts, 4 of hearts and 5 of hearts, you could play them all in one go.
More Rules and Variations
There are many more variations of Switch. If I have missed out a good one please let me know by commenting.
Questions & Answers
Question: What if you are holding two aces in Switch?
Answer: You can play both aces together, although if you want you can play them separately (sometimes this works better tactically).
Question: Not mentioned above, but the King can reverses the order of play. If two players are paying is this reversal mute as the other person's turn would be anytime?
Answer: I've never played a version where the King does that, but there are loads of different versions. I've played where the Jack reverses the order of play though. If there are only 2 players it would mean that the player who plays the Jack (or King in your version) plays again.
Question: Is there a number of cards picking up from a number of jacks or twos played (pick up cards) that will cause you to be eliminated instantly while playing Switch?
Answer: No, there is no amount of cards that eliminates you. If you have a lot of cards in your hand you can still sometimes make a comeback, especially if you are strategic.
Question: When playing the card game Switch, what if you have a 7 of hearts and the rest of your cards are hearts? Would you not call 'last cards' at that moment?
Answer: If you have a hand with several cards you can play at once to win the game, you should call 'last card' before you put the last card down. I would do this by playing each card one by one and triumphantly saying 'last card' as I got to the final one!
Question: Whose turn is it after a red jack is played in Switch?
Answer: If you are playing with the variation where a red jack cancels out a black jack, after the red jack play would move on to the next player whose turn it is.
Question: Must each player follow suit If they can in Switch?
Answer: Players must either follow suit, or play a card of the same value. For example if the previous card is a 7 of Hearts the next player must either play Hearts or 7s.
Question: Do you have to say "last card" before you put the last card down?
Answer: Yes, if you are playing with the 'last card' rule. I recommend playing with this rule. If you forget to say last card you need to pick up a card instead of playing one.
Question: Can you finish the game of Switch on an eight?
Answer: No, you can't finish the game on a 'special card' so if you are playing the version where 8 skips go, you can't have the 8 as your last card.
Although if you are playing with small children, I might allow finishing the game on any card, just to make it a bit easier.
Andrew Wood on May 16, 2018:
We used to play pick up 5 cards for a black king, red king cancels it
Also if you play a 7 you could play all the cards of that suit
Lair on November 21, 2017:
I always played ....
A - change suit .. 2 -Pickup 2 .. 8 - miss a turn... BJack - pick up 7 ...Rjack- cancel 1 Jack.... King ...change direction in a game involving more than 2 players....
You can do multi runs as long as they begin on the stack cards suit or number so for instance if it was on 2 spades ...you could play ( 2-h 3-h 3-c 2-c a-c a-s 2-d 3-d 4-d 5-d ) etc
A player must call last card or cards if they can finish next turn ....you can't finish on a power card but you can on a run so the ideal last cards would be say (5s...5c...5d...5h) this way you can finish on any suit....
We play for money ....every time you draw a card you pay a coin for it ....so if you have to pick up 7 you pay 7 coins ...
Once you run out of coins you can't draw any more cards and are out...
Very amazing tactical game ...personally I think it puts poker to shame...am surprised it's not more well known
Hilary Carr on March 26, 2017:
I used to play a version which worked more like Beggar My neighbour, the idea being to get ALL the cards, but for a black jack you put 5 cards, for a 2, 2 cards, but that was cumulative (so you could end up putting 8 cards if all the 2s came close together)... the redjack simply reversed the direction of play when playing with 3 or more players
dick b on October 18, 2015:
we play using the black queen rule. play a black queen in normal play gives you the chance to swap hands with any other player. if the other player has the other black queen they may play it and stop the swap