Basic Rules and How to Play
Zappit Blackjack is a unique form of traditional Twenty-One game that allows you to exchange your current hand and take your chances with a new pair of cards. The idea was originally introduced by Geoff Hall, avid Blackjack player and card counter, who patented the new Blackjack Switch structure in 2009 and made it even more appealing to the casino operators by adding the “Push 22” rule. Zappit Blackjack is one of the most popular variants of the concept, enabling the players to “Zap” the unwanted hand of a certain total and get two new cards from the shoe.
Despite providing you with more room to strategize, Zappit does not stray too far from its traditional structure. The objective of the game is to beat the dealer’s hand with a total of 21 or less, and hopefully end the session with some extra cash in your pockets.
After the players place their bets, the dealer will start dealing the cards from a 6-deck shoe. Both the player and the house (represented by the dealer) will get two cards each. The hand that’s closer to 21 wins and the bets are settled according to the standardized payout table.
Zappit Blackjack follows the same pattern – after receiving the first two cards, the dealer will have to hit on the soft 17 total while the players will have the following options:
- Stand – challenge the dealer with your hand as it is. At this point, you can only see one of the dealer’s cards, so the total of your current hand will be imperative to your next move
- Hit – if the total is low, you are allowed to request an extra card, which should take you closer to a total of 21
- Double Down – increase your bet and draw an extra card. No additional cards can be requested if you use this option
- Surrender – give up and lose 50% of your bet after the dealer checks for Blackjack
- Take Insurance Bet – wager on the Dealer’s Blackjack (if their up card is an Ace)
- Split – split two cards with the same denomination and play them as two separate hands
Up to 3 hands can be split and only one extra card per each split Ace can be drawn. Zappit Blackjack does not allow re-splitting the Aces and if you happen to draw a 10 on the split Ace, the combination will not be considered a natural Blackjack.
The most important rule of Zappit is, of course, exchanging your initial hand with the next two cards from the shoe. This option cannot be used on any hand value, and the player will only be able to take advantage of the “Zappit” feature on a total of 15, 16, or 17.
Standard vs Zappit Blackjack
Obviously, the main difference between the traditional and Zappit Blackjack is this particular precedent. Exchanging your hand is not allowed in the regular version of the game under any circumstances and the players will have to make do with what they have.
Another important difference that is likely to unnerve a lot of players, is the 22 Push rule. In the standard Blackjack game, the player wins if the house busts or recovers the bet when both hands (the dealer’s and the players) have the same total. The same rule does not apply to Zappit, and if the dealer busts with a total of 22, it will be considered a push.
Odds, Payouts, and House Edge
As mentioned, Zappit Blackjack bets are settled according to the standard payout table, unless the player lands a Blackjack after “zapping”. This will automatically reduce the Blackjack payout rate from 3:2 to even pay (1:1).
- Blackjack – 3:2
- Blackjack after “zapping” – 1:1
- Insurance Bet – 2:1
- Other – 1:1
The house edge is between 1.15% and 1.24%, depending on the provider; the SG Gaming (Shuffle Master) variant offers the lower house edge of 1.15%.
Strategy & Tips
Using Blackjack strategy can reduce (or even completely eliminate) the house edge, which is why most players almost always take the dealer’s hand into consideration before deciding on their next move.
According to the basic Zappit Blackjack strategy rules, the players should always:
- Hit on 5 – 8
- Hit on soft 13, 14, 15
- Split the 4s
- Stand on 18 and up
- Split the Aces
- Keep the 10s and stand
Zapping can be tricky, especially if you have a hard 17 – according to most strategies, this is where you should stand since there is a good chance that your bet will win. However, some players would recommend to “zap” your cards and apply the traditional strategy on the follow-up hand.
Also, depending on the Zappit variant, the player may be able to use the “zap” privilege against the dealer’s Blackjack hand. Under the circumstances, the decision is pretty much made for you…
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