Switch (card game)

Last updated
08 of spades.svg
An eight of spades.
Origin England
Skills required Tactics, Communication
Deck French
PlayClockwise and Counter-clockwise
Card rank (highest first)A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
Playing timeVarious
Random chanceMedium
Related games
Irish Switch

Switch, also called Two Four Jacks or Irish Switch, [1] or Last Card, in New Zealand, is a shedding-type card game for two or more players that is popular in the United Kingdom, Ireland and as alternative incarnations in other regions. The sole aim of Switch is to discard all of the cards in one's hand; the first player to play his or her final card, and ergo have no cards left, wins the game. Switch is very similar to the games UNO, Flaps and Mau Mau, both belonging to the larger Crazy Eights or Shedding family of card games. [2]


The game is also commonly known as Jack Changes, Crazy Eights, Take Two, Black Jack and Peanuckle in the UK and Ireland.

If a user ends on a so-called "fire card", a user is able to pick up, and put down another "fire card" immediately unless stated beforehand. An Ace can be used as any card.


Switch is played with a regular, single deck of playing cards, or with two standard decks (shuffled into one) if there is a large number of players.

Each player at their turn may play any card from their hand that matches the suit or the rank of the card previously played; for example, if the previous card was a seven of clubs, the next player may put down any seven card, or any club card, from their hand. Should the player not have any card available to play, they must pick up one card.

Game rules

Players are initially dealt a similar sized hand of cards (often seven per person), but the exact number may vary depending on how many players are present. The remainder of the deck is placed face down and serve as a "pool" or drawing stack. At the beginning of the game the topmost card from the "pool” is revealed and, so long as this card is not a trick card, play begins. (Switch may not start with a trick card, and so if the "starting card" is a trick card, cards shall continue to be selected from the pool until a non-trick card is revealed.)

The first to play (generally, the player on the dealer's left) should select from his or her hand a card that matches either, the suit or the rank of the open card (the card that is "top"); for example, on a 9 of spades, only a spade card or a 9 may be played. If a player is not able to place a card, he draws cards from the stack until he is able to play a card. A player may choose to withhold a card due to personal strategy but will incur the penalty of having to pick a card from the deck.

If the drawing stack is run down and becomes empty, the playing stack or discard pile (except for the topmost card) is shuffled, and placed face down to become the new "pool."

If the last player, at the point of when the second last player has said "Last Card", and has ended the game, the last standing player, or the lost player, can bring the player back into the game, provided the player has all logical moves remaining in hand. If the player does have all logical moves, the second last player is brought back into the game, as a form of resurrection, to re-compete. Should the last player not have all logical moves, that player loses the game.

Power Cards

In Switch some cards are known as "power" or "trick" cards, because their being played directly affects the gameplay:

When a player has only one remaining card they must remember to say "last card" aloud before their turn has ended, to inform the other players that they are about to win. If a player should fail to do so before the next player has started their turn they may be penalised, often to the cost of picking up one card immediately (over and above any picking up as a matter of routine course in the game).


As soon as a player plays their last card they win the game. If the last card is a power card they must draw another card as a game can not end with a power card. The game can continue until all the players get rid of their cards. If a player doesn't say "last card" he will pick up two card from main bank

Last Card rule

In some games, the "Last Card Rule" can be applied, whereby if a player is down to one card they must say "Knocking" before their turn ends. If they do not, they must pick up another card (or 5 if playing Turbo Switch). Although not an official rule, it is a rule widely accepted across Ireland and the UK. A player can also not end on a double of one card.

In the variant known as Peaknuckle, players with two cards remaining in their hand must say "peaknuckle" and a player with only one card must say "super-peaknuckle". Failing to say either will result in the player picking up another card, if noticed by another player.

Also in Peanuckle the 7 card means a player can play a run of cards that link, ie: 7, 8, 9, K, J and 3 A player can also use an ace to change suit in these runs as well as being able to change suit using cards of the same value from another suit.

Ie: 7(H), 4(H), 4(S), 3(S), 9(S), A(S), and 5(D) Two win ace because the ace present "one"


Black Jack

"Black Jack" is the name of a shedding card game which shares its name with the casino card game Blackjack. It is a variant of Crazy Eights.


The dealer deals each player 7 cards (or 5 cards if there are more than 4 people), then places a single card face-up on the table and the remainder of the deck in a pile face-down on the table.

A pre-determined method is used to decide which player plays first. It is usually the player left of the dealer who plays first. The game continues from there going clockwise. Play starts from the single card facing up.

Player turns

  • On each turn, the player attempts to place cards from their hand onto the stack.
  • A card can only be placed in the stack if it matches either the rank or suit of the top card.
  • A player can place consecutive cards of the same suit down to remove more cards.
  • If a player cannot take their turn, they pick up a card from the remaining deck.
  • If a player makes an error by placing an illegal card down (putting a card or cards down which goes against the rules of the game such as attempting to put a 7H on top of a 8S, or attempting a run containing one or more illegal cards) or putting a card down a wrong time (when it is not their turn, this is an easy mistake to make such as forgetting that the previous player putting an eight down makes them skip their turn), then this is declared a 'blunder' and the offending player must take back the card(s) they attempted to put down and pick up two more cards from the remaining deck as a penalty.
  • Once the player has played their turn, they must say "Last card" if they only have one card left. If another player thinks that they can play their cards in one turn they say "cards". If they fail to do so, there is a penalty (see Endgame). An alternate method of doing this is 'knocking'. If a player thinks he can win on his next turn, he must warn the other players by making a knocking noise on the table or by saying 'knocking' (or both). If they fail to do so, there is a penalty.

Magic cards

Certain cards have special effects on the gameplay.

  • Aces: The player who puts down an ace nominates a new suit, which all the players must follow. The ace can be put down at any time, of any suit, it does not have to follow the suit that the last card was, with a run on top of it if possible. It can also be used to block a two.
  • Two: The next player is forced to pick up two cards unless he is able to lay another two, black Jack or an ace which makes the next player pick up the cards. Alternatively, a red jack can be used to cancel the card pickup or an ace. One red jack cancels one black Jack.
  • Seven: All other cards held by that player in the same suit as the 7 may be played.
  • Eight: The next player misses a turn unless they have an eight.
  • Black Jack: A Black Jack causes the next player to pick up 5 cards, unless he can follow with another black jack. If one red jack is placed one black jack is cancelled.
  • Red Jack: One red jack cancels one black jack.
  • Queen: A queen can be covered by a card of any suit or rank.
  • King: Reverses order of play.


The first player to get rid of all of their cards wins the game. The game may end once a player has got rid of all his cards, or the remaining players may continue playing until everyone has got rid of their cards (when done a player is declared to have 'got out') bar one player (this player is declared 'last place' or 'the loser' and he may be eliminated if there is an unwieldy number of people wanting to play).

If the player places their last card, but failed to say "Last card" at the end of their previous turn, then they must pick up two cards from the remaining deck (even if the player had multiple cards). A player can also declare their final card by 'knocking', usually by tapping the playing table.

Black Jack Variants

  1. Some variants may include a joker (usually only one, although the players may opt to include 2 jokers).
  2. The player is not allowed to finish on an ace or any power card
  3. Multiple cards can be placed on a single turn, where each card matches the previous card in rank or suit. There is no limit to the number of cards which can be played, but the player may not finish by placing more than one card.
  4. A 3, a 7 or a 10 is sometimes used as the reverse card instead of the king.
  5. The Queen is sometimes a "SLAG" which means she can be covered by any card, not only one of her suit.
  6. Runs within a suit are sometimes allowed (in both ascending and descending order), for example with a top card of 6 of clubs it would be possible to play the 6, 7, 8, and 9 of diamonds.
  7. The King, when it is not "reverse", is sometimes used as a "got to cover" card, in which, the player placing the king must also place a chosen card from the suit of the king.
  8. In some variants a player can end by placing a sequence of cards down.
  9. When placing "pick up" cards the black jacks and twos can be placed together giving a maximum pick up number of 18, so a move such as (JS, 2S, 2H, 2D, 2C, JC) would be a valid and legal move.
  10. The value of the number of cards required to pick up after a black jack is player varies depending on the number of cards dealt to each player at the beginning of the game.
  11. Red Jacks do not cancel black Jacks, instead they can be combined with black Jacks. One must pick up three additional cards per red Jack.

These rules tend to lead to faster play, and can make gameplay more exciting as sometimes a large number of cards can be played in a single turn by taking full advantage of both of these rules in a single turn (for instance with the 6 of clubs on top, it would be possible to play 6D, 6H, 6S, 7S, 8S, 9S, 10S, JS, JC, 10C, 9C in a single turn). Using the king and queen rules from the above list, it would be possible to have this as a move, (If the 6 of clubs is on the top of the deck, the next player could play, KC, 10C, JC, QC, 3C, 5C, 8C, 7C, 7D, 6D, 5D, 5S, 4S, 3S etc. until they cannot place another card)

  1. Can be played with two decks of cards if more than five people are playing.
  2. Is quite similar in several ways to the game Uno.
  3. Is often referred to as 7 Card Blackjack to differentiate between Casino game with the same name.

In some games the eight is used as a play again card

Jacks, Twos and Eights

"Jacks Twos and Eights" (J28 for short) evolved from earlier forms of rummy with the intention of being a faster, more complex game.[ citation needed ]

The deck

J28 is played with a standard 52-card pack of playing cards or if there is a large number of people playing one game then two packs may be mixed together and dealt as normal.


Dealership alternates from round to round (the dealer to the first round is usually determined by cutting the deck and then the lowest card deals). The dealer deals a seven-card hand to each player. After seven cards are dealt the next card is placed face up in the centre of the table, this is the "discard" pile. The remainder of the pack is placed face down next to the "discard" pile, and is called the "stock". The next non-dealing player to the right of the dealer lays the first card.


On each turn, a player plays a card or a run of card on to the discard pile. This card must be of the same suit, or the same value, a heart on a heart or a 10 on a 10. Once this card has been laid it is possible for that player to continue laying cards if a run of several cards is possible. There are several possible combinations the run may be formed from:

  • The player may lay a set of same value cards, on top of a 10 of hearts they may lay a number of 10s regardless of suit.
  • The player may lay a run of numbers either ascending or descending, on top of a 10 of hearts they may lay a 2, 3, 4, 5, of hearts, or a King, Queen, Jack of hearts. The run must not skip numbers, and must be of the same suit as each other and the card they are being laid upon.
  • The player may lay a combination of the two above. They may lay a set of same value cards, three 10s then providing that they follow on suit and begin at them next number lay a run of cards, for example. On top of a 10 of hearts a player may lay: 9 of hearts, 9 of spades, 8 of spades, 7 of spades and 7 of clubs.
  • If the player is unable to lay any card then the player must pick up a card from the stock pile. If the player is then able to play then they can lay a card down on this go.

Game rules

There are several rules which apply to certain cards in the game which change how the cards can be laid.

  • Jacks can be played at any time on top of any card. Not only can it be played at any time in the game it also allows the player to change the suit of the cards to the one they prefer. For example, if a Jack is played the suit can be changed to hearts, then the player is allowed to lay a heart and any other appropriate cards on that go.
  • If a 2 is played then the next player must pick up two cards, unless they can play a 2. This continues around the circle until a player is not able to play a 2. When this happens the player must pick up a number of cards (determined by the number or 2s laid multiplied by 2)
  • If an 8 is played the next person in the game must play an 8 also. Again this continues around the circle until a player is unable to lay an eight. This player must then miss a number of goes (determined by the number of 8s laid)
  • Another rule is that if a player has an ace of hearts the player next in turn must pick up 5 cards, unless they have an ace of spades, this cancels out the 5 cards they must pick up.

Play continues, until one player no longer has any cards to lay. On a player's last card, “last card” must be said on their previous go in order to allow them to lay the card on their last go. One exception to this is if the player is able to end the game with a run or set of same value cards. The game cannot end on a Jack of any suit, 2 of any suit or 8 of any suit. The winner is the first player to have an empty hand.

Take Two

Very similar to Switch, but with some changes. Played with a 52 card deck (No jokers) or a 54 card deck (With jokers.)


The dealer deals each player 5 cards, then places a single card face-up on the table and the remainder of the deck in a pile face-down on the table.

The player left of the dealer plays first. The game continues from there going clockwise. Play starts from the single card facing up.


The player whose turn it is has to place a card of the same value (5 of hearts on a 5 of diamonds) or of the same suit (5 of spades on a 3 of spades). If the player cannot play any card they must take two cards from the deck. When a player is on their last card they must say "last card". A player cannot finish on a trick card. If a player cannot finish they must take two cards from the deck. If a player makes a mistake (e.g. places a card of the wrong suit down) they must fix the mistake and take two cards from the deck.

The game has trick cards like Switch but has less:

2: if a player places a two down, the next player is required to pick up two cards. Should that player have a two himself, however, he may place it down, requiring the next player to pick up four; if he has a two, he may place it, requiring the next player to pick up six; this may continue until the flow reaches a player who does not have a two in his hand, at which point he is required to pick up the required number of cards.

8: if a player puts an eight down, the next player misses their go.

Jack: the jack can reverse the order of play OR skip a player depending on house rules.

Ace: an ace may be placed regardless of the suit, an ace allows the person who places it to change the suit.

Once a player runs out of cards they have won, the game goes on until there is only 1 person left.

House Rules

Decided by the host of the game.

Whether or not placing two or more cards of the same value at once is allowed (placing two 5s in the same turn).

Whether or not placing an ace requires the same suit.

Whether a jack skips a player or reverses the order.

Whether or not jokers are used, if they are the next player must take 5 cards from the deck when they are player. Jokers are rarely used.

When using an ace of spades it may be placed on either the ace of hearts, or a 2 if any suit.

See also

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  1. Oxford Dictionary of Card Games, David Parlett pg. 291 Oxford University Press (1996) ISBN   0-19-869173-4
  2. Oxford Dictionary of Card Games, David Parlett, pg. 291 - Oxford University Press 1996 ISBN   0-19-869173-4