Switch Card Game (Rules and Instructions)

Winning Switch is simple: Just get rid of all your cards by matching their suits or ranks. However, if your opponents get a bit mischievous, a single card they play can return you to square one. These Switch card game rules explain the game in detail.

The Switch is a popular card game that you may also know as Two Four Jacks, Last Card, or Irish Switch. This shedding-type card game was invented in England but has spread worldwide quickly thanks to its simplicity and exciting unpredictability.

If you know how to play UNO or Mao (check out classic UNO rules and Mao card game rules if you don’t), you already know the essential principles of Switch too. Your main aim in this game is to get rid of all your cards – but it is not as easy as you may think in the end.

This Switch card game rules guide will cover the following: 

  • What is the Switch card game?
  • What you’ll need to play the Switch card game
  • Switch card game rules
  • How to play the Switch card game (video tutorial)
  • FAQs
  • Other similar games to Switch (our guides)

If you want to learn how to play Switch, continue reading my simple step-by-step guide.

What is the Switch Card Game?

Switch Card Game Info Image

The Switch is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a classic, easy-to-learn game with a few original twists. You can play it in a pair or with a bunch of friends. The best thing about this game is its unpredictability, which keeps you alert and excited until the last turn.

As with many traditional card games, Switch rules may vary depending on the version of your choice or the number of players involved. Nevertheless, the basic principles remain the same. 

Number of Players: 2+ (ideally up to 8) 

Ages: 7+

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Length of Play: 20 – 40 minutes

Category: Shedding-type card game

Similar to: UNO, Mau Mau, Crazy Eights

Main Objective: Get rid of all your cards faster than your opponents. 

Why We Love It: Switch is simple but not trivial, so it keeps you hooked even after many rounds and plays. There are also many variations to spice the game up in time.

What You’ll Need to Play Switch Card Game

If you like to play card games on vacations, camping trips, or during travels, Switch is a great choice: All you need to play this game is a standard 52-playing card deck

However, if the game involves more than four players, it is recommended to use two identical decks instead.

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Switch Card Game Rules and Gameplay

The Switch is, in principle, a simple game, but there’s a relatively long list of specific rules you should know before you start playing. You might even want to print out some parts of these instructions to avoid confusion while you’re still new to the game.

Starting the Game

Before you start playing, set up the cards:

  • First, select a dealer who will deal an equal number of cards to all the players. 
  • Usually, each player receives seven cards to begin with. Sometimes, however, when you play in a larger group, you may hand out fewer cards to the players (e.g., 5 to each) to speed things up.
  • Place the remaining cards in a down-facing pile at the center of the table. This will be your draw pile
  • First, flip the top card from the draw pile and place it on the side. The game can begin just in case this card is not one of the trick cards. If it is a trick card, keep drawing from the pile until you find a “standard” card and start playing.

Switch “Trick Cards” 

Some cards in Switch have special powers or functions. They are usually called Trick Cards or Power Cards. Here’s a list of such cards and their features: 

  • 2: If you play two of any suits, the next player must take two cards. You cannot play two twos together. If the next player also plays two, they are spared from taking two cards, but the next player has to take four cards instead, and so on. 
  • 8: Playing eight forces the next player to skip their turn. Players can decide whether playing another eight will pass the “spell” on to the next player. If you pass it from player to player, the one without eight skips as many turns as eights played.
  • 10: Reverse the direction of gameplay.
  • Black Jack: If you play black Jack (any of the two black suits), the next player takes as many cards as were initially dealt – or play their Black Jack to pass the effect on the next player, who takes double. If you have both black Jacks, play them together. 
  • Red Jack: Red Jack (again, any suit) works as a remedy to black Jack. Use it to cancel the effect of black Jack. 
  • Ace: You can play Ace regardless of the rank and suit of the previous card (i.e., it works as a wild card). A player can freely decide on the suit for the next player. 

Note: Switch has many variations, so you can encounter numerous different trick card rules. Make sure to agree on the rules you want to apply with your opponents before you start playing to avoid any confusion during the gameplay. 

How to Play Switch Card Game

Now when you’re familiar with the Trick Cards and their function, the gameplay is straightforward:

  • The player left of the dealer begins by playing a card that matches the previous card’s rank or suit.
  • If you’re stuck (i.e., you don’t have any matching card), you must draw one card from the draw pile. 
  • You can also withhold a card voluntarily (e.g., if it is a red Jack you want to save for later), but you still have to draw a card.
  • The next player takes turns following the same pattern.
  • Whenever someone plays one of the trick cards, you follow the rules above.

Last Card rule

When you have one last remaining card, don’t forget to call “last card” before your turn ends. If you do not follow this rule, you can be penalized by having to draw one more card.

Switch Card Game Scoring 

The gameplay continues until someone gets rid of all their cards. The first player with empty hands wins the game.

How to Play Switch Card Game – Video Tutorial 

Switch Card Game Frequently Asked Questions

What if you run out of draw cards in Switch?

Running out of cards in your draw pile is not uncommon in Switch since players often have to draw many cards at once. If this happens, keep the top card from a discard pile, shuffle the rest and use it as a new draw pile.

Is Switch the same as Blackjack?

No. Although the term Black Jack is used in Switch, and the game itself can occasionally be unofficially referred to as Blackjack, it is not the same as the original casino game.

How do you play sequences in the Switch card game?

The Switch has numerous variations and alternative or optional rules. One allows players to play a sequence of consecutive cards of the same suit together. This lets them get rid of their cards faster, speeding up the whole gameplay.

Other Similar Games to Switch (Our Guides) 

If you’d like to try some Switch alternatives, check our rules guides to the following card games:

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