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Spanish 21

8 April 2003

Spanish 21 isn't the most widespread of table games, but it enjoys a comfortable niche anywhere local laws don't limit the number of gaming positions.

The game, based on blackjack with some key differences, prospers through most of the Midwest and South, with Illinois being a rare exception due to a limit of 1,200 gaming positions per license. Where available, players like it because of all the extra options and bonuses not available in regular blackjack. Casinos like it because the house edge is slightly higher than that on blackjack, and it's difficult for card counters to gain the upper hand.

Let's try a little quiz to see how much you know about this variation on blackjack. Answers next week.

1. Spanish 21 got its name:

  1. Because it uses 48-card "Spanish" decks.
  2. Because the dealer shouts "Ole!" for every blackjack.
  3. Because it was invented by an American in Barcelona.
  4. Because it has long been a standard casino game in Spain.

2. Spanish 21 uses:

  1. A single deck, with the dealer hitting soft 17.
  2. Six or eight decks, with the dealer usually standing on all 17s.
  3. Six or eight decks, with the dealer usually hitting soft 17.
  4. As many as 12 decks, with the dealer usually hitting soft 17.

3. Spanish 21's special features include:

  1. Early surrender.
  2. All blackjacks win, regardless of dealer's hand.
  3. Double down on any number of cards.
  4. All of the above.

4. "Double down rescue" means:

  1. Players who draw a bad card on a double down may surrender their first bet and pull back the second.
  2. Players who draw a bad card on a double down may receive a replacement card if they double again.
  3. Players who follow someone who has drawn a bad double-down card may give up their own draw to rescue the other player.
  4. A 21 on a double down brings a "rescue" token that can be used as an automatic 21 for a subsequent bust hand.

5. Players receive a $50 "envy bonus" whenever:

  1. Another player is dealt back-to-back blackjacks.
  2. Another player is dealt 6-7-8 of the same suit, while the dealer has a blackjack.
  3. Another player is dealt 7-7-7 of the same suit, while the dealer has a 7 face up.
  4. Another player has 7 cards of the same suit that total 21.

6. Despite bonuses and favorable play options, Spanish 21 has a higher house edge than regular blackjack because:

  1. Blackjacks pay only even money.
  2. Fewer blackjacks are dealt, and double down opportunities are narrowed.
  3. The house wins ties.
  4. So many decks are used.

7. Basic strategy for regular blackjack:

  1. Will work just as well in Spanish 21.
  2. Will not work as well in Spanish 21.
  3. Will work even better in Spanish 21.
  4. Needs only minor adjustments to account for surrender.

8. When the dealer shows a 6, basic strategy for Spanish 21 calls for a player with Ace-6:

  1. To hit.
  2. To stand.
  3. To double down.
  4. To surrender.

9. When the dealer shows an 8, basic strategy for Spanish 21 calls for a player with 3-3-4:

  1. To hit.
  2. To stand.
  3. To double down.
  4. To surrender.

10. When the dealer shows a 10, basic strategy for Spanish 21 calls for a player with Ace-Ace-2-2-4-7:

  1. To hit.
  2. To stand.
  3. To double down.
  4. To surrender.
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski