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Spanish 21 Quiz Answers

15 April 2003

Last week I popped a 10-question quiz on Spanish 21, a variation on blackjack that adds a number of player options and bonuses. Those wrinkles are really tempting, but Spanish 21 actually has a house edge that is a little higher than that in blackjack. Let's look at the quiz answers.

1. Spanish 21 got its name:

A. Because it uses 48-card "Spanish" decks. The 10-spot cards are removed from standard 52-card decks, leaving Kings, Queens and Jacks as the only 10-value cards.

2. Spanish 21 uses:

C. Six or eight decks, with the dealer usually hitting soft 17. It's most common to use six decks, although there are some eight-deck games. Few casinos have the dealer stand on all 17s--hitting soft 17 is the norm.

3. Spanish 21's special features include:

D. All of the above. The features listed with the question last week were early surrender, that all blackjacks win and that players may double down on any number of cards. Other rules that are good for the player include player 21s of three or more cards winning even if the dealer has a 21 of three or more cards; five-card 21s paying 3-2, six-card 21s paying 2-1 and seven-card 21s paying 3-1, and 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 paying 3-2 if consisting of mixed suits, 2-1 in the same suit and 3-1 in spades.

4. "Double down rescue" means:

A. Players who draw a bad card on a double down may surrender their first bet and pull back the second. It's akin to offering surrender on a double down. Let's say you're dealt an 11 against a dealer's 8 and you double down. You draw a 5. Do you just have to sit on the 16 and pray for the dealer to bust? No. You can call for the double down rescue, surrender your first bet and pull back the second.

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

C. Another player is dealt 7-7-7 of the same suit, while the dealer has a 7 face up. The biggest bonus in Spanish 21 comes when you have 7-7-7 of the same suit and the dealer has a 7 face up. That's worth a $1,000 bonus on bets of $5 to $24, or $5,000 on bets of $25 or more. The other players at the table get $50 envy bonuses.

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

B. Fewer blackjacks are dealt, and double-down opportunities are narrowed. With four fewer 10-value cards per deck, blackjacks are harder to come by in Spanish 21. So are those magic double-down cards that turn 11s into 21s and 10s into 20s.

The other bells and whistles help bring down the house edge, but even so a player who uses the basic strategy specially adapted to Spanish 21 faces a house edge of just under 0.8 percent if the dealer hits soft 17, and 0.4 percent if the dealer stands on all 17s. It's not difficult to find six-deck blackjack games that don't have all the frills but have house edges of less than 0.4 percent. The six-deck game at Empress Joliet, for example, with the dealer standing on all 17s, double downs after pair splits permitted and resplitting Aces allowed, has a house edge of 0.33 percent.

7. Basic strategy for regular blackjack:

B. Will not work as well in Spanish 21. The reduction in 10-value cards means we must make some adjustments, especially in pair-splitting and double-down situations.

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

C. To double down. However, that is not true of all soft 17 hands. If our soft 17 consists of five or more cards, such as Ace-Ace-Ace-2-2, then we just hit instead of doubling.

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

A. To hit. We double down with a two-card 10 against an 8, but with three or more cards we just hit.

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

A. To hit. We have hard 17, and normally we'll just stand against a 10. But with six cards, we'll hit, and hope for a 4 to bring us that 3-1 return on a seven-card 21.

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:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> 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:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski