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Super Fun 21 Strategy for Soft Hands and Splitting Pairs

4 December 2001

By John Grochowski

Last week we looked at basic strategy for hard totals in Super Fun 21, a new blackjack variation with a load of rules that are favorable to the player that are offset by one big bad one.

The good rules: single deck; double down on any number of cards, including after splitting pairs; late surrender on any number of cards; six cards totaling 20 or under automatically win; five-card 21s pay 2-1; player blackjacks always win, even if the dealer has blackjack; blackjacks in diamonds pay 2-1.

The bad one: blackjacks that include at least one non-diamond pay only even money.

Together with the dealer hitting soft 17, that leaves a game with a house edge of 0.77 percent against a basic strategy player. But we can't use exactly the same basic strategy as in regular blackjack. To get the most out of the game, we must make adjustments.

Let's continue with Super Fun 21 strategy for soft totals, then go into splitting pairs.

If you're a blackjack regular, you know that a soft total is one in which an Ace is being used as an 11. That means you can't bust the hand with a one-card hit, because you can always revert to using the Ace as a 1. If you have a soft 15 such as Ace-4, for example, and draw an 8, you don't bust with 23. You now just use the Ace as a 1 for a total of 13, and may decide whether to take another card.

In Super Fun 21, our strategy for soft totals must take into account the automatic win for six cards totaling 20 or less and the 2-1 payoff on five-card 21s.

For example, if we're dealt Ace-3 and the dealer has a 4, we'd double down. But if our soft 14 is Ace-Ace-2 instead, we'll just hit and see if the hand takes us toward one of the automatic pays.

With all that taken into account, that leaves the following Super Fun strategy for soft totals:

Soft 13: Double if the dealer shows 5 or 6; hit against anything else.

Soft 14: Double if the dealer shows 4, 5 or 6, but just hit against 4 if the soft 14 consists of 3 or more cards. Hit against all other dealer up cards.

Soft 15, soft 16: Double against 4, 5 or 6, but just hit against 4 with three or more cards and just hit against 5 or 6 with four or more cards. Hit against all other up cards.

Soft 17: Hit against 7 through Ace. Double against 2 through 6, except just hit against 2 or 3 with three or more cards; hit against 4 or 5 with four or more cards, and hit against 6 with five cards.

Soft 18: This is our most complex decision in Super Fun 21. Hit against 9, 10 or Ace. Stand against 2, except hit with three or more cards. Stand against 7 or 8, except hit with four or more cards. Double against 3 through 6, except hit against 3, 4 or 5 with four or more cards and hit against 6 with five cards.

Soft 19: Double against 6, except hit with five cards; stand against all other up cards, except hit against 10 with four or more cards and against all others with five cards.

Soft 20: Stand, except hit with five cards.

Soft 21: Stand.

Pair splitting is a little less complex. Just as in regular blackjack, we always split Aces and 8s and never split 5s or 10s.

Here's the full strategy for splitting pairs in Super Fun 21:

2, 2 or 3, 3: Split if the dealer shows 2 through 7; hit against 8 through Ace.

4, 4: Split against 5 or 6; hit against all other up cards.

5, 5: Double down.

6, 6: Split if the dealer shows 2 through 7; hit against 8 through Ace.

7, 7: Split if the dealer shows 2 through 8; hit against 9 or Ace. Surrender if the dealer's up card is a 10.

8, 8: Split.

9, 9: Stand if the dealer's up card is 7 or 10; split against all other up cards.

10, 10: Stand.

Ace, Ace: Split.

The play that probably looks a little odd to you is that we always double down on a pair of 5s, even against a 10 or an Ace. Why? Because Super Fun allows us to surrender on any number of cards, and if we draw a bad card on our double down, we can always surrender one bet instead of losing two.

On double-down hands that turn out badly, regardless of whether we're starting with hard totals, soft totals or pairs, we surrender with 16 or less against a dealer's 8, 9, 10 or Ace, and also surrender 17 against an Ace.

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, with podcasts at www.wlsam.com/sectional.asp?id=38069. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook (tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

The Craps Answer Book

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