Spanish 21 - FAQ
Rod from Newburgh, Indiana
Good question. Yes, this house edge is definitely low enough to consider card counting. Since most card counters don’t even consider Spanish 21 I think the field is ripe to exploit the game and to do so with a great deal of impunity. However counting may not be as effective in Spanish 21 as regular blackjack. A small card rich deck will benefit the player in more multiple card 21’s. To the best of my knowledge nobody has developed index numbers for Spanish 21 but somebody should. Maybe I will.
Rod from Newburgh, USA
Casino Player reversed the two charts in their layout. I'm very embarrassed by this mistake. Yes, you should hit a hard 17 against an ace if you can't surrender.
Chris from Seattle, Washington
This lowers the house edge from 3.06% to 1.42%.
Randy from Toledo, Ohio
In a 6-deck game the probability of a super bonus is 1 in 668382, and in an 8-deck game it is 1 in 549188. The house edge without the super bonus would be 0.03% more either way.
Michael from Philadelphia, USA
Spanish 21! Under Atlantic City rules blackjack has a house edge of 0.43% and Spanish 21 of .40%.
Michael from Philadelphia, USA
The Venetian. To the best of my knowledge they are the only casino in Las Vegas which stands on a soft 17 in Spanish 21, lowering the house edge from 0.76% to 0.40%.
Update: The Venetian later switched to hitting a soft 17. As of this update (May 14, 2013) the best Spanish 21 game is at the D, which allows re-doubling.
Reana from Fairport, U.S.
All Unified Gaming casinos as well as Global Player offer Spanish 21. Unified Gaming stands on a soft 17 and thus has the lower house edge.
2013 Update: Unified Gaming software has since disappeared. As far as I know, nobody offers Spanish 21 online any longer.
Dave from Roanoke, Virginia
Thanks for the compliment. The Spanish 21 rules are the same across Atlantic City. I only know of two that have the game, the Tropicana and the Claridge, but there could be others by now. If I'm not mistaken, the best craps game is at the Sands, which offers 5X odds. When I say to take the maximum odds I mean bet the maximum allowed on the odds. For example, $50 after a $10 line bet. Keep in mind that you won't win more money by taking the odds, you just get to bet more without losing more in the long run.
Raymond from Thunder Bay, Canada
I always liked the name Thunder Bay for a city. I used to work at a summer camp not too far from there in Missanabie, Ontario. To answer your question 6 decks is better than 8. However the difference in the house edge is small, only about 0.03%.
Q1. For 17 v A (your reference - Rh). If the player doesn’t surrender (or double down surrender), does he in fact hit? I ask this question because I’m a little unsure - Scoblete’s book says to stand 17 v A, as does Norm Wattenberger’s Spanish 21 strategy table in CVBJ3.
Q2. Your references to the 6-7-8 bonuses. Do all the references apply equally to the 7-7-7 bonuses? e.g. Does * mean "Hit if any 6-7-8 [OR 7-7-7] bonus possible"?
Q3. p20 of Scoblete’s Spanish 21 book says to hit 9 v 6 if player has a 3 card 9. Should I ignore this advice, along with the "don’t double down rescue" advice given in his book?
Sorry to bother you with these questions but I’ve got a Spanish 21 tournament coming up, and need all the help I can get. Many thanks.
Alan from Sydney, Australia
- Yes, you should hit. I believe all those who disagree to be in error.
- No, the 7-7-7 bonus is only possible with two initial sevens. The proper strategy is indicated in that row.
- Yes, you should ignore this advice.
I get verbally abused too when I play Spanish 21. When I lived in Baltimore I played it a lot in Atlantic City because the house edge is lower than blackjack there. These idiots doing the abusing don’t understand that removing the tens from the decks makes hitting less dangerous because the probability of busting is less. Don’t bother to try to explain this, the logic won’t make it through their thick skulls. I used to just bite my tongue in these situations but the next time I may not be so nice.
There was discussion about this at www.bj21.com under the Green Chip section about a couple years ago. As I recall the consensus was that counting was not as advantageous as in blackjack but you could get away with a lot more. I know of no published material on this.
Dave from Cedar Falls, Iowa
That lowers the house edge by 0.16%.
Nick from London
Most redoubling situations tell you to double anyway. However, with a soft 15 to 17 against a 3, when the strategy says hit, you should actually redouble.
Eric from Tallahassee
Thanks. This game is just a rip-off of Spanish 21. Note that the bottom of the card says that all queens are removed.
Kevin from Toronto
Keeping all the tens in the deck is worth 1.89% to the player. The house edge under those rules is normally 0.40%. So with all the tens in the shoe, the player edge would be 1.89%-0.40% = 1.49%.
Dean from Toronto
I don’t like it when games give worse odds to the higher bettors either. The value of these Super Bonuses is almost zero. The probability of hitting the Super Bonus is one in 549,000 with eight decks, and one in 668,000 million with six decks. Assuming six decks, the value of the envy bonus is worth 0.0015% per additional player, besides yourself. Sorry, I don’t know of any casinos that sweeten the bonuses for larger bets.
Not knowing, however, where to find it, and others, I usually wind up writing to the maker of the game at their website and asking where I can find their game outside of Nevada, since I am in the Midwest. I NEVER get an answer! Besides being just bad customer service, I still have the question of finding the game to be answered. Do you know of a site, or a way, to find which specific games are at which casinos? You would think the game’s manufacturer would list where to find it to assist in letting players find the game.
Larry S. from Columbus, OH
Thanks for the kind words. I think the gaming manufacturers should take this as a good suggestion. I get requested for this information by players all the time, but it is simply too much for one person to keep on top of. A noteworthy exception is Masque Publishing, the owners of Spanish 21. They keep an online list of where the liberal Spanish 21 rules can be found.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume re-splitting aces is not allowed. Also recall that Spanish 21 uses 48-card Spanish decks with no 10’s. Finally, recall that 21 points is an automatic winner in Spanish 21.
Even without that rule, the player should always split aces. The probability of getting a pair of aces in a four Spanish-deck game is combin(16,2)/combin(192,2) = 120/18336 = 0.65%.
The probability each ace will get a 10 is (4*12)/(48*12-2) = 48/190 = 25.26%. With two aces, the expected number that will turn into blackjacks is 2*48/190 = 96/190 = 0.5053.
Each blackjack will be worth an extra half unit. Thus, the value of this rule is (120/18336)*(96/190)*(1/2) = 0.17%.
Even with this rule, the player should still not split tens, so we don’t need to worry about that. So, this rule lowers the house edge by 0.17%.