Advanced Ideas for Playing Spanish 21 at the Expert LevelBy: Mark Freedman, Friday September 5th 2014
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One of the ultimate tests of your ability to master a blackjack-style game is in Spanish 21. This game uses the 48-card Spanish deck which severely hurts your payout rate, but you are given a number of extra strategic options that give you back a lot of that as long as you can play correctly. For example, you can surrender late, you can double after splitting, you can re-split aces, your blackjack always beats a dealer blackjack, you can double on however many cards you want, and you can even hit or double after splitting aces. One of the extra rules that really changes things is that you have the ability to surrender after doubling, so you have a lot of crazy and atypical rules that you don't normally see that will really test your ability.
So how do these rules impact your strategies? First off, doubling is completely different. You have to double in a lot of situations based on how many cards you have. For example, you should double a hard 11 against any dealer card most of the time. However, you have three or more cards, you shouldn't double against a ten or ace. With four or more cards, you shouldn't double against a two, six, seven or eight. Finally, if you have five or more cards, you shouldn't double with a hard eleven at all.
Doubling with soft hands is also severely limited because of the removal of the 10s from the deck. You'll never double with a soft 14 or lower, and you'll only double with a soft 15 if you're facing a six and have fewer than four cards. Along these lines, doubling with a 16, 17 or 18 is similarly complicated and based on more factors than most players will be used to.
Because of the liberal rules on splitting, you will end up splitting a whole lot in this game. In fact, you're going to split a majority of the time with paired hands if you don't have fours, fives or tens. The trickiest paired hand to learn to play in Spanish 21 is 99. You'll stand against a two, seven, ten or ace, and you'll split otherwise. This is an atypical hand because standing is strong against a two or seven because of the chances of the dealer going bust combined with hitting 17 and still losing.
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