Armada Strategies For Spanish 21
by Frank Scoblete
It took a while, but this game finally became a casino staple, probably because it's an action game with a very small house edge. Even though it's a simple game, the special rules and various additional payouts sometimes confuse the player, especially because of the "missing cards," and because the playing strategy is different from the old-fashioned 21 game. So, to clear all that confusion up, Scoblete takes you through the game from start to finish, beginning with his Armada Play Basic Strategy, which gives you the correct play for every player hand against every dealer hand, following with Armada Ruse, (devoted to maximizing comps), and Armada Money Management, a system for making your money go further.
Spanish Blackjack Without Leaving Home!
Spanish Blackjack, also known as Spanish 21, is a popular variant of traditional blackjack. The basic premise is that all of the 10s are removed from the deck. This rule change affects strategy, but if you know what you're doing, it has a very low house edge. You can play Spanish Blackjack at Microgaming casinos online. The game is also available in a multi-hand version.
Spanish 21 is played likeHenry Tamburin is the editor and publisher of the Blackjack Insider Newsletter and author of the best-selling Blackjack: Take the Money & Run. He is also the lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course, a feature writer for Casino Player magazine (and 6 other publications); an owner of a casino gambling publishing company (www.rsucasinobooks.com) and the host of www.smartgaming.com. For a free three month subscription to the Henry's Blackjack Insider Newsletter with full membership privileges go to www.bjinsider.com/free. Henry's website is www.smartgaming.com
the traditional game of blackjack
with the objective of having your hand total higher than the dealer’s hand without busting. Six decks of cards are used just like the traditional blackjack except for one major difference. All the ten-spot cards are removed from the decks.
Removing tens from a deck of cards in blackjack has a profound effect on the player’s odds. The casino's edge over a basic strategy
player increases to about 3% because a player will be getting fewer blackjacks (and the 3 to 2 payoffs) and the dealer will not bust as often. To compensate for this, casinos offer several very liberal playing rules and some interesting and unique bonuses. They include the following.
1. You can double down on any number of cards including after pair splitting (even splitting aces).
2. You can split pairs including aces up to 4 times.
3. You can surrender and take insurance
4. You can surrender the original bet but save the double-down bet (assuming the hand has not busted). This rule is called Double Down rescue.
5. A player blackjack beats a dealer blackjack and pays 3 to 2.
6. All ties push except a player’s 21 point total beats a dealer 21 point total.
7. In addition to the 3 to 2 bonus for blackjack, Spanish 21 offers the following bonus payoffs:
5 card 21 pays 3 to 2 7-7-7 unsuited pays 3 to2
6 card 21 pays 2 to1 7-7-7 suited pays 2 to1
7 card 21 pays 3 to 1 7-7-7 of spades pays 3 to1
6-7-8 unsuited pays 3 to 2
6-7-8 suited pays 2 to1
6-7-8 of spades pays 3 to1.
7. There is a Super Jackpot Bonus of $1,000 to a player who gets dealt 7-7-7 suited and the dealer’s upcard is also a 7. In additional all the other table players get a $50 “envy” bonus.
Good as some of the above rules and bonuses are, they do not completely compensate for the lack of tens. The bottom line casino’s edge over a basic strategy player in Spanish 21 is about eight tenths of a percent which is higher than the half of a percent edge the casino has over the basic player in the traditional game. If the rules specify that the dealer must stand on soft 17, then the house edge
is reduced to four tenths of a percent.
Another important point is that the basic strategy in Spanish 21 is not the same as it is for the traditional game. In fact it would be a big mistake to use the traditional basic playing strategy in Spanish 21. You must learn a different playing strategy that is specific for Spanish 21. It contains about 50 differences in playing strategy compared to the traditional strategy. Some of the playing strategy may seem strange. Like surrendering a 17 against a dealer’s ace upcard. But remember-we’re not playing with a full deck of cards, therefore it is not unexpected that the basic playing strategy is different (you’ll find a basic strategy for Spanish 21 in Frank Scoblete
’s book, Armada Strategies for Spanish 21).
By the way, card counting
doesn’t work as well in Spanish 21 as it does in the traditional game. You need a very big bet spread (as much as 30 to 10) just to get a half- percent edge with card counting. You can however, reduce the casino’s edge slightly with a more conservative betting spread.
If you compare the casino’s edge in Spanish 21 to other casino games it’s fair to say that Spanish 21 ranks right up there as one of the better games (any bet with a casino’s edge less than 1% is a good bet). But you must learn the specific basic strategy for this game in order to enjoy the relatively low casino edge.
Even though you won’t get the mathematical edge in Spanish 21 with basic strategy, it’s still possible to gain a monetary edge. How can this be done? By taking advantage of the comps
the casino will extend to you just for playing. This includes free meals and show tickets, discounted or free room, invitations to special events, etc. You can in fact gain back more in the value of comps compared to your expected loss from playing. Getting “more for less” will result in a net monetary gain.