Better than Blackjack?
By Katarina Walker
Katarina Walker is the author of "The Proís Guide to Spanish 21 and Australian Pontoon" (link:www.lulu.com/content/1239961). Ms. Walker has a first class honors' degree in Engineering from the University of Western Australia, and a Masters degree in I.T. from the Edith Cowan University. She works as a gaming programmer, analyst, author, and professional player.
Most of you would have noticed the odd Spanish 21 table as youíve wonged and table-hopped your way around the Blackjack pits. If so, you will know that itís essentially Blackjack minus the tens, with liberal rules. If youíre a counter, that is enough to make you recoil with horror, and laugh at anyone foolish enough to play the game, for as we all know, tens are good for the player, and taking four ten-spot cards out per deck costs roughly 2%. That is an awful lot if youíre trying to play with an advantage. You might have even heard that, in theory, Spanish 21 is countable, but you would need a gigantic spread.
Letís a take a minute to examine why Blackjack is so beatable by card counting. There are two primary reasons: a low house edge, and high-magnitude EORs (Effect Of Removal). As we all know, certain Blackjack games have house edges less than 0.5%; it depends on the rules. Likewise with Spanish 21. While 6-deck H17 Spanish 21 has a high house edge of 0.78%, the house edge of S17 Spanish 21 is only 0.38%, and H17 with redoubling, 0.42%.
EOR means is that if you remove a particular card rank from the pack, it will change your overall player advantage. This is why card counting works. The table below shows...
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