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by JPB

JPB has been playing blackjack and counting cards part-time since 1996. He plays throughout the country but primarily in Missouri. He has been a Green Chip member of for five years and one-time winner of the Post-of-the-Month. JPB is a professional engineer with three engineering degrees and works as a consulting engineer.

Casinos visited for this report were all located in the Seattle-Tacoma area. They include:




Silver Dollar Seatac

Silver Dollar Renton

Struggling in Seattle

I did some preliminary investigation prior to my trip to Seattle and decided that in general, the double-deck blackjack games do not look good (all H17 and generally poor penetration). The six- and eight-deck games did not look much better. The one exception that I was aware of was at the Emerald Queen casino, which I knew had a good double-deck game, with surrender and decent penetration; however, I had worn my welcome out at this casino on a previous trip.

The game that looked worthwhile in this area was Spanish 21. In most casinos, there might be one token Spanish 21 table per 10 or more regular blackjack tables. But for whatever reason, Seattle appears to be the mecca of Spanish 21. For example, at one of the casinos I visited, there was only one eight-deck traditional blackjack table and about four Spanish 21 tables.

On this trip, I was able to play at Macau, Fortune, Riverside, Silver Dollar (Seatac), and Silver Dollar (Renton). All of these casinos are within 10 miles of the Seattle-Tacoma airport. The Silver Dollar Seatac casino is only about a mile from the airport.

Spanish 21

There is one very bad feature that is applicable to all Spanish 21 games: the 10-value cards are removed. Every good card counter knows that every plus one true count is worth about 0.5%. So removing the 10s, without any countering benefits, would raise the house advantage to about 2.0 %, making the game horrendous. However, there are other benefits with Spanish 21 that I believe are applicable to nearly all Spanish 21 games:

  • Player 21 is automatic winner
  • Player blackjack is automatic 3:2 winner
  • Resplit aces allowed and draw multiple cards after split
  • Double down on any number of cards
  • Late surrender and surrender after doubling
  • Bonuses for 5 and 6 card 21 and 6-7-8 and 7-7-7.

With these extras, the house advantage is still difficult to overcome for H17 and four or more decks, at about 0.7% (worse than the typical six-deck game with H17). However, the Seattle casinos allow...

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