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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Old Game with a New Twist

26 March 2002

Another variation of the tried and true game of casino blackjack is making the rounds in Las Vegas and it seems to be creating quite a stir even among traditionalists. The game is called "Super Fun 21 Single Deck." I'm wondering that if it continues its popularity how long it will take before a Chicago-area casino destination petitions the Illinois Gaming Board to make it a licensed game around here.

I saw Super Fun 21 Single Deck being played at the new Palms and also at the Station Casino properties. Here are the highlights of the game that distinguishes it from the genuine game we've all come to know and love:

  1. Players may double down on two or more cards, even after splitting and hitting, including aces.
  2. Players may split equal value cards, including aces, up to three times.
  3. Players may surrender one half of their wager on any number of cards totaling less than 21, even after hitting, splitting, or doubling down, although surrendering if the dealer has blackjack is not permitted.
  4. Any hand totaling 20 or less with six cards pays even money instantly (no instant winners or bonuses on double down hands).
  5. Any hand totaling 21 with five or more cards pays 2 to 1 instantly (no instant winners or bonuses on double down hands).
  6. Any player blackjack is a guaranteed winner. Blackjack in diamonds pays 2 to 1. Any other blackjack pays even money.

Rules number 4 and 5 are strictly gimmicks. Rule number 2 is no great shakes. Rules number 1 and 3 are very intriguing. Rule number 6 is the catch. Allow me to explain:

Bonuses on multi-card hands are old hat. I would never allow such lures to convince me to play blackjack other than the traditional game. Many casinos allow you to split equal value cards three times, so that's nothing new. However, when it comes to being able to double down on two or more cards, even after splitting and hitting, now you're talking. Throwing in the surrender option makes it all the more inviting.

The big questions here are: Whether or not it's worth it to give up being paid 3 to 2 on blackjacks, even though you are paid 2 to 1 for blackjacks in diamonds (a gimmick). And: Every other blackjack is a guaranteed even money winner even if the dealer has blackjack.

My theory is that you're better off playing the single-deck traditional game using basic strategy and perhaps using some form of card counting technique, than playing Super Fun 21 Single Deck. Being paid 3 to 2 on blackjack is one of the great advantages that players enjoy. The concessions have to be very good to give that up, and I'm not sure you're getting them with this variation, or for that matter, any other variation that has been introduced.

The fun and adventure factor may be there, but why do you want to play games with the one casino game that can be tracked for mathematical advantages? Surely the fact it's single deck spices things up, but give me the real game any day. I'll leave Super Fun 21 Single Deck to the folks who don't take the game seriously.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp