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Canal 21: A Variant of Blackjack
Canal 21 is a blackjack variant found in Panama. Every casino seems to call it something different. The Crown calls it Canal 21, but everybody else calls it the name of their own casino followed by "21." For example the Majestic calls it "Majestic 21."
Here are the standard blackjack rules in Panama, which Canal 21 also follows:
- Dealer hits soft 17.
- Dealer does not take a hole card.
- If player doubles or splits, and dealer gets a blackjack, then the player loses the original bet only.
- Early surrender allowed, except against an ace.
- Player may double on any first two cards.
- Player may double on three-card totals of 9 to 11.
- Player may double after a split.
- Player may split any pair, including aces, up to four hands.
Next, here are the rule modifications for Canal 21.
- Four decks.
- Blackjack pays even money.
- Suited three of a kind pays 20 to 1.
- Unsuited three of a kind pays 3 to 1.
- 6-7-8 Suited pays 5 to 1.
- Unsuited 6-7-8 pays 3 to 1.
- 7-card 21 pays 5 to 1.
- 6-card 21 pays 3 to 1.
- 5-card 21 pays 2 to 1.
For the three of a kind hands, I don't think they have to be the player's only cards. For example, I believe 2Q22 would count.
Before considering all the Canal modifications, I indicate the proper basic strategy in my page on Panamanian blackjack.
I'm sure the many bonuses call for strategy modifications from time to time. However, a list of every such deviation from basic strategy would be very long and tedious to produce.
According to gaming mathematician Cindy Liu, who I hired to analyze this game, the house edge in Canal 21 is 1.20%. The house edge under the standard blackjack rules in Panama is 90% less, at 0.12%. So my advice is to file Canal 21 under sucker bets and leave it alone.
Cindy Liu for her analysis of the game.
Written by: Michael Shackleford