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Match Play 21

The family of games related to blackjack seems to get bigger each and every day, with more and more variants coming out of the woodwork in gambling halls around the world. However, only a few of these games have stood the test of time to become almost as popular as the original.

One of these games is Match Play 21, also known in many places as Spanish 21. This version adds some exciting changes to basic gameplay, including some additional ways for players to win on each hand. There is also the potential to win a jackpot payout if you’re lucky enough to see a lot of sevens on the same hand.

How to Play

Match Play 21 is a form of blackjack that uses many of the same rules, and is played with a “shoe” made up of several modified decks of 48 cards each, with the tens having been removed. Each hand begins with the player making a single bet, after which the player is dealt a two-card hand, face up. The dealer also receives a hand with one card face up, and the other face down.

Each card has a point value. Aces can be worth one or 11 points (whichever is more beneficial to the player), numbered cards are worth their pip value, and face cards are worth 10 points each. The object of the game is to beat the dealer by having a higher hand score. However, 21 is the best score possible: any hand of 22 or higher is considered to have “busted,” and loses immediately.

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Match Play 21

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If the player starts with an ace and a face card, they have a natural 21, also known as a blackjack. This hand wins at 3-2 odds automatically, even if the dealer also has a 21. If the player does not start with a 21, the dealer will check for one; if they find one, it beats all other player hands automatically.

If the hand is not yet decided, the player may then make decisions on how to play their hand. There are four main decisions that a player may make. At any time, they may hit, which means they will receive one more card from the dealer. They may also choose to stand, at which point they will stick with the hand they have.

Players may also split if they start with two cards of the same rank, at which point they make an additional bet and use each of their cards to start a new hand (with additional cards being dealt accordingly). Once per hand, they may choose to double down, in which case they must make a second bet in exchange for one more card, after which they must stand.

If the player busts, all bets associated with that hand are lost. Otherwise, once the player stands, the dealer’s hand will be revealed. The dealer will then play out their hand according to the rules of the table: they will always hit on all hands of 16 or less, and in some versions, will also hit on a “soft” 17 (one that includes an ace that still counts as 11 points). The dealer will stand on all higher hands.

If the dealer busts, then the player will win all best. If the dealer stands, the player and dealer hands are compared. If the player hand is higher, they win even money on all bets. If the dealer hand is higher, the player loses their bets on that hand. Finally, if the hands tie, then all bets push.

However, there are exceptions when the player has a hand of 21. All hands of 21 automatically win, even if the dealer also makes a 21. If the player’s 21 has five cards or more, they also win a bonus, depending on the number of cards used:

  • Five Cards: 3-2
  • Six Cards: 2-1
  • Seven (Or More) Cards: 3-1

Three-card 21s can also be awarded bonuses. If the player’s hand is exactly 7-7-7 or 6-7-8, then the following payouts will be awarded:

  • Mixed Suits: 3-2
  • All Card of One Suit: 2-1
  • All Spades: 3-1

Finally, there is a special bonus available if the player hits 7-7-7 of the same suit while the dealer also has a seven showing. When this occurs, and the player has not split or doubled, the traditional payout is 40-1.

Match Play 21 Strategy

The strategy can be as complex or simple as you want to make it. If you are an experienced blackjack player, most of the easy decisions you made in that game will carry over and be correct here as well. However, there are many spots in which the correct play is different, for a variety of reasons: the ability to double down after receiving more than two cards, the eliminations of the tens in the deck, and the fact that many bonuses can potentially be won all have an impact on play.

Thankfully, it isn’t hard to find easy-to-read strategy charts for this game across the Internet and in many gambling books. It is worth having one of these handy: not only is memorizing the best play for every situation very difficult, but playing with perfect basic strategy will usually bring the house edge in this game under 1%, making it among the best games at any online casino.

Why Play This Game?

Match Play 21 is one of the most popular variations on standard blackjack, and with good reason. This alternate version keeps most of the same feel of the original game, while adding just enough to stand as its own unique experience. If you find the basic version to be just a little too monotonous, you may find that this game offers enough variety (especially with the many new ways to win and the potential for bigger payouts) to reignite your interest. You might also like it if you’re generally a fan of strategy games that allow you to make lots of decisions during play.

Play Online

If you’re ready to try online Match Play 21, but aren’t sure where to get started, we can point you in the right direction. Many casino sites offer this blackjack variant, and we have several recommended options that are trustworthy and reliable. The free game above is from our highly touted partner Slotocash. Sign up now to play for real.

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