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Spanish 21

Given how popular blackjack has proven to be around the world, it’s only natural that many have tried to change or build on the basics of the classic in order to create new challenges for players. One of the most popular of these attempts is Spanish 21, a game that can be found in many brick-and-mortar casinos, as well as many Internet gaming sites.

This version of the casino favorite features much of the same action as the original, with players hitting, standing, doubling down and splitting. However, there are a number of bonus ways to win, and the game is played with 48-card decks that change the math behind the game in some unusual ways.

How to Play

In order to play Spanish 21, it is best to first have an understanding of the rules of blackjack. Assuming you are familiar with that game, we will focus mostly on the changes that are found in this popular variant. While the exact rules used at each site or venue can vary, the following should be very close to the rules you’ll find in most places.

The game starts with the player making a single bet. The player and dealer are then both dealt two cards from a shoe, usually comprised of either six or eight decks. However, these aren’t standard decks of playing cards: they are made up of just 48 cards, as the tens have been removed.

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Spanish 21

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Tens and face cards are some of the best cards in the shoe for the player in blackjack, so this change is definitely something that pushes the odds in the direction of the house. But to make up for that, this game includes a variety of rules that are designed to make it easier for players to win or save bets during play.

Many traditions of the original game are turned on their heads in order to help players. For instance, player blackjacks now automatically beat those made by the dealer, and all player hands of 21 points will automatically win. Some rules that are sometimes optionally used in the main game are standard here: late surrender is always allowed, you can re-split your aces, and doubling after splitting is permitted.

Other rules are entirely new. Players have the option of doubling down after any number of cards, and can still surrender after they double (in this case losing a full bet by doing so).

Players can also get bonuses for making relatively rare hands. A 21 made of five or more cards pays out at better than even odds, as follows:

  • Five Cards: 3-2
  • Six Cards: 2-1
  • Seven or More Cards: 3-1

If the player can make a three-card 21 with 6-7-8 or 7-7-7, they are also entitled to a bonus payout. Usually, this is a win at 3-2 odds; however, hitting all three cards of the same suit normally pays 2-1, while that combination in spades is worth 3-1. Holding 7-7-7 of the same suit when the dealer also holds a seven as their up card is usually worth a large bonus, which can vary by casino.

Strategy

Strategy for this game can be very complex. Not only do you have to consider what your hand total is and what the dealer is showing, but you must also think about whether or not you have doubled yet, and any bonuses you might potentially be able to win going forward. A hand that has a chance at a 7-7-7 payout or a five-card or more 21 is very different than a similar hand that can’t win those prizes, and the correct play will sometimes vary based on how many cards you have drawn so far.

Luckily, it isn’t too hard to find strategy charts for Spanish 21 online, and that is a much better option than either trying to memorize the correct plays or figuring it out as you play. This is an especially smart idea in this game, because the odds are sometimes even better than in standard blackjack, with house edges of less than 0.5% common. Just be aware of the exact rules being used in the game you are playing, as correct basic strategy can vary based on what version is being played.

Why Play This Game?

One of the best reasons to play Spanish 21 is to combine a love of blackjack with the desire to play something a little different. The odds in both games are very similar, but the play diverges quite a bit: you can find plays that are entirely correct in one game that are obviously wrong in the other. Even if you aren’t familiar with this kind of casino game, however, you might enjoy this if you generally like strategic challenges and games where you have lots of options and control over the outcome of each hand.

Play Online

Spanish 21 is sometimes a confusing game, but it tends to be a lot easier to play on the Internet, where both players and their virtual dealers have an easier time keeping track of everything that is going on during each hand. If this sounds like a game you’d like to try, we can recommend a number of excellent online casinos that offer it for players.

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