Spanish 21 - How to Play


Spanish 21

Spanish 21 is a casino game that is based on the classic game of blackjack, but has several different rules and exciting twists. The game is played with only 48 cards and the removal of the tens provides the house with an increased edge. This fact is compensated with additional bonus advantages and alternative rules with which the player can gain back the advantage.

Spanish 21 is essentially a table game which has experienced a growth in popularity in the recent decade. It was formally introduced to Las Vegas casinos seven years ago and these days, most casinos will boast one or two Spanish 21 tables. The online version of the game is even newer, only having hit the scene a few years ago, and is yet to be completely standardized.

Spanish 21 is a casino game that is based on the classic game of blackjack, but has several different rules and exciting twists. The game is played with only 48 cards and the removal of the tens provides the house with an increased edge. This fact is compensated with additional bonus advantages and alternative rules with which the player can gain back the advantage.

Click for details on Spanish 21 strategy chart.

Spanish 21 vs. Blackjack

In order to fathom how Spanish 21 works, a player needs to have a basic understanding of blackjack rules. Spanish 21 is a spin-off of blackjack, following the same betting premises, but some alternative rules and bonus features make it an independent game in its own right.

Unlike blackjack, Spanish 21 does not use a full deck of 52 cards, but rather removes the Tens and forms a deck of 48 cards. While the removal of the Tens obviously creates a stronger edge for the house, Spanish 21 rules and bonus features compensate this fact and bring the edge back to the player’s field.

Rules

The main rule difference between blackjack and Spanish 21 is that a player’s 21 always beats a dealer’s 21.

Additional rules and bonuses are presented below:

Bonus 21

When a player’s card total equals 21, he may qualify for a Bonus 21. Different bonuses can be received for reaching a total of 21:

  • If 5 cards from any suit form a 21, the payout is 3:2
  • If 6 cards from any suit form a 21, the payout is 2:1
  • If 7 cards from any suit form a 21, the payout is 3:1
  • If a 6,7,8 from mixed suits form a 21, the payout is 3:2
  • If a 6,7,8 from the same suit form a 21, the payout is 2:1
  • If a 6,7,8 from only Spades form a 21, the payout is 3:1
  • If a 7,7,7 from mixed suits form a 21, the payout is 3:2
  • If a 7,7,7 from the same suit form a 21, the payout is 2:1
  • If a 7,7,7 from only Spades form a 21, the payout is 3:1

Super Bonus: In Spanish 21, a player will be awarded the Super Bonus when he holds a suited 7,7,7 and the dealer in turn draws a 7 in any suit. Bets from $5 to $24 can get paid a Super Bonus of $1000, while bets of $25 or more get paid $5000. If a player does get lucky and wins the Super Bonus, then other players at the table are not left out – they are awarded an Envy Bonus and are paid out $50. If a player chooses to split or double, then the Super Bonus will be voided. It should be noted that many casinos, especially those online, might have slightly different rules relating to the Super Bonus and these should be examined closely before the commencement of play.

Pair Splitting: Players are allowed to split any cards of equal value, including Aces and can thus create up to four hands. Players may hit and double on split hands and they are even awarded the Bonus 21 on a split hand. The Super Bonus, however, is not applicable to these hands.

Late Surrender: Late Surrender is a rule that increases the player’s odds against the house. If a player is dealt two cards and he doesn’t like them, he is given the option of surrendering and forfeiting half of his original bet and is removed from the hand. The Late Surrender rule is not allowed when a dealer is showing a blackjack.

Doubling Down: Players are given the option to double down one time on two or more cards, irrespective of their total, and even if they have split. When a player selects to double down, he can place any bet up to the value of his original bet. Bonus 21 is not applicable to a hand that is doubled down.

Double Down Rescue: Doubling Down Rescue refers to a rule in which a player has the option to rescue the doubled portion of his bet if he is not happy with his non-busted double down hand. When doing so, a player forgoes his original wager and is removed from the hand.

Other Rules

Some other rules include the following:

  • A dealer can hit or stand on a soft 17
  • 6-8 decks of Spanish cards are used
  • Some casinos will allow redoubling up to three times
  • Some casinos will allow a late surrender on the first two cards

Negative Aspects of Spanish 21 to the Player

The hype around Spanish 21 is that the removal of the Tens from the deck is compensated by the fact that there are extra bonuses and attractive rules for the player. However, there are some negative aspects to these rules:

  • Spanish 21 is generally a game played with six decks of cards and the chances of the dealer hitting a soft-17 are not extra-ordinary. The down side is that the game uses Spanish decks with no Tens, only Jacks, Queens and Kings that are worth ten. If a player is dealt 11 and they wish to double down, they should remember that there are only 12 cards valued at 10 and not 16, in order to complete the 21 total.
  • Due to the fact that there are fewer cards valued at ten, even though players are allowed to double down on any number of cards, in actual fact there are much less possibilities to do so. The presence of fewer high cards in the deck means that players hit on some hands that they would normally stand on in regular blackjack. Bonus hands also affect the way that people play out their hands – a play might risk to bust a hard total of four to six cards in order to go for the Bonus 21.

Spanish 21 Basic Strategy - Hard Totals

A player should always stand with totals of 18 or more, and hit with totals of 8 or less. The following table should be used in other cases:


Hard Totals What to do
Hard 9
  • A two card nine should be doubled down if the dealer is showing a 6
  • Hit against all other up cards
  • Hit against a 6 if the nine is made up of three cards
  • Hard 10
  • Double down if the dealer is showing a 2-7
  • Hit against eights or higher
  • Hard 11
  • Double down if the dealer is showing a 2-8
  • Hit against a nine or higher
  • Hard 12
  • Always hit against a hard 12
  • Hard 13
  • If the dealer is showing a 2,3,4 or 7 or higher then it should be hit
  • Stand against a 5 or 6, but hit if the 13 is made up of five cards or more
  • Hard 14
  • Hit against a 2,3 or 7 or higher
  • If the hard 14 is made up of 4 cards or more, then hit on a 4
  • If the hand is made up of five or more cards, hit on a 5 or 6
  • Hard 15
  • Hit against a 7 or higher
  • If the 15 is made up of four or more cards, hit against a 2
  • If the 15 is made up of five or more cards, hits against a 3 and 4
  • If the 15 is made up of six cards, hit on a 5 or 6
  • Hard 16
  • If the dealer shows an Ace, then surrender
  • Hit against a 7 or higher
  • Hit against a 2 if the 16 is made up of five or more cards
  • Hit against a 3 or 4 if the 16 is made up of six cards
  • Hard 17
  • Surrender if the dealer is showing an Ace
  • If the dealer shows an 8, 9 or 10 then stand
  • If the 17 consists of six cards, then hit


  • Spanish 21 Basic Strategy - Soft Totals

    A player should always stand on a soft 19, 20 or 21. The following table should be used in other cases:

    Soft Totals What to do
    Soft 13,14,15
  • Always hit on these totals
  • Soft 16
  • Double down if a dealer is showing a 6
  • Hit if the 16 is made up of 4 or more cards
  • Soft 17
  • Hit against a 2,3 and 7 or higher
  • Double down against a 4 if the 17 consists of 2 cards
  • If the 17 is made up of 2 or 3 cards, double down against a 5
  • If the 17 is made up of 2,3 or 4 cards, double down against a 6
  • Soft 18
  • If the dealer is showing a 9, 10 or Ace, then hit
  • Stand against a 2,3, 7 or 8
  • Hit against 2,3 or 8 if the 17 is made up of four or more cards
  • Hit against a 7 if the 17 is made up of six or more cards
  • Double down against 4,5 or 6
  • Hit against a 4 when there are four or more cards
  • Hit against a 5 or 6 when there are five or more cards


  • Spanish 21 Basic Strategy - Splitting Pairs

    Aces should always be split and 4s, 5s or cards valued at 10 should never be split. The following table should be used in other cases:

    Splitting Pairs What to do
    Pair of 2's or 3's
  • Split if the dealer is showing a 3-7
  • Pair 6's
  • Split if the dealer is showing a 4-6
  • Pairs of 7's
  • Split against a 2-7
  • Pairs of 8's
  • Surrender if the dealer is showing an Ace
  • Split against all other cards
  • Pairs of 9's
  • Split when the dealer is showing 3-6, or 8 and 9
  • Summary

    Spanish 21 is an exciting spin on the already popular game of blackjack, providing extra bonuses and alternative rules. Ultimately with all these added extras, the removed 10s are compensated for, and the game is in turn more exhilarating. Once a player has learnt the basics of blackjack and is looking for the same challenges but with a bit more spice, then Spanish 21 is the game to try.

    Posted by CCJ Team

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