blackjack variation

How to Play Spanish 21: Rules, Odds & Basic Strategy

Do you like playing Blackjack? Then you should definitely try out Spanish 21, which is a variation to the classic game. Aside from the original Blackjack, it’s one of the most popular versions, and you might have also heard that you have a higher edge from the casino.

The rules to Spanish 21 are slightly different from the classic game. Spanish 21 uses 6 or 8 decks of cards (all the tens are removed), so that each deck contains only 48 cards, which some people believe gives the dealer an advantage.

It is believed that the first game of Spanish 21 took place at one of the casinos in Vegas sometime in 1995 and has expanded to other countries outside of the U.S., such as Malaysia and Australia (some of the rules for this game are different in these countries). Although some of the rules are different from the original version, the overall objective remains the same. In order to win, you must reach a score as close as possible to 21 by beating the dealer’s hand without going over 21. The value of the cards remain the same as the original version. Continue reading below for more information on how to play Spanish 21 and learn about the rules, strategies as well as the odds to the game.

Spanish 21 Rules

First of all, Spanish 21 is played on the same table as Blackjack, but includes 6 or 8 traditional decks of cards with all the tens being taken out, therefore each deck has only 48 cards instead of the original 52. Assuming you’re already familiar with the original version, below you’ll learn some of the important Spanish 21 Rules as well as how the game is played overall.

  • Super Bonus – is one of the rules that probably stands out the most. What happens is, if you get a blackjack hand that includes three sevens with the same suit versus a 7 in which the dealer has, you automatically win a big bonus award. Your prize amount will vary depending on your initial bet. For example, if you bet anywhere from $5 to $24, you can win $1,000, and if you made a bet of $25 or more, you can win $5,000. The chances of getting a Super Bonus is somewhere around 1 in 668,382 or 549,11, depending if you’re using 6 or 8 decks of cards.
  • Pair Splitting – is when you create up to 4 hands by splitting any cards that have the same value as each other. You can even hit and double on any of the split hands, however you don’t have the possibility of winning a Super Bonus if you do this.
  • Doubling Down – you have the chance to double down for two or more cards and can make any bet as long as it’s not bigger than the initial one.
  • Doubling Down Rescue – is a unique rule in which you are able to pull back your bet from the double down in case you’re not happy with your hand, as long as you don’t go over 21. If this move is made, you will lose your initial bet.
  • Late Surrender – is another unique rule where if you’re not satisfied with the initial two cards you’re dealt, you are able to surrender your hand. By doing so, you will lose half of your initial bet. This is a special rule for Spanish 21 which improves the player’s odds.


Spanish 21 Strategy

Now that you understand the rules of the game, let’s go ahead and go over a Spanish 21 Strategy that can help lower the house edge before you start playing online, or even gambling with real money at one of the land based casinos.

First of all, if you have a hand that is worth 18 or more points, it’s best that you stick with it and do not “hit”. You should also stand when you have a soft 19, 20 or 21. If you are dealt two Aces, be sure to split them, and not split fours, fives or tens. Also, you shouldn’t make a draw for the bonus payouts or any side bets in which you have to pay extra for. In regards to surrendering, try not to do this too much. There are not many situations in which you can make a profit out of surrendering. If you’re holding cards that are worth 10 points, it’s a good idea to go ahead and request another card (or hit).


Spanish 21 Odds

Aside from the basic rules and strategies of the game, you should also know the Spanish 21 odds. At most of the casinos you’ll find that the house edge weighs in at about 0.8%, which makes this version one of the highest house advantages. The original Blackjack house edge is somewhere around 0.5%, however different rules can have an impact on the edge. For example, the house edge when playing with 8 card decks is around 0.38%, whereas playing with six decks is around 0.8%.


Overall, Spanish 21 is an awesome variation to the highly famed classic game of Blackjack. If you enjoy playing the original version, you must give this one a try.  Before you do, make sure you fully understand the rules, strategies and get some practice in beforehand, especially if you plan on playing with real money. Most importantly, have fun!

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