Spanish 21 Blackjack – Strategy, Rules, Tips and Free game to play

Spanish 21 BlackjackSpanish 21 blackjack is one of the most widespread and popular blackjack variations globally. Its rules are pretty straightforward, and even complete beginners can easily learn the basics. This is due to it being akin to the classic blackjack game. However, it also has its own rules and subtleties, which makes it unique and exciting.

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Spanish 21 Blackjack Basics

This is what the basic structure of Spanish 21 blackjack looks like:

  • The game is played between the dealer and 1 to 7 players.
  • The game objective is to create a hand as close as possible to 21 without busting.
  • To begin the hand, the player receives two cards face-up, whereas the dealer receives one card face-down and the other face-up.
  • Each jack, king, and the queen is worth 10.
  • Cards from 2 to 9 are counted at their face value.
  • An ace counts as 1 or 11.

However, there are some key differences when compared to the classic blackjack variant:

  • The game is played with 6–8 Spanish decks of cards, each containing 48 cards.
  • The Spanish deck doesn’t have any 10-value cards.
  • A player’s 21 always beats the dealer’s 21.
  • A player’s blackjack beats the dealer’s blackjack and pays 3:2.

How to Play Spanish 21 Blackjack

After the first hand is dealt, the player has several options to try and win. They can:

  • Stand: If a player stands, they are satisfied with their hand total and don’t want to be dealt any additional cards.
  • Hit: If a player thinks their hand is weak, they may hit and take additional cards. They can do it as many times as they want until they’ve reached a satisfactory hand, not exceeding 21.
  • Double down: A player who holds a strong hand can opt to double down. That also means that the player can make another wager, equal to or smaller than the initial one. Either way, there is a table minimum requirement that this double bet must meet. In Spanish 21, players can recover the doubled portion of their bet if they are not satisfied with the outcome of their non-busted hand.
  • Split: If you are dealt a pair of matching cards — for example, two 8s — you can split them into two separate hands. To do it, you must make another wager that matches your original one. Upon splitting, you have to take actions on both hands individually. It is essential to complete these actions before moving on to the second hand. Spanish 21 allows players to split cards of equal value to up to four hands; hitting and doubling of split hands is also possible.
  • Surrender: If the dealer’s card is a K, Q, or J, the dealer must check if they have a blackjack. The player can surrender if the dealer does not have it, or if they are dissatisfied with their hand. Otherwise, they are not allowed to do it. When using this option, a player gets back half of their bet.
  • Insurance: If the dealer’s face-up card is an ace, a player can opt for insurance, which can be taken for half of their original wager. When the dealer’s hand is 21, the player gets a 2:1 payout after taking the insurance bet.

When all the players have completed their actions, the dealer reveals their hole card and compares their hand to the players’.

  • The dealer must stand if their hand total is 17 or higher.
  • The player wins if their hand is closer to 21 than the dealer’s.
  • Players lose if the dealer has a hand closer to 21.
  • In the event of a push — when the hands are equal but below 21 — the player’s bet is returned.

How Spanish 21 Is Different from Regular Blackjack

Although blackjack is a classic game and has been around for a long time, its Spanish relative was first introduced to land-based casinos in 1995. It combines the thrill of blackjack with the additional rules that make the game more exciting. Spanish 21 is played similarly to regular blackjack but provides more chances to win. However, there are some considerable differences:

  • There are no 10s in the Spanish 21 deck.
  • There are bonus payouts for certain hands with a total of 21 unless the player doubles down.
  • It is possible to double down on any number of cards.
  • A player may surrender at any time, even after doubling down. The process is called double down rescue.
  • Spanish 21 blackjack features a slightly better house edge.

Spanish 21 Blackjack Rules

We have already mentioned that Spanish 21 uses 6 to 8 decks, but that varies from casino to casino.

The removal of 10s from the decks swings the odds in the dealer’s favor. Spanish 21 compensates for this by offering bonuses and favorable rules to players. Even though you may come across various Spanish 21 games, these are the standard rules:

  • Players can hit, stand, or split (upon receiving a pair) any time after placing their wagers and receiving the initial hand.
  • A player’s blackjack always beats the dealer’s blackjack. When a player’s hand total is 21, it wins instantly.
  • Late surrender is possible, even on the initial two cards.
  • Players are allowed to split the aces and resplit, double, and re-double upon splitting any pairs.
  • Spanish 21 features the Match the Dealer side bet.
  • This blackjack variation offers a Super Bonus (when the player holds a hand of three suited 7s and the dealer draws 7 of any suit.)

Players should also be aware of some rules that vary from casino to casino:

  • Some of them will let you double down up to 3 times.
  • After you split your hand, some won’t pay you the bonus amount.
  • In certain casinos, the dealer can choose to stand or hit on soft 17.

Basic Rules Relating to Payouts on Wins

Players are paid differently based on the number of cards that form their winning hand. These are the basic rules when it comes to payouts on wins:

  • Player blackjack pays out 3:2.
  • A player total of 21 pays out 3:1.
  • Insurance pays out 2:1.

However, in Spanish 21, players also have additional ways to win. This includes Bonus 21 and Super Bonus payout, provided that their hands meet specific criteria.

Return-to-Player Percentages

The house edge depends on a casino’s rules. Below, you will see how some standard rules influence the house edge:

  • If the dealer stands on soft 17: 0.40%
  • If the dealer hits on soft 17 and redoubling is permitted: 0.42%
  • If the dealer hits on soft 17 and redoubling is not permitted: 0.76%.

Spanish 21 Blackjack Strategy

Spanish 21 is considered the most lucrative variation of the game, provided that you follow the right strategy. Luckily, you can download a cheat sheet that could help you make the right choices. There are similarities with the basic blackjack strategy; however, if you study it closely, you’ll be able to notice a few differences.

Strategy Charts for Spanish 21 Blackjack

The following blackjack charts illustrate the strategy used when playing Spanish 21 blackjack. First, we’ll outline when the dealer hits on soft 17. Afterward, we will focus on when they stand on soft 17.

Dealer Hits on Soft 17
Player Dealer’s cards
HARD 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
4–8 H H H H H H H H H H
9 H H H H D H H H H H
10 D5 D5 D5 D D D4 D3 H H H
11 D4 D5 D5 D5 D5 D4 D4 D4 D3 D3
12 H H H H H H H H H H
13 H H H H S4* H H H H H
14 H H S4* S5’ S6’’ H H H H H
15 S4* S5’ S6 S6 S H H H H H
16 S6 S6 S6 S S H H H H RH
17 S S S S S S S6 S6 S6 RH
18–21 S S S S S S S S S S
SOFT 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
12–14 H H H H H H H H H H
15 H H H H D4 H H H H H
16 H H H D3 D4 H H H H H
17 H H D3 D4 D5 H H H H H
18 S4 S4 D4 D5 D6 S6 S4 H H H
19 S S S S S S S S S6 S6
PAIR 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
2,2 P P P P P P P H H H
3,3 P P P P P P P H H H
6,6 H H P P P H H H H H
7,7 P P P P P$ H H H H H
8,8 P P P P P P P P P R
9,9 S P P P P S P P S S
A,A P P P P P P P P P P

In the charts above and below, the terms represent the following:

H — Hit S4 — stand, except hit with 4 or more cards D3 — double, except hit with 3 or more cards
S — Stand S5 — stand, except hit with 5 or more cards D4 — double, except hit with 4 or more cards
P — Split P$ — split, except hit with suited sevens D5 — double, except hit with 5 or more cards
R — Surrender S6 — stand, except hit with 6 or more cards * — hit if any 6–7–8 is possible
D — Double RH — surrender if allowed, otherwise hit — hit if suited or spaded 6–7–8 is possible
‘’ — hit if spaded 6–7–8 is possible
Dealer Stands on Soft 17
Player Dealer’s cards
HARD 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
4–8 H H H H H H H H H H
9 H H H H D4 H H H H H
10 D5 D5 D D D D4 D3 H H H
11 D4 D5 D5 D5 D5 D4 D4 D4 D3 D3
12 H H H H H H H H H H
13 H H H H H H H H H H
14 H H S4* S5* S4* H H H H H
15 S4* S5* S5’’ S6 S6’’ H H H H H
16 S5 S6 S6 S S H H H H H
17 S S S S S S S6 S6 S6 RH
18–21 S S S S S S S S S S
SOFT 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
12–15 H H H H H H H H H H
16 H H H H D4 H H H H H
17 H H D3 D4 D5 H H H H H
18 S4 S4 D4 D5 D5 S6 S4 H H H
19–21 S S S S S S S S S6 S
PAIR 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
2,2 P P P P P P P H H H
3,3 P P P P P P P H H H
6,6 H H P P P H H H H H
7,7 P P P P P P$ H H H H
8,8 P P P P P P P P P P
9,9 S P P P P S P P S S
A,A P P P P P P P P P P

Top Tips for Spanish 21 Blackjack

It is advisable to draw more often in this blackjack variation, especially when playing with 8 decks. Even though all the 10s are out of the deck, the risk of busting is lower. It doesn’t mean you should go overboard when drawing, but you can request additional cards more freely than in classic blackjack.

Even though the insurance bet is one of the worst wagers to take in classic blackjack, you can place it in Spanish 21. Even though all 10s are out of the deck, it still pays 2:1. Thus, the dealer has a lower chance of getting a blackjack.

Also, you should avoid Match the Dealer side bet in Spanish 21. Although the odds ranging from 4:1 to 18:1 are attractive, the house edge is significant (3.99% for 8-deck games and 3.06% for 6-deck games).

In Spanish 21, low cards are your friend. When playing 5-card and 6-card hands, you get 3:2 and 2:1 payouts. Therefore, splitting is recommended when holding low pairs. The player should also continue hitting on two separate hands.