Differences Between Spanish 21 and Blackjack
Before looking at how the game is played, it is first worth pointing out the main differences to traditional Blackjack. The most striking difference is that the 10 cards are removed from the deck. This means that each deck has 48 cards, and most games are played with six or eight decks or cards.
The other important differences are as follows:
- Player Blackjack always wins, even if the dealer also has Blackjack
- If a player draws to 21, then the hand wins straightaway
- Double Down is available on any number of cards
- Surrender is available at any time, even after a Double Down
- Split Aces may be hit, re-split and Doubled.
Furthermore, there are special bonus payouts for specific hands, and these shall be explained later on.
How to Play Spanish 21
When it comes to the actual gameplay, Spanish 21 is very similar to regular Blackjack and it will not take you long to get the hang of it. As usual, the aim is to build a hand of cards that has a value closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand, but without going over 21, which is known as going bust.
Just like in traditional Blackjack, the number cards are worth their face values, the picture cards (Jack, Queen, and King) are worth 10, and Aces are worth 1 or 11. Therefore, it is possible to build a hand worth 21 with just two cards, and ace and a picture card. This is known as Blackjack and it is the best possible hand.
Once the bets have been placed, each player receives two face up cards while the dealer receives one face up and one face down. At this point, if a player has Blackjack then they are immediately paid out at 2:1. Furthermore, if the dealer’s face up card is an Ace, then players are offered Insurance, a side bet against the dealer having Blackjack. The side bet costs half of the initial bet and if the dealer does have Blackjack, it pays at 2:1.
If the dealer’s face up card is a picture card then they will also check for Blackjack, however; insurance isn’t offered. If the dealer then has Blackjack, then all players still in the hand lose. If the dealer does not have Blackjack, then the round continues. Players are given the following options:
- Hit – This means that the player requests another card. It is possible to hit until a player forms 21, a six-card Charlie (a six card hand worth 21 or less), or goes bust.
- Stand – This means that a player is happy with the hand and play moves on.
- Double Down – This means that a player doubles the bet, receives just one more card to the hand, and then play moves on. In nearly every other version of Blackjack, this is just allowed after the first two cards are dealt; however, in Spanish 21, it can be used at any time.
- Surrender – This gives players the option to abandon a hand in exchange for receiving half of the bet back. In Spanish 21, surrender is allowed on any number of cards, including after a Double Down.
- Split – If a player is dealt a pair then they are given the option of splitting them into two separate hands. This will double the bet and then each of the cards in the pair receives an additional card. Each hand is then played independently. In this version of Blackjack, a pair can be split up to four times and split aces may be re-split, hit, and doubled. Furthermore, surrender is allowed after splitting.
If a player forms 21 at any time then it is paid immediately. Once the players have finished, the dealer plays. The dealer stands on hard 17, 18, or higher and hits on soft 17, 16, or lower.
After the dealer is finished, winning hands are paid out. If the dealer’s hand has a higher value than the player, then the player loses. If the player has a higher value hand than the dealer, then it is paid at even money, except for in specific circumstances. If the player and dealer have hands of the same value but not 21, then the bet is returned as a push.
As mentioned, there are special payouts for some hands of 21; however, they are not awarded if the player has Doubled Down.
- A 21 of 6, 7 and 8 or three 7s pays at 3:2 if it is not suited.
- A 21 of 6, 7 and 8, or three 7s pays 2:1 when suited (excluding spades).
- A 21 of 6, 7 and 8, or with three 7s pays 3:1 when all spades.
- A five card 21 pays 3:2
- A six card 21 pays 2:1
- A seven card 21 pays 3:1
Spanish 21 Strategy
An advantage of playing Blackjack is that it is possible to reduce the house edge by following a mathematical strategy. Because there are no 10 cards in Spanish 21, the strategy is quite different to other Blackjack games. However, it is still easy enough to follow.
A hard hand is one that does not contain an Ace or a hand in which the Ace counts as 1. If you have a hard hand then you should do the following:
- If your hand is worth 4 up to 8 then you should always Hit.
- If your hand is worth 9, Double Down if the dealer is showing a 6, otherwise Hit.
- If your hand is worth 10, Double Down if the dealer is showing anything from 2 to 8, otherwise, Hit.
- If your hand is worth 11, always Double Down.
- If your hand is worth 12, always Hit.
- If your hand is worth 13, Stand if the dealer is showing 6, otherwise, Hit.
- If your hand is worth 14, Stand if the dealer is showing 4, 5 or 6, otherwise, Hit.
- If your hand is worth 15, Stand if the dealer is showing anything from 2 to 6, otherwise, hit.
- If your hand is worth 16, Stand if the dealer is showing anything from 2 to 6, Surrender if the dealer shows an Ace, otherwise, Hit.
- If your hand is worth 17, Surrender if the dealer is showing an Ace, otherwise, Hit.
- If your hand is worth 18 or more, always Stand.
A soft hand is one that contains an Ace that can be worth either 1 or 11. If you have a soft hand then you should do the following:
- If your hand is worth soft 13 or soft 14, always Hit.
- If your hand is worth soft 15, Double Down if the dealer is showing a 6, otherwise, Hit.
- If your hand is worth soft 16, Double Down if the dealer is showing anything from a 5 or 6, otherwise, Hit.
- If your hand is worth soft 17, Double Down if the dealer is showing anything from 4 to 6, otherwise, Hit.
- If your hand is worth soft 18, Stand if the dealer is showing 2, 3, 7 or 8, Double Down if the dealer is showing anything from 4 to 6, otherwise, Hit.
- If your hand is worth soft 19 or soft 20, always Stand.
If the first two cards dealt to you have the same value then they are a pair. If you have a pair then you should do the following:
- A pair of 2s or 3s: Split if the dealer is showing anything from 2 to 8, otherwise, Hit.
- A pair of 4s or 5s: Never Split
- A pair of 6s: Split if the dealer is showing anything from 4 to 6, otherwise, Hit.
- A pair of 7s: Split if the dealer is showing anything from 2 to 7, otherwise, Hit.
- A pair of 8s: Always Split, unless the dealer is showing an Ace, in which case Surrender.
- A pair of 9s: Stand if the dealer is showing 2, 7, 10 or Ace, otherwise Split.
- A pair of Face cards: always Stand.
- A pair of Aces: Always Split.
Changes to Strategy after Hitting
If you have Hit, then the strategy changes. This is because of the payouts for winning 21 hands and six-cards Charlie hands.
After hitting on a hard hand, you should do the following:
- 10: Hit against a dealer 8 with three cards, 7 with four cards, and 2 and 3 with five cards
- 11: Hit with three cards against a dealer 10 or ace, four cards against 2, 7, 8, and 9, and five cards against 3 through 6
- 13: Hit against a dealer 6 with four or more cards
- 14: Hit against a dealer 4 with four cards and on 5 cards against 5 and 6 cards
- 15: Hit against a dealer 2 with four cards and against a dealer 13 through 15 with five cards
- 16: Hit against a dealer 2 through 4 with six cards
- 17: Hit against a dealer 8, 9, or 10 with six cards
After hitting on a soft hand, you should do the following:
- Soft 15: Hit against a dealer 6 with four cards
- Soft 16: Hit against a dealer 5 with three cards and 6 with four cards
- Soft 17: Hit against a dealer 4 with three cards, 5 with four cards, and 6 with five cards
- Soft 18: Hit on four cards against a dealer 2 through 4 and 8 with five cards against 6 and 7
- Soft 19 and 20: Always hit with 5 cards
Spanish 21 is a hugely enjoyable game that offers the chance of some huge winnings. While it may take a little time to get used to if you generally play regular Blackjack, after reading this guide, you should now be set to start playing straightaway.