When playing blackjack at an online casino or browsing the range of games available at a traditional casino, you may have come across a game called Spanish 21. This is an exciting game that’s similar to blackjack, but different enough to offer gamblers a new experience.
Read on to discover all you need to know about Spanish 21, including its rules, bonus payouts, and side bets,as well as tips and strategies to help you win.
What Is Spanish 21?
Spanish 21 is a blackjack variant owned by game publisher Masque Publishing Inc. At a glance, Spanish 21 may look similar to blackjack, but once you dive deeper into the Spanish 21 rules, you’ll discover that there are quite a few differences that make this variant of the much-loved game stand out. In some sense, Spanish 21 is simply a variant of blackjack, much like Omaha, Seven Card Stud and Texas Hold’em are all variants of poker.
The Rules of Spanish 21
Here’s how to play Spanish 21. The goal is the same as in classic blackjack. The player must try to get a hand worth more than the dealer’s but without going over 21. The player can choose to hit (receive another card) or stand (declare that you don’t want any more cards). You win when you get a hand that’s equal to 21, if the dealer busts (goes over 21) or if the final value of your hand is greater than the value of the dealer’s hand. You lose if the dealer’s hand is worth more than yours, if the dealer has a natural 21 (an ace and a face card) and you don’t, or if the total value of your hand exceeds 21.
In a game of Spanish 21, the dealer must hit on 16 and stand on 17 — just as in traditional blackjack. Some establishments that run Spanish 21 allow for hitting on a soft 17.
In a situation where you and the dealer both have a hand of the same value, it’s considered a tie (also known as a push.) When this happens, the player gets back the money they bet. If both the dealer and player get 21, the player wins.
Up until this point, you may think you’re just playing regular blackjack, but there are differences between Spanish 21 and blackjack. To start, in Spanish 21 the 10s are removed from the deck. This leaves players with pip cards 2–9 (valued at their respective pips,) the jack, queen, and king (all valued at 10,) and the ace (valued at 1 or 11.)
The removal of the 10 affects the house edge, placing it at approximately between 0.40% and 0.80%. In blackjack, the house edge can go as low as 0.20%, but can go as high as 1.40%, depending on the rules that are in effect.
Another rule that is similar to blackjack is splitting. In Spanish 21, however, players can split up to a maximum of four times, with the option to double after each split.
Another rule that is not commonly known (just like these little-known poker variants) but implemented in some versions of blackjack, is surrendering. In blackjack, players can surrender after they’ve seen their first two cards. This means they give up half their bet to start a new game. In Spanish 21, a player can surrender when the dealer doesn’t have 21 and will also give up half of their wager to end the current game. However, surrendering does not apply if a dealer has a natural 21.
Bonus Payouts and Side Bets
Spanish 21 also has a number of exciting bonus payouts. The bonus payouts occur under the following conditions:
- The player’s hand consists of 6, 7, and 8. The bonus payout odds for this win are +150.
- The player’s hand consists of three 7s. The bonus payout odds for this win are +150.
- The player’s hand consists of three 7s, and the dealer also has a 7. If the player wagered between $5 and $24, the Super Bonus payout is $1000. If the player wagered more than $25, the Super Bonus payout is $5000. All the other players in the game will receive $50.
- The player’s hand consists of five cards that equal 21. The bonus payout odds for this win are +150.
- The player’s hand consists of six cards that equal 21. The bonus payout odds for this win are +200.
- The player’s hand consists of seven cards that equal 21. The bonus payout odds for this win are +300.
There are some side bets as well. These include:
- The “Match the Dealer” side bet in which the player wagers that his cards will match the rank and value of the dealer’s cards. The payouts vary depending on the conditions that are met.
- The “Insurance” side bet in which the player can buy “insurance”. The player can place half of their original wager on this side bet and if they’re correct, it pays out 2:1. This side bet pays out if the dealer has an ace that is part of a natural blackjack. This effectively protects the player against an immediate loss.
Spanish 21 Tips and Strategy
Now that the rules of Spanish 21 have been explained, here are some Spanish 21 tips that you can incorporate into your Spanish 21 strategy.
1. Don’t Surrender Every Time You’re Unsure
If you’re still learning the game and don’t have a strategy chart guiding you on optimal decision-making, it may be tempting to surrender every time you’re unsure of what to do. However, it’s important to learn the game, even if that means experiencing a few losses. Surrendering at every chance means you won’t gain the valuable experience that comes with taking calculated risks.
Playing out some of the hands that you’re unsure of will help you learn when you should hit and when you should stay, even if you experience more losses while still you’re learning the game.
2. Know When To Split
If done correctly, splitting can increase your chances of winning. But you first need to know when to split. Here are some instances where you should consider splitting:
- When you have a pair of aces.
- When you have a pair of 2s or 3s and the dealer has 2 to 8. Hit if the dealer has 9 or more.
- When you have a pair of 6s and the dealer has 4 to 6. Hit if the dealer has seven or more.
- When you have a pair of 7s and the dealer has 2 to 7. Hit if the dealer has 8 or more.
- When you have a pair of 8s, you always split. Surrender if the dealer has an ace.
- When you have a pair of 9s and the dealer has 3 to 6 or 8 or 9. Stand if the dealer has any other cards.
- Never split with 4s and 5s.
- Never split with a pair of 10s.
3. Take More Risks Since You’re Less Likely to Bust
In Spanish 21, it’s safer to hit more often since the four 10s have been removed from the deck. Yes, there are still the face cards that are worth 10, but overall, you are less likely to come across a card that’s worth 10 and go bust.
4. Avoid the Side Bets
Just as in blackjack, you should stick to the base game and avoid the Match the Dealer and Insurance side bets. This will improve your win rate in the long run, even if you lose out on some potentially big wins in the short term.
5. Follow a Spanish 21 Strategy Chart
If you’re still struggling to come to grips with the game, there’s one final tip that you can follow that will make the game even easier to play. Just as in blackjack, players can take advantage of a strategy chart that compares the dealer’s upcard to your hand and advises you on whether you should hit, stand or surrender. It’s very easy to follow and makes it a must for any beginner. Over time, it will become second nature on what you should do and when.
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