Spanish 21 is an increasingly popular variant of blackjack owned by Masque Publishing, Inc. “Unlicensed” (but equivalent) versions may be called Spanish blackjack.Spanish 21 uses the following rules:
- The game is played with six or eight decks dealt from a shoe. Each deck is a standard poker deck with the tens (but not face cards) removed, hence the name: a traditional Spanish deck consists of four sets of 1 through 9, a Jack, a Knight and a King; there are no tens. All cards have the same values as in blackjack.
- Blackjack pays 3:2.
- Hitting, standing, and splitting all follow the same rules as in blackjack, except drawing to split aces is allowed. Resplitting is also allowed.
- The player may surrender on the first two cards or after doubling down.
- The dealer always checks for blackjack with a face card showing before play continues, as in American blackjack games.
- The player may double down on any total, even after taking hit cards.
- In some casinos, the player may redouble after doubling down.
- A total of 21 always wins for the player. It never pushes against the dealer’s 21.
- A five-card 21 pays 3:2, a six-card 21 pays 2:1, and a 21 with seven or more cards pays 3:1. However, these bonus payouts do not apply if the 21 was the result of doubling.
- 6-7-8 of mixed suits pays 3:2, of the same suit pays 2:1, and of spades pays 3:1.
- Suited 7-7-7 against a dealer 7 pays a large bonus (for example, $1000 for bets $5-24 and $5000 for bets $25 and over). All other players at the table receive a $50 “envy bonus”. This rule does not apply after splitting.
- In most casinos, dealer hits soft 17.
The removal of the tens in each deck favors the dealer, however, the other additional rules all favor the player (except for dealer hitting soft 17), and usually result in a low house edge, often lower than traditional blackjack.
There are no popular card counting methods in Spanish 21, though it would likely generate less scrutiny. Of course, any counting system applied must account for the fewer ten-point cards in the shoe.
- Spanish 21 – the official website
- Wizard of Odds strategies for Spanish 21