While it isn’t always easy to find a Spanish 21 table, if you do find one on your next trip to the casino, you are going to want to sit down! Spanish 21 looks and plays very similar to normal blackjack, except that there are TONS of player-friendly rules.
In this article:
We are going to tell you what Spanish 21 is and how to play it properly. More than any other blackjack-based game, knowing the proper strategy for how to play Spanish 21 is very important, as players have lots of options available that you aren’t going to find on a standard BJ table.
Spanish 21 certainly looks a lot like blackjack, but if you don’t adjust your strategy when playing the game, you are going to miss out on a lot of value. We will kick things off by telling you a little bit about how Spanish 21 is played, before then getting to our tips on how to play Spanish 21. Let’s get started!
What Is Spanish 21?
Spanish 21 is a blackjack-based game that plays very similarly to a standard blackjack game. There are lots of quirks to Spanish 21 that players love and very few downsides, making Spanish 21 an attractive game for both new and veteran blackjack players.
Similarities Between Blackjack and Spanish 21
If you didn’t know any differently, you might think that these games are the same if you are just passing by. The game is dealt the exact same with all players getting two cards face up to start the hand, and the dealer getting one card face up and one card down.
Players get to choose whether to hit, stand, or double down, with the dealer acting last after all players have made their decisions. Just like a normal blackjack game, a dealer will hit on 16, stand on hard 17, and hit soft 17 and the name of the game is to get the closest to 21 without going over.
If you have spent any amount of time at all at a blackjack table, you are going to instantly feel comfortable at a Spanish 21 table as the gameplay is going to be quite familiar. But once you start to see all the additions to the game, you will quickly see why so many players prefer Spanish 21 over standard blackjack.
Differences Between Blackjack and Spanish 21
First, let’s start with the one major difference that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves. Spanish 21 uses a deck of just 48 cards, rather than a standard 52-card deck.
All of the tens are removed and while most players don’t see this as being a house-friendly rule, it absolutely is, as the fewer tens that are in the deck, the less the chances are that players will be dealt blackjack and the smaller the chance is that the dealer will bust their hand. This seemingly small change sways the house advantage about 2% towards the casino, which is significant when you look at a standard blackjack game’s hold which can be as low as 1% based on optimal play and strategy.
But the inventors of Spanish 21 knew they had a couple of percentage points to play with, and they made sure to tweak the game in other ways to make up for the added house advantage.
Player Friendly Rules
The way that the creators of Spanish 21 made up for taking all of the tens out of the deck was by adding in a bunch of extremely player-friendly rules. We will list some of those below.
Doubling down at any time
Doubling after a double
Splitting hands up to 4 times each, including aces
The ability to surrender and get half your bet back, even after a double
Players get paid out immediately if they get a blackjack or 21
5-card 21 pays 3-2, 6-card 21 pays 2-1, and a 7-card 21 pays 3-1
A 3-card 21 that features all suited 7s pays out $1,000 on top of your bet
Any player that is used to playing normal blackjack is likely reading this list and salivating, as these are some really juicy add-ons.
Depending on who’s math you believe, these adjustments actually make Spanish 21 a more player-friendly game than normal blackjack, with a house advantage of under half a percent if played perfectly.
Now that you know what blackjack and Spanish 21 have in common and where they differ, it’s time to get into how to play Spanish 21 properly! Here are our top 5 tips for how to play Spanish 21!
How To Play Spanish 21
In this final section we are to answer the question all of you out there have on your mind, how do you play Spanish 21? Here are TheSportsGeek’s top-5 tips for how to play Spanish 21!
Double Down, A Lot
Being able to double down in more spots is by far the most attractive rule for Spanish 21 players.
Most typical blackjack games only allow you to double down on your first two cards, and nowadays, many of the games you are going to find outside of the high limit room will only allow you to double on 10 or 11. If you are in a good spot to double down, you need to take advantage of it every time.
Being able to add to your bet after you see so much of the hand play out is huge when it comes to your long-term win rate.
You can even double after you double!
For example, let’s say that you have a 2-card 8 against the dealer’s 6. That is a juicy spot for a double and you are going to want to press your bet. But what happens if you double down and draw a 3, giving you an 11?
If you were playing normal blackjack:
You would just have to accept your weak hand and pray for the dealer to bust. But that isn’t the case in Spanish 21, as not only can you take an additional card after you hit, but you can also double your bet again!
If you have the best of it, you need to find a way to get the most money on the layout as possible, so make sure that you are doubling down, a lot!
Surrender If Your Double Goes Wrong
We just talked about how you want to be very aggressive with doubling down when playing Spanish 21, as the ability to double down in so many spots is a huge advantage for the player. But when you are being so aggressive with your doubles, you have to also make sure that you aren’t going overboard.
The best way to accomplish this is by using the surrender option if you catch a brick on your double.
For example, if you have an 11 and double down and get a 3, instead of hoping that the dealer busts and you backdoor into a winner, just take your lumps, surrender, and get half of your bet back.
The best part about Spanish 21 is that you get to make more informed decisions than typical blackjack.
Sometimes, even though you have all the info that you need to make a good decision, things don’t work out the way that you wanted. If you find yourself in a spot where you don’t like your hand, swallow your ego, and take the built-in escape clause, and surrender to live to fight another day.
Don’t Take Insurance, Ever
Insurance is an awful bet. Only suckers take insurance in blackjack, and in Spanish 21, it is an even worse bet! In Spanish 21, all of the tens are taken out of the deck, which makes it that much harder for the dealer to have a blackjack when they have an ace showing, as there just aren’t as many cards that are worth ten left in the deck.
Stay Away From Insurance:
Yet, despite the significantly lower odds of the dealer having a blackjack, insurance pays the same on Spanish 21 as it does at a blackjack table. If you were to true up the odds on Spanish 21 insurance it would need to pay out at least 3-1, and with it paying only 2-1, it is a bet you want to avoid at all costs.
The house advantage for Spanish 21 can be lower than 1% if played well. The house advantage on an insurance bet in Spanish 21? A whopping 25%! Save your money and leave the insurance bet alone!
Don’t Chase A 7-Card 21
One of the fun additions to Spanish 21 is that a 5-card, 6-card, and 7-card 21 pays out higher than a normal 21. Those are tough hands to make and it’s great that the casino pays you more when you make them.
But you have to be very careful to not chase them.
The casino can pay out that extra money because those hands are hard to hit. And if you find yourself making a bad decision on a hand, just to try and go for those slightly larger payouts, it is going to hurt you more than it is going to help you in the long run.
This is particularly true with the 7-card 21, as that hand is remarkably hard to make, and when you start reaching to get there, it is going to really hurt your win rate. If you happen to back into one of these higher paying 21’s, great!
But let them come naturally, and don’t push on them too hard as you are going to turn a potentially winning hand into a loser in a hurry!
Make Sure You Hit Aces After You Split
At a normal blackjack table, when you split aces, the house only allows you to receive one card per ace. Sometimes you get face cards on both hands and make a pair of 21s, which is awesome, but other times you pull cards like deuces or treys and are stuck with bad hands.
But when you are playing Spanish 21, you can hit those split hands as many times as you want!
If you get another ace, you can split it again, up to 4 total splits. Not only can you keep splitting and hitting, but you can even double down after a split! If the dealer has a bust card showing and you are sitting on a hand like a soft 12, there are tons of cards that improve your hand, and doubling after a split can be a high value play if used correctly.
The main reason that you are going to struggle to find a Spanish 21 table these days is because the game is just too player-friendly for savvy players. The casino doesn’t make nearly as much money from these games as they do on a standard blackjack game, and for that reason, these Spanish 21 games have been pulled from many casino floors.
But there is one place where you are nearly guaranteed to find a Spanish 21 table, and that is online!
Online casinos have much better game selection options and finding a Spanish 21 game online is very easy. And now that you have these top tips for how to play Spanish 21, you are ready to get in on the action and win a bunch of cash!
Before you log in to try your luck at Spanish 21, make sure that you swing by TheSportsGeek’s best blackjack sites page, where we bring our readers exclusive offers at all of the top online casinos!
There you will find deposit matches, sign-on bonuses, and more and you don’t want to miss out on all of that free cash! Thank you for reading and good luck playing Spanish 21!
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