What Is Spanish 21?

Nathan Bennett
Nathan Bennett
6 Min Read

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Have you ever wondered where the original blackjack ruleset came from? Well, its origins are shared by multiple countries that caused the game to develop to the modern standard we know it as today. However, another variation developed alongside modern blackjack alluding to its Spanish roots. Spanish 21 is one of the blackjack alternatives, though less common than the base game..

It is worth trying out Spanish 21 due to its player-friendly ruleset and an interesting take on the modern game. Let us take a look at how the game is played, its benefits, and all the variations it has compared to modern blackjack.

Spanish 21 Explained

Spanish 21 follows the basic principles of blackjack where you need to collect a higher value of cards in your hand than the dealer without going over 21. The basic strategy is similar. However, there are certain variations in Spanish 21 that dramatically alter the flow of the game.

The main difference is that all 10s are removed while the picture cards remain. This means that the chances of hitting a blackjack are reduced. Additionally, this goes hand in hand with the next variation which is that all player blackjacks are victories. Even in the cases where the dealer also has a blackjack. So, the chances of blackjack are reduced but each player blackjack wins automatically no matter what. These two changes increase the player’s victory percentage overall.

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Furthermore, players have the option to surrender. This player feature allows the player to end the round and receive half of his bet back. A much more effective strategy than playing a bad hand and losing your entire wager. Players can only do this after the dealer has checked his cards for a blackjack.

Betting Options and Payouts

When it comes to betting options the doubling down mechanic is the crucial one to scoring high payouts. The reason why doubling down is so strong in Spanish 21 is that you can do it in the following ways that are different to regular blackjack. You can double down after any number of cards and you can double down after splitting.

  • Double Down Option 1 – The former feature where you can double down after any number of cards are drawn is a massive change to standard blackjack. Normally you can only double down after your first two cards. With this option, you can draw something like a 3, 4, and 5, and still double down. This is a great strategy to combat those low-value card strings.
  • Double Down Option 2 – You can double down after splitting in Spanish 21 which opens up a slew of other options. Now when you split those aces, you can continue to double them both down and score amazing payouts potentially.

Additionally, there are special payouts in Spanish 21 that depend on the card combination you win with. As opposed to the standard 1:1 and 3:2 payout in blackjack, Spanish 21 has seven different payouts. If you score a 21 with 5 cards you receive a 3:2 payout similar to the base game. If you score it with 6 and 7 cards you get a 2:1 and 3:1 respectively. Furthermore, if you get 21 with the 6-7-8 card combination or a 7-7-7 you will receive the standard 3:2 as a reward for doing it with 3 cards. Finally, you get a 2:1 and 3:1 payout if either of those cards are suited or if one of them is a spade.

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Is Spanish 21 Worth Playing Besides Blackjack?

The short answer is that it has more rules that are player friendly so some would say yes. These player-centric rules and following the basic strategy reduce the house edge from blackjack’s 4.5% to a 0.4%. This coupled with the fact that in Spanish 21 player 21s always win is a great boost for the player.

However, there are of course drawbacks. First off due to the removal of 10-value cards players score 21 with more difficulty. Moreover, standard blackjack is so popular that you will find Spanish 21 on rare occasions. This makes the game highly inaccessible in land-based casinos. The only way to reliably play it, other than getting lucky that the casino you frequent has this game, is playing it online.

All in all, both Spanish 21 and Blackjack originated from the same ancestor ruleset. They are both worth playing side by side whenever you feel like switching things up. One thing we’ll say is that in Spanish 21, you will never get that bitter feeling of scoring a 21 alongside the dealer and pushing.


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