Spanish 21 is a variation of traditional blackjack. The first thing that is different is the cards used in the game. A “Spanish deck” is a traditional deck of 52 cards with the four 10 cards removed for a deck total of 48. This moves the advantage squarely in the dealer’s court. Why would anyone play Spanish 21 then? To make up for the house edge, the casino offers some other great temptations to the player.
First, some of the shared rules between traditional blackjack and Spanish 21 include the dealer’s obligation to hit and stay based on the 17 rule. Again, depending on the casino, a dealer may “stay” on a soft 17 (S17) and some may allow the dealer to hit on a soft 17 (S17). Look at the individual casino tables for a notation of which version you are playing at. Rules for “hitting”, “staying”, “splitting” and “doubling” are the same in Spanish 21 as in traditional.
Also, a blackjack will always win for the player, even if the dealer also has blackjack. This is a unique advantage in Spanish 21 over traditional blackjack.
Some of the great perks that the game tries to compensate players for losing their four 10s include great payouts. For example, if you take seven or more cards to total 21 points, you are paid out 3:1 on your wager. Take six cards and get 21 and you are paid 2:1; a five-card 21 pays 3:2.
A “super bonus” is won when a player has a suited 7-7-7 and the dealer draws a 7. Bets less than $25 get a $1000 super bonus, and bets over $25 get a $5000 super bonus. What’s more, all the other players get a $50 “Envy Bonus”! Now the super bonus is obviously tough to get, but some of the other bonus opportunities are more possible.
Reach 21 holding 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 and you will get a bonus. If you are holding a mixed suit the payout is 3:2. If you have either set of these three cards in the same suit, you are paid out 2:1. Draw a 21 with 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 in all spades and you are paid out 3:1.
Remember that the house edge has increased by 2% simply by removing those four 10 cards. These bonuses are not a solution to that problem, but sure are a great incentive to grab players’ attention. In fact, if you play with the best strategy, the house edge can be reduced below those of traditional. That means learning the strategy for Spanish 21 is vital.
As in traditional blackjack, it is a very useful tool to have the “basic strategy” chart for Spanish 21. Here is the basic strategy chart using the player’s total, the dealer’s up card and advice for play based on the correlation of those totals.