What a Spanish 21?
Spanish 21 is an extremely popular variant of the conventional ‘Blackjack’ casino game. It’s played all over the world and can be enjoyed in almost every off-line and online casino world-over, for instance Bet365, the Venetian, MGM Grand etc. Spanish 21 is fairly easy to learn and play, and works as an excellent alternative (to Blackjack and its other variants) for players who are fond of Blackjack but are yearning for something slightly different.
If you’re someone who visits and off-line or online casino only to play slot machines, learning blackjack or Spanish 21 in particular can give you a good initiation into the casino card games. That being said, please note, there is nothing wrong if you’re a slots enthusiast! However, it’s always better to avoid putting all your eggs into one basket!
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Although we’ll go into their differences in good detail in a separate write-up, the two primary differences that separate Spanish 21 from conventional Blackjack is that the player’s Blackjack is always considered superior to the dealer’s Blackjack, and the game is normally played using a traditional 48 card Spanish playing cards deck, instead of the regular 52 card deck . Using the 48 card Spanish deck removes all the 10s from play, making it more difficult for the players to beat the house, with the house edge increasing by 2%. This increase in house edge is offset via some player-friendly and flexible changes to the regular Blackjack rules, and some unique bonus payouts that make Spanish 21 really worth playing!
The origins of this game lie in Nevada, US where it started in the form of a side game sometime around 1996, before gaining exponential popularity throughout the United States and beyond. The game’s official owner is a company called Masque Games, headquartered in the United States. However, there are many unlicensed versions of the game that are played across the world. If you’ve heard of the game pontoon, you’d probably also be aware that it’s one of the highly popular unlicensed versions of Spanish 21, which is extremely popular in UK, Australia and some of the legally allowed gambling places in Southeast Asia.
Let’s now get into the rules of the game in order to gain a good understanding of it.
General rules of Spanish 21
– The layout used during the Spanish 21 play is almost the same as the one used in standard Blackjack. The only difference in terms of layout is that the game is identified as Spanish 21, and not Blackjack. Furthermore, the bonus payouts are duly printed on every layout, apart from the Match the Dealer bonus. Normally, all the rules and bonuses related to the game are printed on every table’s layout, making it easy for the players to locate and play the game.
– Spanish 21 is normally played with anywhere from 8, 6, 5, 4 or 2 playing card decks. The cards are dealt either by hand or from the regular multi deck shoe. As also mentioned earlier, the only difference in these decks is that there are no 10s and joker cards in them.
– A Blackjack scored by player always beats the one scored by dealer, and is paid out 3 to 2.
– A total of 21 scored by a player always beats the same score achieved by the dealer. Some types of player 21 scores are rewarded by a bonus 21 payout.
– You can play the game in two different formats - where the dealer stands on any kind of total equalling 17, or hits soft 17.
– The players are allowed to split equal value cards, including the aces, no more than 3 times, enabling them to play simultaneous four hands. Aces are treated just like any other regular card during the splitting process. Doubling down and hitting of split hands is permitted, including that of aces.
– Players are allowed to double down two or more cards, even after they’ve split. The player can take back or rescue the double portion of a bet if he/she is unsatisfied with his/her non-busted hand. In case he/she opts to do so, he/she is required to forfeit the remaining part of the wager.
– In case the table makes it mandatory for the dealer to hit soft 17, it may also provide an option referred to as ‘double-double down,’ to the players using which a player can double up his total bet amount again after receiving the double card. The player may also choose to stand or rescue his/her last double portion of the bet. The player is allowed to double the total bet amount up to a maximum of 3 times, once through double down and two times through the double-double down. As a result, the player may bet a maximum of 8 times the original bet. Once the player has doubled the third time, and has received the double card, he/she is only allowed to stand or rescue.
Please keep in mind that the player is normally not allowed the double-double down choice whenever the dealer chooses to stand on totals of 17. Furthermore, you’re allowed doubling for less only when there is no choice of double-double down. To put it another way, whenever you are allowed the double-double down alternative, the doubling for less is disallowed. Nevertheless, the bet amount applicable to double-double down is capped at the maximum allowed bet amount. The last doubled part of the bet becomes the maximum allowed bet amount if the last double-double down bet is capped. In the event that a player chooses to double for less, that ‘last doubled portion of the bet’ becomes the lesser amount.
– The dealer checks under the face or ace card to see if he/she has a Blackjack. No early surrenders (prior to peek) are permitted. Late surrenders are permitted only on the first two cards of the player. Such late surrender of hand enables the players to forfeit half of their bet amounts, thus withdrawing from the game. Please keep in mind that the players aren’t allowed to surrender in situations where the dealer has a Blackjack.
– No bonus or special wager is required for the super bonus payout. In any Blackjack game played with 8, 6, 5 or 4 decks, the player is awarded a super bonus if his/her first 3 cards turn out to be suited sevens, and the dealer’s up card turns out to be any 7. As suited sevens are not a possibility in a 2-deck Spanish 21 game, the player wins the super bonus whenever he/she gets a 7 of diamonds, 7 of clubs and 7 of hearts as his/her first three cards, with the dealer up card being the 7 of spades. A £ 1000 to bonus may be paid out whenever there is a £ 5 minimum bet in play. On the other hand, a £ 5000 super bonus may be paid out whenever there is £ 25 minimum bet in play. Every other betting player on the table may be awarded an envy bonus of £ 50 each for that round. In the event that more than one player hits super bonus in the same round, the complete super bonus amount is awarded to every player who hits the super bonus, apart from an envy bonus payout to all other betting players on the table, for every super bonus hand.
– Please keep in mind that no bonuses are paid for doubled hands. Players in possession of the following 21-value hands, who haven’t doubled down, are awarded the following bonus 21 payouts:
> A hand consisting of 6 7 8 of spades is paid out 3 to 1
> A same suit 6 7 8 hand is paid out 2 to 1
> A mixed suit 6 7 8 hand is paid out 3 to 2
> A 21 value hand created with 7 cards is paid out 3 to 1
> A 21 value hand created with 6 cards is paid out 2 to 1
> A 21 value hand created with 5 cards is paid out 3 to 2
If you’re playing using 8, 6, 5 or 4 decks, the 7 7 7 payout structure is as follows:
> 7 7 7 of spades is paid out at 3 to 1
> A same suit 7 7 7 is paid out 2 to 1
> A mixed suit 7 7 7 is paid out 3 to 2
If you’re playing using 2 decks, there is no possibility of getting a spaded or suited 7 7 7 hand. In this case, the 7 7 7 hands are paid out in the following manner:
> 7 7 7 hands of mixed suits are paid out at 2 to 1
– Regardless of whether you’re playing in an off-line or an online casino, for instance Bet365 or someplace else, it may offer you either one bonus bet - Match the Dealer Up Card bonus wager, or two different bonus bets - Match the Dealer Up Card bonus bet and Match the Dealer Down Card bonus bet, apart from the normal 21 bet.
Match the Dealer Up Card bonus bet is a type of bet wherein both the original two cards of the player are exactly the same as the dealer’s up card in terms of rank. On the other hand, Match the Dealer Down Card bonus bet is a bet where one of the original two cards of the player turns out to be exactly the same as the dealer’s down card in terms of rank.
Every bonus bet has its own respective payoff amount, for the unsuited rank match and the suited rank match. This payout is dependent on the number of decks that are being used. It’s important for the player to make the regular 21 bet in order to qualify for either or both Match the Dealer bonus bets. It’s important for a player to have placed Match the Dealer Up Card bonus bet for a particular hand, in order to make Match the Dealer Down Card bonus bet. The bet sizes for Match the Dealer maximum and minimum bets is determined by the house.
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About Spanish 21 house edge in brief
Regardless of whether you’re playing it in an offline or an online casino, for instance, the likes of Bet365 and others, the house edge in Spanish 21 is comparatively lower compared to other Blackjack variants out there. This house edge can even go below 1% if a player follows the most optimum strategy, converting Spanish 21 into a conventional Blackjack game that’s ideal for players who wish to have better control on their returns. If you’re playing Spanish 21, the house edge is decided based on different rule variations of this game. The unique super bonus offered in Spanish 21 also significantly reduces the house edge, depending on the exact bet amounts placed on the table and the number of decks used for play.