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Strategy for Spanish 21

Spanish 21 is a variation of blackjack that has gained high popularity around the world. Although it shares some basic features with regular blackjack, it has some significant differences. The main difference between standard blackjack and Spanish 21 is the exclusion of all 10-valued cards except the pictures from the game. This fact increases the house edge by about 25%. But instead casinos offer some favorable blackjack variations of rules and special bonuses to compensate for the high casino advantage.

Rules and bonuses for Spanish 21

Possibly the most important rule in Spanish 21 making it different from the regular blackjack is that in Spanish 21 the player's hand of 21 beats the dealer's hand of the same value.

Bonus 21. When the player's hand totals 21, he or she gets a chance to take Bonus 21. There are certain differences in payout concerning the combinations of cards in a player's hand:

  • When a player has 5 cards with a total value of 21, the payout will be 3 to 2.
  • With six cards totaling 21, the payout is 2 to 1.
  • With seven and more cards totaling 21, the payout is 3 to 1.
  • When a player has a combination of 6, 7 and 8 of mixed suit, he or she is paid at 3 to 2.
  • With 6, 7, 8 of the same suit, the payout is 2 to 1.
  • The player is paid at 3 to 1 if he or she has 6, 7 and 8 of Spades.
  • With three sevens of mixed suits, the player gets a 3 to 2 payment.
  • The payment is 2 to 1 with three sevens of the same suit.
  • With three sevens of Spades the player gets a 3 to 1 payout.

Super Bonus. The player can claim for the Super Bonus in case he or she has three sevens of the same suit and the dealer has a seven of any suit. For $5 to $24 bets the player gets a $1000 Super Bonus. For bets of $25 and more, the Super Bonus makes $5000. Every active player at a table gets a $50 Envy bonus. A Split or a Double cancels the Super bonus.

Late surrender. Spanish 21 allows surrender when the player is not satisfied with the combination of a hand. Half of the player's original bet will be forfeit, but this rule actually increases blackjack probabilities. Late surrender is prohibited in case the dealer has "blackjack".

There is an additional opportunity of surrender after the doubling called "double down rescue". It allows the player to "rescue" the doubled bet, but the original bet will be forfeit.

The rest of the favorable Spanish 21 rules are:

  • The player is able to double after the split.
  • Aces may be re-split.
  • The player is allowed to double with any number of cards.
  • After the splitting of aces, the player is allowed to hit and double.

There are some variable rules in Spanish 21 that may change for different locations:

  • The dealer may either hit or stand on "Soft 17".
  • The number of decks in play may vary from 6 to 8.
  • In some casinos it is possible to redouble, sometimes even two or three times.

The house edge in Spanish 21 differs according to some rule variations in different casinos and makes from 0.4% to 0.76% in casinos where the dealer can hit on "soft 17" and no redoubling is allowed. The player using proper basic blackjack strategy is able to significantly reduce house edge and to gain good profit, especially as the rules of Spanish21 are rather favorable for the players.