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Spanish 21

Spanish 21 is a common variation of standard Blackjack. In Spanish 21, the 10 cards are removed from the deck – but not the Jacks, Queens, or Kings. There are also a number of favorable rules given to the players. In Spanish 21 players are able to hit, double down, or surrender at any time, not just after the first two cards. If you double down and don’t like the card you get, you are able to back out with “double down rescue,” which allows you to surrender one bet while pulling back the other. Also, unless the dealer has blackjack, player 21s win, even if the dealer also has a multiple-card 21. In standard blackjack this would result in a no win push.

There is some disagreement about the exact origin of blackjack. Most believe it began around the beginning of the 18th century in France, evolving out of French games such as chemin de fer and French Ferme. Others believe the history of blackjack originated in French casinos around the 1700’s where it was called vingt-et-une (twenty-and-one.)

In addition there are special payouts for certain combinations of 21 points:

Spanish 21 special payouts

  • 5 card 21 pays 3-2
  • 6 card 21 pays 2-1
  • 7 card 21 pays 3-1
  • 6-7-8 mixed suits pays 3-2
  • 6-7-8 same suited pays 2-1
  • 6-7-8 all spades pays 3-1
  • 7-7-7 mixed suits pays 3-2
  • 7-7-7 same suited pays 2-1
  • 7-7-7 all spades pays 3-1
  • 7-7-7 same suited with dealer up card any 7 pays $5000 for a bet of $25 or more, pays $1000 if bet between $5 and $25

Spanish 21 is often played with 6 or 8 decks with the dealer hitting soft 17. The big negative in Spanish 21 is that it is played with Spanish decks that contain no 10-spot cards. When you have an 11 and want to double down, you need to remember that there are only 12 10-value cards per deck that will complete your 21 instead of the usual 16 per deck. Spanish 21 can be a very interesting and exciting game once you understand the rules.

Spanish 21 Basic Strategy
Strategy for Hard Totals
Always stand with totals of 18 or more, and hit with totals of 8 or less. Otherwise use the following strategy for playing Spanish 21:
Hard 9 Double down on a two-card 9 if the dealer’s face-up card is a 6; hit against all other up cards and hit against 6 if the 9 consists of three cards.
Hard 10 Double down if the dealer shows 2 through 7; hit against 8s or higher.
Hard 11 Double down if the dealer shows 2 through 8; hit against 9s or higher.
Hard 12 Always hit.
Hard 13 Hit if the dealer shows 2, 3, 4 or 7 or higher. Stand against 5 or 6, except hit if the 13 consists of five or more cards.
Hard 14 Hit against 2, 3 or against 7 or higher, Also hit against a 4 if the hard 14 consists of four or more cards, or against a 5 or 6 with five or more cards.
Hard 15 Hit against 7 or higher, and against a 2 if the 15 consists of four or more cards, against a 3 or 4 with five or more cards, or against a 5 or 6 with six cards.
Hard 16 Surrender if the dealer shows an Ace. Otherwise, hit against 7 or higher; also hit against a 2 if the 16 consists of five or more cards, or against a 3 or 4 with six cards.
Hard 17 Surrender against an Ace. Otherwise, stand unless the dealer shows an 8, 9 or 10 and the 17 consists of six cards. In that case, hit.
Strategy For Soft Totals
Always stand on soft 19, 20 or 21. Otherwise, use the following strategy.
Soft 13, 14, and 15 Always hit.
Soft 16 Double down if the dealer shows a 6, except just hit if the 16 consists of four or more cards. Just hit against other up cards.
Soft 17 Hit against 2, 3 and 7 or higher. Double down against a 4 if the 17 consists of two cards, against a 5 if the 17 consists of two or three cards and against a 6 of the 17 consists of two, three or four cards.
Soft 18 Hit if the dealer shows a 9, 10 or Ace; stand against 2, 3, 7 or 8, except hit against 2, 3 or 8 if the 17 consists of four or more cards, and against 7 with six or more cards. Double down against 4, 5 or 6, except just hit against 4 with four or more cards and against 5 or 6 with five or more cards.
Strategy For Splitting Pairs
Always split Aces, and never split 4s, 5s or 10-value cards. Otherwise, use the following strategy for playing Spanish 21:
Pair of 2s or 3s Split if the dealer’s up card is 3 through 7.
Pair of 6s Split if the dealer shows 4, 5 or 6.
Pair of 7s Split against 2 through 7.
Pair of 8s Surrender if the dealer shows an Ace. Split against all other dealer up cards.
Pair of 9s Split when the dealer shows 3 through 6, or an 8 or 9.
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