What is Spanish 21?

Spanish 21, or Spanish blackjack, is a variant of the classic game of blackjack. As the name suggests, Spanish 21 is traditionally played with the Spanish 48-card deck, although the standard 52-deck, minus the four tens, is equally suitable. Obviously, removing four, or 25%, of the 10-point cards increases the house edge, but only to 0.40%, if the dealer stands on 17, compared with 0.28% for blackjack played under liberal Las Vegas Strip rules. Indeed, in common with liberal Las Vegas Strip rules, Spanish 21 players may double after splitting, resplit aces and late surrender of the first two cards is allowed.

Spanish 21 is akin to blackjack in many ways, although the main difference is that a player 21, including blackjack, always beats a dealer 21. Any five-card, mixed suit 21 pays 3/2, any six-card, mixed suit 21 pays 2/1 and any seven-card, or higher, mixed suit 21 pays 3/1. Similarly, a mixed suit 6,7,8 pays 3/2, a suited 6,7,8 pays 2/1 and a suited 6,7,8 in spades pays 3/1; the same odds apply to 7,7,7 in all three cases although, in the event of a suited 7,7,7, if the dealer is also showing a seven, the player receives a bonus of $1,000, or $2,500 – known as a ‘Super Bonus’ – depending on the size of his or her initial stake. Note that none of these bonuses apply after doubling or splitting.