Spanish 21 Strategy and How to Play

Relatively new to casinos this version of blackjack is played with a Spanish deck. This is a regular deck of cards with the 10’s removed. Out of 52 cards, 16 cards in a deck have a value of 10, that’s a 30% chance that the next card will be a 10 value card. Any card counter will tell you that the higher your chances of a 10, the better your chance of winning. Take out 4 of the 16 10 value cards leaves you with a 23% chance of being dealt a 10, throwing the advantage into the house’s favor.

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Much like blackjack switch where the main rule clearly turns the odds in the players favor, Spanish 21 has some adapted rules to even out the playing field.


One of my favorite adaptations for Spanish 21 is that a player doesn’t push against a dealer blackjack; instead he always beats the dealer’s blackjack.

The player is not restricted from doubling and can double on any number of cards. Bearing in mind that with a regular deck, when a player is allowed to double and split freely, the odds are shifted by 0.23% into the players favor. With a 30% chance that the next card will be a 10 value, if done correctly, doubling has an almost a 1 in 3 chance of producing the desired effect. By removing the 10’s from the deck, the house has cut the player chance of getting a 10 on the next card right down to less than a 1 in 4 chance and as a result need not impose as many restrictions on doubling, splitting or even doubling after splitting.

Late surrender is always allowed, unless of course the dealer has blackjack. Surrender is an option given to players where they essentially give up their hand and half of their bet. According to the rules of basic strategy surrender is the recommended bet when you find yourself with a 16 and the dealer has a 9 or above as his face up card. A player would want to surrender in a situation such as this since the odds of the dealer drawing a card to bring his hand to 17 or above are over 50%. With fewer tem value cards in the shoe, this goes down which is why the house is more liberal when it comes to surrendering.

Double down rescue, which is the option to surrender after doubling, is also allowed which means that a player is able to throw in his cards after doubling down. The player gives up his cards and loses the ‘double’ portion of his bet. Again doubling has a lot to do with the probability if drawing a 10 value card, less 10’s means that the house takes less of a risk.

House edge

Remember that the house edge for regular blackjack playing basic strategy sits at around the 0.5% mark. At a Spanish 21 table where the dealer stands on a soft 17 the house edge moves ever so slightly into the players favor bringing it to 0.4% with an 8 deck shoe and 0.37% with a 6 deck shoe. At tables where the dealer hits on a soft 17 the house edge increases minutely to 0.42% but jumps to almost 0.8% when the player is not allowed to redouble.

Special payouts for 3-card 21

Spanish 21 is well known for its special payouts for three 7’s. Any set of  7’s will be awarded the typical blackjack payout of 3:2, suited triple 7’s pay 2:1 and if you can pull three 7’s of spades your payout jumps to 3:1.

An unsuited hand made up of a 6, 7 and 8 also gets paid 3:2. Suit them up to receive 2:1 on your bet and a hand of spades pays 3:1. These are some of the best odds at any blackjack table.

Bonus bets for 6, 7 and 8-card 21’s

While typically the highest payout in blackjack is 21 formed by only 2 cards, Spanish 21 has blackjack and even better payouts for hands of 5, 6 or even 7 cards totaling exactly 21 where you can expect to rake in up to 3:1 on your bet.


An important strategy deviation for Spanish 21 is that the lower value cards are far more valuable when you consider the generous bonuses for 6-7-8, triple 7’s and up to 7 card hands. Since this game has a lower amount of high cards, this certainly counts in the players favor.

Side bets

Insurance is offered in Spanish 21 to protect your hand against a dealer blackjack. In most blackjack versions the insurance payout is even money, paying 2:q. however in Spanish 21, with 4 less 10 value cards per deck, the odds are shifted into the house’s favor, instead of paying out 3:1 to make it an even money bet, the payout remains at 2:1. This side bet has a house edge of around 24%, one of the worst odds of any game in any casino.

Match the dealer

While not only offered in Spanish 21 games, it is often an integral part of a Spanish 21 table. This side bet pays up to 15:1 if one of the players first 2 cards matches the dealers up card in value. Depending on the suit of the cards and the number of decks the house edge for this bet can vary between 3% and 3.6%.

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