Blackjack Variation: Spanish 21

Spanish 21 is a blackjack variation in which there is a fairly good balance between the rules that favor the house and the rules that favor the player. In fact, it is the one blackjack variation which has a balance similar to a standard game of blackjack, unlike other variations, which are skewed heavily to the house.

This morning I discussed how the rules and game set up for blackjack actually is pretty balanced. So let’s take a look at what Spanish 21 one is and what its balance is.

First, the bad news. Spanish 21 is played with the 10 cards removed. All of the face cards are still in play, but the actual cards with 10 of their suit are removed. Removing 10 cards from the deck does hurt the player. Spanish 21 is also played with six to eight decks, and we all know that the more decks being used, the better the odds for the house.

And now the good news. There is a whole host of player favorable rules to help make up for the hit to the player’s blackjack odds by the multi decks and removed 10s.

Let’s first look at why 21 features in this variation’s name. Player 21s will always win against the dealer rather than pushing. And a player’s natural blackjack will always beat the dealer’s natural blackjack. Again, no pushing.

Players are allowed to make late surrender. And late surrender can happen after doubling down. This is known as the “Double down Rescue” because the player gives up an amount of their wager that is equal to their original wager. So it is like a normal surrender when you surrender half of your wager, except in this rule you are surrendering half of the total doubled down wager.

They can double down after splitting a pair as well as double down on any number of cards.

And for pairs of Aces, resplitting of Aces is allowed and players can double down after splitting Aces as well.

Spanish 21 also has a number of different payouts:

-five card 21 pays 3-2
-six card 21 pays 2-1
-seven card 21 pays 3-1
-a 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 made of mixed suits pays 3-2
-a 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 of the same suit pay 2-1
-a 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 of spades pays 3-1
-a 7-7-7 of the same suit with the dealer holding a 7 up pays $1,000 for wagers between $5 and $24
-a 7-7-7 of the same suit with the dealer holding a 7 up pays $5,000 for wagers of $25 or more

Between the various payouts and plethora of other player-friendly rules, the balance between the house and the player is remarkably close—close enough that it is the one blackjack variation that is closest to standard blackjack. This is the one blackjack variation to play…especially since it does not have side bets.