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Spanish 21 Strategies

Spanish 21 has emerged as a popular alternative to blackjack in casinos all around the country. The most significant difference is that Spanish 21 takes a standard deck and removes the 10 and joker cards. In Spanish 21, when a player draws a 21 or blackjack, it automatically beats the dealer — there is no tying. These factors change the dynamics of the game considerably, and many experienced players find Spanish 21 to be both more exciting and easier to win.

If you are thinking of trying a game of Spanish 21 — whether online or in a casino — knowing some basic strategy can help improve your chances of success.

Spanish 21 Strategy Basics

  • Stand and hit: Always stand if you draw a hard 18 or higher, or a soft 19 or higher. Always hit with a hard eight or less, or with a hard 12, soft 13, 14 or 15.
  • Doubling down: Double down if you have a hard nine or soft 16, and the dealer is showing a six; a hard 10 and the dealer is showing between two and seven; an 11 and the dealer is showing between two and eight; a two-card soft 17 and the dealer has a four; or a soft 18 and the dealer has a four, five or six.
  • Splitting pairs: Always split a pair of aces and never split a pair of fours, fives or sixes. If you have a pair of twos, threes or sevens, split if the dealer is showing between three and seven. Split a pair of sixes if the dealer shows between four and six. Always split a pair of eights, unless the dealer is showing an ace, in which case you should fold. Split a pair of nines if the dealer is showing a three, four, five, six, eight or the nine.

The more familiar you get with the rules and odds of Spanish 21, the more intuitive the game will become. Enjoy!

How to Play Spanish 21

Players who enjoy Blackjack often love Spanish 21. It offers a variety of options, and many players find it more fun, in addition to easier to win.

Played with a Spanish card deck, the dealer works with 48 cards. The cards include the numbers 2 through 9, the Jack, the Queen, the King and the Ace; the dealer removes each 10 card and the Jokers. Play unfolds much like Blackjack, with several notable exceptions.

In Spanish 21, players win hands that would tie the dealer in Blackjack. For example, the player’s Blackjack always beats a dealer’s Blackjack, which pays 3 to 2. In addition, a ‘21’ earned by a player always beats a dealer’s 21, unless the dealer had a Blackjack and the player got to 21 with more than 2 cards. Certain player hand totals result in special game payouts.

Also, players double down only one time – including after splitting – on two or more cards. Players can split matching pairs, including Aces, up to three times; players can also double down and hit on split hands, Aces included. Players can take back a double down bet and only lose the original wager with Spanish 21’s Double Down Rescue.

A player can sometimes drop out of a hand and only lose half his bet by folding after getting the first two cards. If the player drops after the dealer shows a face card or an Ace, the dealer must check for Blackjack. Although the player cannot fold when the dealer’s hand is Blackjack, he may if no Blackjack exists.

Finally, a player earns a Super Bonus if the dealer shows a 7 and the player’s first three cards are suited 7s. Super Bonus payouts range from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the original bet. Although doubling down and splitting pairs void the Super Bonus payment, all players earn an Envy Bonus of at least $50 when it occurs legitimately.

Non-Double-Down Spanish 21 Payouts

Five-card 21: 3 to 2
Six-card 21: 2 to 1
Seven-card 21: 3 to 1
6-7-8 mixed suits: 3 to 2
6-7-8 same suit: 2 to 1
6-7-8 spades: 3 to 1
7-7-7 mixed suits: 3 to 2
7-7-7 same suit: 2 to 1
7-7-7 spades: 3 to 1

Players may also bet that the dealer’s face up card will match either of their first two cards. Called match-the-dealer, these bets cannot exceed the original wager but must be greater than $1. Players must attempt to match-the-dealer prior to the first dealt card. Players cannot make insurance bets on match-the-dealer wagers. Non-suited matches pay 3 to 1 for each match, while suited matches pay 12 to 1 for each match.

Dover Downs Hotel & Casino reserves the right to change game rules and regulations without notice.