Difference between blackjack and Spanish 21

If you’re already a keen blackjack player, then Spanish 21 will definitely feel familiar, but you’ll soon notice there are a few big differences as well. The first thing you need to be aware of when playing Spanish 21 is that all the tens are removed from the pack, so you’re playing with a 48-card deck, not a standard 52-card deck. Picture cards still carry a value of ten, so you will need a Jack, Queen, or King – along with an Ace – to make a two-card hand that adds up to 21. With all the numbered tens removed, however, there’s less chance of being dealt that perfect 21 as an opening hand.

The payouts are also different in Spanish 21, with the odds depending on how many cards you’re holding when you hit 21 and which cards they are, as well as whether the cards are mixed or matched suits, with the best odds reserved for three sevens that are all Spades. In Spanish 21 you’ll also receive a payout for matching the dealer’s hand, and again the odds will depend on the details of the hand you match. While Spanish 21 is certainly considered a variant of blackjack, there are enough differences involved to make it feel like a whole different game; that’s why it’s advisable to learn a little about the game before jumping in. 

Blackjack basics 

Blackjack is played using a standard 52-card deck or sometimes several standard decks. In fact, many casinos offer a six-deck game, meaning there are 312 cards in total. There are a few reasons for this, not least the fact that it makes the common blackjack strategy of card counting pretty challenging. The aim of the game is to get a hand where the face value of the cards you hold equals 21. If nobody gets a hand of 21 then the hand that is closest to it – but still below 21 – is the winning hand. Going over 21 means you are “bust” and out of the game.

The game starts with players placing their initial bets and then the dealer deals two cards to each player. In most casinos, these cards are dealt face up – or sometimes one card face up and one face down. If any player is dealt a card with a value of ten, along with an Ace, they have a natural blackjack, and as long as the dealer isn’t also holding a hand of the same value, the player has won.

If you have a hand of less than 21, you get to decide whether to stand or hit. Standing means you keep the cards you are holding and do not receive another one. Hitting means you get another card. If a player is dealt a pair of cards of the same value, he can choose to split that pair and play them as two separate hands. Players can also choose to surrender, if they have a bad hand and don’t want to play it, or double down, which means they can double their bet after being dealt their initial cards, but then they only receive one more card to form their winning hand.

Remember you are always playing against the dealer in a game of blackjack. Even if you’re in a game where there are other players involved, each player is up against the dealer, not the other players. In traditional blackjack, if you tie with the dealer, it results in a “push.” That is, you neither win nor lose but simply get your original stake back. This, along with the fact that the dealer always acts last after other players have received their cards and placed their bets, gives the dealer a bit of an advantage. But that’s to be expected. It’s where the dreaded house edge comes from in blackjack.

Spanish 21 

Spanish 21 is a variant of blackjack, but you’re looking at some slightly different rules, payouts, and odds. As we’ve already mentioned, when playing Spanish 21 the tens are removed from the deck, slightly reducing the likelihood that you will be dealt a natural blackjack. Another big difference is in the betting odds and payouts. In Spanish 21 it’s not just about whether you win but also how you win. The amount you win will differ according to the type of hand you’re holding. 

The payout you receive will depend on the exact cards you are holding and how many of them you have. You’ll even win a different amount depending on whether you have a matching suit of the cards and which suit they are. Many players would agree this makes the game a little more interesting than regular blackjack and allows for extra payouts that you don’t get in other variants of the game.

Another Spanish 21 rule that players love is the fact that a player’s blackjack beats the dealer’s blackjack, as opposed to a tie resulting in a push. This applies to a natural blackjack or any other situation in which the player and dealer hands both have a value of 21, and it doesn’t affect the extra payouts that come as a result of specific combinations. Players can also place a special side bet in Spanish 21 that will win if either one or two of their initial cards match the dealers up card. 

You’ll also find that the rules regarding doubling down are much more relaxed in Spanish 21 than in standard blackjack. Players are permitted to double down on any two-card hand but can also choose to double down after hitting or splitting a hand as well. You can even double down twice on the same hand if that makes sense for you. In a standard blackjack game, you can only double down after being dealt your initial two cards, and if you choose to double down, you will only get dealt one more card and cannot hit again.

Lastly, you can split more often in Spanish 21. In a regular blackjack game, you can’t split more than once, and you can’t hit after a split. This can be frustrating, because any savvy player will split a pair of Aces, for example, but if they then draw another Ace, there’s no possibility to split again. In Spanish 21 you can split a pair again and again, creating up to four hands in a single game. You then, of course, have the ability to hit (and double down if you want to) on each of those hands. This in turn increases your chances of hitting 21 and bagging one of the additional payouts as well.

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Impact on house edge 

House edge is complicated when it comes to blackjack and its variants. In a regular game of blackjack, the house edge is generally quite low – often coming out at around 1%. However, it can be as low as 0.20% or as much as 1.40%, depending on the casino. This is because the house edge is dependent on things such as the number of decks in play and house rules imposed by specific casinos.

When it comes to variants of traditional games it’s common to find that the variant offers slightly worse odds than the original version of the game, but this is not usually the case with Spanish 21. In fact, the house edge in Spanish 21 is approximately 0.40%, so you may well find that it offers a lower house edge than other variants of blackjack you might have played in the past.

Spanish 21 vs Blackjack odds 

With Spanish 21 the odds are different from regular Blackjack, with different payouts available depending on the exact cards you are holding as well as how many cards you used to make your hand of 21. So, when it comes to Spanish 21 vs Blackjack odds, you’ll need to take a close look at all the different options.

In Spanish 21 the odds look like this:

  • If you hit 21 with five cards in your hand: 3-2
  • If you hit 21 with six cards in your hand: 2-1
  • If you hit 21 with seven or more cards in your hand: 3-1
  • If you are holding a Six, Seven, and Eight (of mixed suits): 3-2
  • If you are holding a Six, Seven, and Eight (of a matching suit): 2-1
  • If you are holding a Six, Seven, and Eight (of Spades): 3-1
  • If you are holding three Sevens (of mixed suits): 3-2
  • If you are holding three Sevens (of a matching suit): 2-1
  • If you are holding three Sevens (all Spades): 3-1

Obviously, this gives you not just one chance to win but also several chances to secure an additional payout depending on exactly how you win. This differs from regular blackjack where there are far fewer payouts available. Generally, a blackjack will pay out at one-and-a-half times your bet or sometimes 3-2, while any other winning hand will result in an even money (1-1) payout.

Are there any similarities between Spanish 21 and Blackjack?

While there are differences in the rules, the odds, and the house edge, the basics of both Spanish 21 and blackjack are similar. Each player plays against the dealer, you are dealt two cards initially and you can choose to hit, stand, double down, or split if you have a pair. You can also choose to surrender in either game, which means you decide not to play that particular hand. You’ll give up half of your bet with the guarantee that you’ll get to keep the other half. 

The basic aim of the game is the same, and if you have specific strategies that you use in deciding when to hit, stand, surrender, or split, they’ll probably be applicable in Spanish 21 just as they are in standard Blackjack. Whatever rules or guidelines you use to avoid going bust in Blackjack will apply in Spanish 21 as well.

Overall, however, you’ll find there’s more to think about in Spanish 21, especially if you take advantage of splitting multiple times and also because you’ll be aware that how your hand is formed could result in extra winnings for you. While every player will have their preferences, you’ll find that many players agree that Spanish 21 is a more engaging game overall than a standard blackjack game. If you’re a keen blackjack player looking to mix things up a little, you should certainly consider giving Spanish 21 a try. You may find it becomes your new favorite.

Author: Tanya Fields

Campaign Acquisition Manager Length with RC: 1 year, 9 months Favorite Casino Game: Starburst Background in iGaming: Opened the iGaming Department at Hard Rock Atlantic City in 2018 in both Customer Service, and then CRM, prior to moving over to RC in January 2021 Location: Based in NJ at the RC HQ Content: Occasionally, but only as it pertains to RC

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