Spanish 21 Blackjack is one of the most recent versions of the game, which explains why it is not very popular. The history of this variant dates back to 1995 in Las Vegas, when the game was introduced in many land-based casinos in Las Vegas. To date, the popularity of this game has continued to increase across the globe, and in some casinos, you might find it under the name Pontoon Blackjack.
Irrespective of the name, the game rules, and objectives are the same. Like classical blackjack, the goal is to beat the dealer to blackjack or be the closest to 21. However, a significant difference is that in Spanish 21 Blackjack, all the 10s are removed in every single deck, which puts the player at a huge disadvantage. In return, specific rules and moves in the gameplay are designed to compensate for this limitation, and all of this put together makes the game a fascinating one to play.
This review will take you through a journey where you will learn everything about Spanish 21 or Pontoon Blackjack. This article will cover the game’s rules, how it compares with the other variants (mainly traditional blackjack), strategies, and tips to help you succeed and decide if this game is worth a try.
What is Spanish 21 Blackjack, and how does it differ from the others?
Spanish 21 Blackjack is owned by a US-based company known as Masque Publishing. As a relatively new member of the blackjack family, it is usually played using a 6-8 deck of cards. The player’s priority is to beat the dealer by landing a blackjack or closest to 21 without exceeding it.
However, a significant feature of Spanish 21 Blackjack that makes it stand out from the rest is that all the 10s from each deck are removed. This leaves the player with a total of 48 cards against the standard deck size of 52, which changes everything about the gameplay. The court cards (Ace, Jack, King, and Queen) still retain their place in each deck, but with the 10s out, it’s a whole new game and strategy.
A comparison of the game rules between Spanish 21 and traditional blackjack is presented as follows:
How to play Spanish 21 Blackjack
Unfortunately, there are not many places where you can play Spanish 21 Blackjack in a regular brick-and-mortar casino, owing to the fact that it is not a very popular variant of the game. However, you will find it in many online casinos, either as Spanish 21 or Pontoon Blackjack. If you fancy this game, then here is how to go about it.
The first thing to do, whether you are playing at a regular brick-and-mortar casino or online, is to make a wager. You can easily do this by using the chips which are of different card values and placing them in the circle in front of you. Once the bets are in, depending on the number of players, the cards are dealt. The player and the dealer receive two cards. However, that of the players are dealt face down, and for the dealer, one is dealt face down and the other exposed. This is the same as in American Blackjack, except that in each deck of cards used, there are no 10s. The player’s decision afterwards is subject to the rules of the game, as will be discussed shortly.
Spanish 21 Blackjack Rules
One notable thing from the name of this game, “Spanish 21 Blackjack,” is the number 21, synonymous with all blackjack variants. This tells you that the goal is to get a hand with a value of 21 as a face value or blackjack (with any of the court cards) or have a hand closest. However, with the reduction in the number of cards in each deck following the removal of all 10s, there is a slight difference.
- Depending on the casino, it can be played with a varying deck of cards from one to eight.
- The dealer receives a hole card during gameplay.
- Players can re-split all hands (including aces) up to four hands per bet.
- For card values 16 or less, the dealer must hit and stand on 17. Depending on the casino rules, there is the option to either hit or stand with a soft 17.
- The player 21 beats the dealer’s 21 at every point in the game except when the player has multiple hands of 21 (more than two), and the dealer has a blackjack.
- The player’s blackjack always wins over the dealer’s hand, even if it is blackjack or 21.
- Players can double down on any number of cards without limits, including doubling down after splitting a pair.
- Players can surrender at any point in the game after doubling down, splitting a pair, and hitting. When a player surrenders after doubling down, it is known as “double down rescue” in a game of Spanish 21 Blackjack.
- Double-down rescue is not the same as Surrender. Rescue comes after the player doubles a hand of 3 or more cards of separate wagers. The player can only rescue the last part of the doubled bet. The player loses half or the greater part of the wagered amount in the doubled bet.
- Spanish 21 Blackjack allows for a late surrender where the player must forfeit half of his original bet. This surrender option is available only on the first two cards, but if the dealer’s card dealt face up is an Ace or a court card, the dealer must check for blackjack first before the surrender option can come into play. That’s because late surrender is not allowed if the dealer’s hand is a blackjack. So, if the dealer’s hand is not a blackjack, the first surrender decision holds, and if not, the player loses the total bet for the round.
- An insurance bet is allowed, and it pays 2 to 1. Players can bet half the original amount on a PAID blackjack and an exposed Ace.
- Offers multiple bonus payouts on specific hands
- There is a super bonus payout of $1000 on bets from $5 to $24 and $5000 for bets of $25 or higher.
- In any case of a super bonus win, other players on the table receive an ENVY BONUS of $50 for that round.
- In any case of more than one SUPER BONUS win, the house each winner in full and a corresponding ENVY BONUS on each SUPER BONUS win
It is crucial to state that while the insurance bet for Spanish 21 blackjack also pays 2 to 1 compared to traditional blackjack, the absence of 10s in the deck increases the house edge by a massive percentage. This makes the insurance bet one of the least popular moves in the game of Spanish 21 Blackjack.
Spanish 21 Blackjack House Edge
Each time you place a bet, the casino is already at advantage to win. The higher the house edge, the lower your chances of winning, which is something to consider before you sit at any table. In some cases, the house edge for Spanish 21 Blackjack can be as low as 0.37 – 0.40%. However, it could also hit the roof depending on the gameplay and the number of decks in use. For example, the house edge when a dealer stands on a soft total of 17 is 0.40%, but this changes to a massive 0.76% if the dealer decides to hit.
Spanish 21 Blackjack Bonus and Payout System
You can think of this as compensation for the high house edge and the absence of 10s in the card deck. Spanish 21 Blackjack has a super bonus payout that is up to $1000 on wagers between $5 to $24. The bonus payout increases to $5000 on wagers from $25 and above.
During gameplay of 4 to 8 decks, the dealer notifies all the parties when the dealer’s up card is ANY 7 and when a player has two suited 7’s. If the same player receives a third card that is a 7, the dealer receives an instruction from the floor person to pay the player with a payout appropriated to 7-7-7. It doesn’t end there, the player’s hand is left on the table, and the hand continues until the round comes to an end, and if the same player ends up as the winner, then that’s a double win.
It is important to note that players are not eligible for any of the Spanish 21 Blackjack bonuses in any case of a double hand. Below is an overview of some of the bonuses and payouts for Spanish 21 Blackjack.
Remember, these bonuses are cancelled once you opt to double down. Match the Dealer Side Bet in Spanish 21 Blackjack. If you only play the traditional blackjack game, then this might sound strange. Match the Dealer (MD)is a very common betting option in a 6-deck game of Spanish 21 Blackjack that offers players more ways to win. The player places a bet to match the dealer’s card dealt face up with either one or both of his cards. The payout for this bet is totally different from the conventional paytable and offers a lot more depending on how the matching is done. Below is an excerpt of the paytable for Match the Dealers Side Bet in a game of Spanish 21 Blackjack:
Spanish 21 Blackjack Strategies
If you are completely new to a blackjack table, then you might want to consider getting yourself familiar with the game rules, payouts, and how it differs from the traditional game of blackjack. The strategies for Spanish 21 Blackjack differ from the conventional game, considering that there are no 10s in the game. Below are some notable strategies to keep in mind.
What to do when you have a Hard Hand Total
A hard hand is one that does not contain an Ace or where it is counted as 1 and not an 11. If you have a hand, then these tips are your way out.
- If you have a card value of 8 or under, your best move is to HIT.
- For card values from 18 and above, the best move is to STAND
- If the dealer’s hand is a 6 and your hand is a 9, you can DOUBLE or HIT
- If the dealer’s hand is between 2 to 7 and you have a 10 or 11, Double or HIT
- HIT if you have 12
- With a hand value of 13, STAND if the dealer’s hand is 5 or 6. HIT if the dealer’s hand is an Ace or a 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, or 9.
- With a 13, the player stands against the dealer’s hand of 5 or 6; otherwise, HIT.
- If the dealer’s card is a 2, 3, or 7, 8, 9, and Ace, HIT if you have a 14. If the dealer’s card is a 4, then HIT on four cards. If it is a 5 or 6, HIT on 5 cards; otherwise, STAND.
- If the dealer shows card values from 7 upwards, HIT when you have a 15. Also, if the dealer shows a 2, or a 3 and 4, HIT on four and five cards, respectively. HIT on 6 cards if the dealer shows a 5 or 6 and if not, STAND.
- When the player’s hand is a 16 and the dealer has an Ace, the next logical move is to SURRENDER. If the dealer’s card is a 2 or a 3 and 4, HIT on 6 cards; otherwise, STAND.
- With a card value of 17, SURRENDER only if the dealer has an Ace. If the dealer’s hand is an 8 or 9, HIT on any 6 cards; and if not, STAND.
What to do with a soft total Hands
A soft total hand is the opposite of a hard total. It is a hand that contains an Ace that is counted as 11 and not 1. This strategy is a lot trickier because a bust cannot result from hitting a soft total. So, it is important to pay particular attention when doubling down or hitting on card values of 5, 6, and 7. Below is a strategy to help you perform better in this situation:
- HIT for card values 15 and below.
- For card values from 19 and above, the best move is to STAND
- Against the dealer’s 6, always DOUBLE DOWN with a soft 15 and, if otherwise, HIT.
- For a soft 16 and 17, double down against card values from 4 to 6, and if otherwise, HIT.
- Double down against the dealer’s hand of 4 to 6 and STAND against the dealer’s hand of 2, 3, 7, and 8.
Players can split any matching pairs, including Aces up to four hands, but you have to be careful when making these calls. Knowing when to split is crucial, and the following tips will guide you in making the best splitting decisions in a game of Spanish 21 blackjack.
- Only split card values of 2 and 3 when the dealer’s hand is between 3 and 7.
- Do not split card values of 4 and 5s.
- Split a pair of 6s when the dealer’s hand is between 4 and 6.
- With a pair of 8s, the player’s best move is to SURRENDER if the dealer has an Ace. If otherwise, the next option is to HIT.
- Split a pair of (s if the dealer’s card is between 3 to 9.
- Do not split if you have any of the court cards (King, Queen, Jack).
There is nothing Spanish about Spanish 21 Blackjack. Since its launch in 1995, this variant of blackjack has continued to grow to become one of the popular options for players across different platforms. The game comes with many twists and tricks that make it an exciting and thrilling option for players. If you are new to the game of blackjack, you might find it a little different; not in the game objectives but in the game rules and payouts. If you think you can manage a game of blackjack without the regular 10s, then you are in for a special game packed with many bonus payouts. Certainly, Spanish 21 Blackjack is worth a try.
What is Spanish 21 Blackjack?
Spanish 21 is an interesting variant of blackjack where the deck of cards excludes all 10s, leaving a total of 48 cards as against 52 in the traditional blackjack.
Is Spanish 21 Blackjack suitable for beginners?
Yes, Spanish 21 Blackjack is a very simple game to play. All you need to do is understand the game rules and learn strategies to help you win.
Are there strategies for Spanish 21 Blackjack?
Yes, there are many strategies for Spanish 21 Blackjack, depending on the action in the play. Some strategies cover splitting, soft hand and hard hand totals, and many more. You can check out our top strategies before you start playing.
Is Spanish 21 Blackjack the same as traditional Blackjack?
No. Although there are similarities, especially in the game’s objective, there is a huge difference in the gameplay, beginning with the cards. There are no 10s in Spanish 21, and there are many rules of the game that differs from what you see in a regular game of blackjack.