Spanish 21 was created by a Colorado-based gaming company named Masque Publishing. It was first played in Nevada casinos in 1995, and unlicensed but equivalent versions became popular. These had a few different names, including Spanish Blackjack. Today the names are almost interchangeable, especially online.
There are several differences between the original Blackjack game and the Spanish version, although much is similar as well. It’s an enjoyable addition to the playing portfolio of enthusiasts, and many players consider it a good next step on their Blackjack journey. If it’s one that you are considering taking, read more about it below.
Spanish Blackjack 101
As with all variants of the game of 21, the objective here is to create a hand total that is 21 or as close to this as possible, without exceeding it. The Ace cards are worth 11 or 1, the Face cards are worth 10 and the Number cards are all worth their displayed value. The best hand in the game is Blackjack, made up of an Ace and a Face card.
Usually 6 or 8 decks are used, with the 10-value number cards removed from all of them. To start the round, everyone places their bets and then gets a hand of 2 cards. The dealer also gets 2 cards, with 1 facing up so that it is visible. Once you’ve considered your hand and the dealer’s facing up card, you need to decide what to do.
You can Hit, and get more cards as you try to build the best hand possible, or Stand when you are ready to end your turn. At the end of the round all cards are revealed, and you win if your total is above the dealer’s but under 21, if you are under 21 but the dealer has exceeded this amount and gone bust, or if you hit 21 on the dot.
Spanish Blackjack Advantages
Removing the 10 cards give the house quite a big edge, but the game has other rules in place to negate that fact and to keep things interesting. These include the fact that you always win if you hit 21, whether or not the dealer does too. In many other games such a tie will result in a push.
You’re also allowed to Split cards until you have 4 hands, and this rule unusually applies to pairs of Aces as well. In addition, the dealer peeks for Blackjack if the face-up card is a Face or Ace. This means they check if their other card creates a natural Blackjack before players start making their moves, which can save a lot of time and wagering.
Doubling Down, which is doubling your bet and then getting only 1 more card in each hand, is also allowed no matter how many cards you have in total, and you can even Surrender after Doubling Down. This is where you withdraw from the game if your hand seems unfavorable, and get to keep half your bet. For an even bigger advantage over the house, some casinos even let you Double Down twice more after originally doubling down.
The many different payout instances in Spanish Blackjack can also make this game really lucrative for players, and there is sometimes even a Match the Dealer side bet on offer. This pays you out if 1 or both of your cards match the dealer’s. There’s plenty to explore in this version of Blackjack, and you’ll be more and more rewarded as you practice and develop. The free play options that most casinos offer are the perfect opportunity to do this.