Spanish 21

a single deck with no tens in it

Spanish 21 is a fun twist on blackjack that sometimes offers the best odds in the casino, depending on the house rules.

Just like in traditional blackjack, the players and dealer start with two cards each, and players try to beat the dealer by getting the closest to 21 without going over. The game is typically played with six to eight Spanish decks, which differ from conventional decks in that all four tens are removed from each (the jacks, queens, and kings are all left in, so blackjacks are still possible, just harder to get). If all the same rules of traditional blackjack applied to Spanish 21, the removal of the tens would dramatically increase the house edge. Here’s a look at the size of the house edge in Spanish 21 before accounting for the Super Bonus:

Rules House Edge
Dealer stands on soft 17 0.40%
Dealer hits on soft 17, redoubling allowed 0.42%
Dealer hits on soft 17, no redoubling 0.76%

However, the player is afforded numerous other small advantages to compensate for having fewer 10-valued cards. For optimal strategy, check out the Wizard of Odd's page.

Although rules can vary from one casino to another, the following are standard at the time of this writing. Surrender is allowed, which means that if a player is dealt an unfavorable starting hand, they’re allowed to surrender and lose only half their original bet. There are two types of surrender: late and early. Early surrender, which is surrender before the dealer checks their hole card if they have an ace or ten-valued card face up, is exceedingly rare because it reduces the house edge by 0.63%. In a game where the dealer stands on soft 17 or hits with redoubling allowed, permitting early surrender would eliminate the house edge entirely and give the player the advantage.

spanish 21 logo

Late surrender refers to forfeiting an unfavorable starting hand after the dealer checks their hole card when applicable. This reduces the house edge also, but by a much smaller margin (0.1%), which is why it’s so much more prevalent. Similarly, double down rescue is also available, so if the player wishes to surrender after doubling down, they lose only one bet instead of two. Doubling after a split, doubling on any number of cards, and re-splitting aces are all allowed. A player 21 always wins, even when both the player and dealer have blackjack. If the player gets a five-card 21, they get a 3-2 payout, a 6-card 21 gets paid 2-1, and a 21 consisting of seven cards or more is paid 3-1. There are also bonuses for getting 6-7-8 or 7-7-7; if the suits are mixed the bonus is 3-2, if the cards are all either hearts, diamonds, or clubs, the bonus is 2-1, and if all three are spades, the bonus is 3-1. If a player has a suited 7-7-7 and the dealer’s face-up card is also a seven, they get paid a “super bonus” of $1000 if their bet is $5-$24 and $5000 if their bet is $25 or more. Other players at the table also get an envy bonus of $50. Hands that have been doubled are not eligible for any of these bonuses, and hands that have been split are ineligible for the “super bonus.”

There are a few rules that often vary from venue to venue. The dealer hits a soft 17 at some casinos and stands at others. An ace with a face after a split counts as a blackjack some places, although this is rare. There are also casinos where surrender and drawing to split aces are not permitted, but most houses allow both. Some casinos allow redoubling, which can be extraordinarily favorable to the player when used correctly. In traditional blackjack, each hand can be doubled only once, which makes doubling very low hands inadvisable even when the dealer is showing a bust card. But when redoubling is an option, no hand is too low to be doubled since the player has the option to take a fourth (and sometimes a fifth) card while betting even more against a dealer’s bust card.

spanish 21 layout

Many Spanish 21 tables offer a “Match the Dealer” side bet. If either of the player’s first two cards match the dealer’s face-up card, the player gets paid. Some tables have a secondary side bet that pays if either of the player’s first two cards match the dealer’s hole card. The odds vary by the number of decks in the shoe; double matches and suited matches pay more than single and non-suited matches. Like side bets on traditional blackjack tables, the house edge on the “Match the Dealer” bet is substantially larger than that of the main game. Astute gamblers will generally want to avoid the side bet, but should the urge to play it strike, it should be noted that the odds are least unfavorable to the player in eight-deck games. In six-deck games, the house edge is 3.0555% and in eight-deck games it’s 2.9855%.

Spanish 21 is offered at casinos all over North America. While the majority are in the US, the game can be found in over a dozen Canadian casinos, a handful of Mexican casinos, and Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. Casino Bregenz in Austria uses the name Blackjack Exchange even though the game is exactly the same. Players in Australia or Malaysia will encounter a slightly different version of the game called Pontoon where the dealer does not receive a hole card but most of the same rules apply. Many online casinos offer a digital version called Pirate 21. A directory of every brick and mortar casino offering Spanish 21 can be found below.

Casino Locations

  • Arizona

    • BlueWater Resort & Casino
    • Cliff Castle Casino Hotel
    • Desert Diamond Casinos
    • Fort McDowell Casino
    • Sol Casinos
    • Vee Quiva Casino
    • Wild Horse Pass
  • Bahamas, Nassau

    • Atlantis
  • California

    • 500 Club Casino
    • Agua Caliente Casino
    • Augustine Casino
    • Aviator Casino
    • Barona Casino
    • Bear River Casino
    • Black Oak Casino
    • Blue Lake Casino
    • Cache Creek Casino
    • Casino M8trix
    • Cher-Ae Heights Bingo & Casino
    • Chicken Ranch Casino
    • Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino
    • Chumash Casino
    • Club One Casino
    • Crystal Casino
    • Eagle Mountain Casino
    • Fantasy Springs Casino
    • Gold Country Casino
    • Harrah's Northern California
    • Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort
    • Jamul Casino
    • Lake Elsinore Casino
    • Merced Poker Room
    • Morongo Casino Resort
    • Pechanga Resort & Casino
    • River Rock Casino
    • Soboba Casino
    • Spa Resort Casino
    • Spotlight 29
    • Stones Gambling Hall
    • Sycuan Casino Resort
    • Table Mountain Casino & Bingo
    • Tachi Palace Casino
    • The Deuce Lounge & Casino
    • Thunder Valley Casino Resort
    • Turlock Poker Room & Casino
  • Canada

    • Caesars Windsor
    • Casino Brantford
    • Casino de Montreal
    • Casino du Lac-Leamy
    • Casino New Brunswick
    • Casino Niagara
    • Casino Thousand Islands
    • Casino Woodbine
    • Eagle River Casino
    • Elements Casino Flamboro
    • Elements Casino Mohawk
    • Gateway Casinos - Casino Rama
    • Gateway Casinos - Hanover
    • Gateway Casinos - Innisfil
    • Gateway Casinos - Point Edward
    • Great Blue Heron
    • Hard Rock Casino Ottawa
    • Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort
    • Shorelines Casino Belleville
    • Shorelines Casino Peterborough
    • Stoney Nakoda Casino
  • Connecticut

    • Foxwoods Resort Casino
    • Mohegan Sun
  • Delaware

    • Delaware Park
    • Harrington Raceway & Casino
  • Florida

    • Seminole Brighton Casino
    • Seminole Classic Casino
    • Seminole Coconut Creek
    • Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood
    • Seminole Indian Casino Immokalee
    • Seminole Hard Rock Tampa
  • Indiana

    • Ameristar East Chicago
    • Horseshoe Hammond
    • Majestic Star Casino
    • Rising Star Casino
  • Iowa

    • Catfish Bend Casino
    • Horseshoe Council Bluffs
    • Isle of Capri Waterloo
  • Maine

    • Oxford Casino
  • Maryland

    • Hollywood Casino Perryville
    • Live! Casino & Hotel
    • MGM National Harbor Resort & Casino
  • Massachusetts

    • MGM Springfield
  • Mexico

    • Caliente Casinos
    • Divertimex Guaymas
    • Divertimex Hermosillo
    • Divertimex Obregon
  • Michigan

    • Island Resort & Casino
    • MGM Grand
    • MotorCity Casino
  • Nevada

    • Circus Circus Las Vegas
    • Palazzo Casino Las Vegas
    • Venetian Casino Las Vegas
  • New Mexico

    • Route 66 Casino
  • New Jersey

    • Bally's Park Place
    • Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa
    • Caesars Atlantic City
    • Golden Nugget Atlantic City
    • Hard Rock Atlantic City
    • Harrah's Atlantic City
    • Ocean Resort Casino
    • Resorts Casino Hotel
    • Tropicana
  • New York

    • Akwesasne Mohawk Casino
    • del Lago Resort & Casino
    • Point Place Casino
    • Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady
    • Seneca Allegany Casino
    • Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino
    • Seneca Niagara Falls
    • Tioga Downs Casino Resort
    • Turning Stone Casino Resort
    • Yellow Brick Road Casino
  • Oregon

    • Mill Casino
    • Spirit Mountain Casino
    • Wildhorse Casino & Resort
  • Pennsylvania

    • Harrahs Philadelphia
    • Hollywood Casino at Penn National
    • Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs
    • Mount Airy Casino Resort
    • Parx Casino
    • SugarHouse Casino
    • Valley Forge Casino Resort
  • Rhode Island

    • Tiverton Casino
    • Twin River Casino
  • Washington

    • 12 Tribes Resort Casino
    • 7 Cedars Casino
    • Buzz Inn Steak House & Casino
    • Casino Caribbean Yakima
    • Chips Casino Lakewood
    • Clearwater Saloon & Casino
    • Coyote Bob's Casino
    • Crazy Moose Casino Pasco
    • Emerald Queen
    • Goldie's Shoreline Casino
    • Ilani Casino Resort
    • Joker's Casino
    • Lancer's Casino
    • Lilac Lanes and Casino
    • Lucky 21 Casino
    • Lucky Eagle Casino
    • Mill Bay Casino
    • Mr. Z's Casino
    • Muckleshoot Indian Casino
    • Nooksack Northwood Casino
    • Northern Quest Casino
    • Palace Casino La Center
    • Quil Ceda Creek Casino
    • Quinault Casino
    • RC's at Valley Lane
    • Red Wind Casino
    • Roxy's Casino
    • Silver Reef Casino
    • Skagit Valley Casino
    • Snoqualmie Casino
    • Suquamish
    • Wild Goose Casino
    • Wizard's Casino
    • Yakama Legends Casino
  • West Virginia

    • Hollywood Casino
    • Mardi Gras Casino & Resort
    • Mountaineer Casino & Resort
  • Wisconsin

    • Potawatomi Bingo Casino

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