Blackjack is a widespread card game which is played by casino aficionados all over the world. The game has been a center of attention for many years due to the fact that it offers a simple yet exciting gameplay. Nowadays, along with the classic game, you can also find a number of different versions provided by numerous land-based and online casinos. Online blackjack is played by many casino enthusiasts, located in various countries which led to the idea that the game should be adapted according to their needs.
This is the reason why many exciting variations have emerged, offering different rules and experience. Some versions feature special side bets, whereas others change the number of decks in use and alter the rules a bit more. One of the most popular and exciting variations of blackjack is called Spanish Blackjack. You can find it in some casinos under the name Spanish 21.
Spanish Blackjack Rules
Since Spanish Blackjack is just a variation of the classic game, its basics remain the same. The main rules and the assigned value of the cards are also no different. In this game, your aim is to beat the dealer who is the only person you compete with. Even though there will most likely be other players sitting on the table, your goal is to form a strong hand whose total is better than the dealer’s hand. The maximum points that you are allowed to get are twenty-one and if you surpass this number, you automatically go bust, or in other words, you lose your bet. Most cards are worth their face value. As for Queens, Kings, Jacks, and Aces, these count as 10. Aces can be either one or eleven, depending on the players’ choice and needs.
These are the basics of the game which every player should get familiar with. Now let’s proceed by taking into account the differences Spanish Blackjack has. One of them is that unlike the classic game, this version is played with six or eight decks, each consisting of 48 playing cards instead of 52. The reason why is that all four tens are removed from each pack. This rule works entirely in favor of the casino and it is quite disadvantageous for the players as they have much better chances of winning if the deck is rich in tens.
However, in order to compensate for the missing tens and to make this version enticing and interesting, online casinos offer much more liberal rules and features. Under one of them, whenever you get a hand that totals twenty-one you win automatically, regardless of the position of the dealer. Let’s have a look at the rest of the rules Spanish Blackjack has:
- You are allowed to double down on any two initial cards, regardless of their suit and value
- If you split a pair, you are permitted to hit and double down any cards afterward, including Aces
- You are given the option to surrender after you have doubled down. In such situations, you give up your original bet but you get to keep your double down wager
- You can also choose to take advantage of the late surrender option meaning that you give up half of your initial bet and keep the rest. You can perform this move only if the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack
- It is also possible to re-split Aces
- If you have blackjack and the dealer also has the same combination, in this variation you win and this time the result is not a tie
- The dealer is required to hit on soft 17
- This variation is a hole card game and thus, the dealer peeks for blackjack
Spanish Blackjack Payouts
In order to compensate for the fact that all of the tens are excluded from the game, this variation features the so-called Super Bonus Rule that offers different bonus payouts, depending on the cards you receive. This makes the game very interesting and enticing as it gives players new opportunities to win money. Let’s have a look at the bonus payouts this blackjack variation offers:
- A five-card hand totaling 21 pays out at odds of 3:2
- A six-card hand totaling 21 pays out at odds of 2:1
- A seven-card hand totaling 21 pays out at odds of 3:1
- If your hand consists of the following cards for a total of 21, including 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 whose suit is different, pays out at odds of 3:2
- If the above-mentioned card combinations are all of the same suit, they pay out at odds of 2:1 and if these cards are all spades, the payout is 3:1
- If you are lucky enough to get three 7s of the same suit when the dealer’s up card is also a seven, you will boost your bankroll with a payout of 50:1.
It should be noted that these bonuse payouts don’t apply if you have already doubled down or split a pair.
Some Spanish Blackjack variations feature other interesting side bets that are quite popular among blackjack fans under the name “Match the Dealer”. Players bet on whether either of their first two cards will be of the same rank as the dealer’s up card. Provided that they are of the same rank but of a different suit, the side bet pays out 4:1. But if the player’s two cards coincide with the dealer’s exposed card in terms of a suit and rank, then the payout climbs to 9:1. However, rookie players are advised to avoid “Match the Dealer” side bets as they increase the house edge.
Spanish Blackjack House Edge
The fact that all tens are not included in this variation plays a crucial role as it increases the house edge significantly. However, it should be noted that there are various additional rules which have been designed to work in favor of the players. The house edge in Spanish Blackjack, just as in the rest of the variations, depends to a huge extent on a number of factors such as the automatic dealer’s play and the decks involved in the game.
You should bear in mind that the house edge is usually estimated, providing that players use the basic strategy. If the dealer hits on soft 17 and the game is played with eight decks of cards, the house edge is 0.80%. However if the dealer is required to stand on soft 17, then the house edge is much more beneficial – 0.38%.
Optimal Strategy for Playing Spanish Blackjack
Considering the reduced number of cards and the rule variations in Spanish Blackjack, you might have already suggested that this game requires a special strategy. What you should bear in mind when you are looking for the right optimal strategy for playing Spanish Blackjack is whether the dealer hits or stands on soft 17. In the lines below, you can find some universal rules regardless of the game’s variation you intend to play:
- Always hit if you have a hard 4 to 8
- If you have a hard 9, your best move is to hit unless the dealer’s up card is 6 (then double down)
- Provided that your hand totals 12, 13, or 14, then hit
- Stand on hard totals of 18 through 21
- If you have suited 7s and the dealer shows 7, then hit
- Paired 4s, 5s, and 10s should not be split
- If you have a pair of 8s and the dealer’s up card is an ace, then surrender, otherwise split
- Provided that you have paired aces, then your best move is to split them
If you happen to have an Aceless hand totaling 16, then your options are determined by the dealer’s up card. If the dealer’s exposed card is 5 or 6, then it is best to stand. But if the dealer is showing a card from 7 through 10, then you have a green light to hit. Surrender only if the dealer’s up card is an ace.
On the Internet, you can find Spanish Blackjack basic strategy charts, where you can see the favorable moves in all possible situations. Some of the moves you have to make are determined by the number of cards your hand consists of. You will certainly need some time to learn the strategy, but your effort will not be in vain.
Spanish Blackjack is one of the most popular variations of the game which is played by a number of players all over the world. It features great bonuses which make it extremely appealing. Nowadays, this interesting variation can be found in many brick and mortar casinos as well as online due to the fact that it has proven to be very popular among blackjack players. It is undoubtedly a game which is worth a try however before doing so make sure that you get familiar with all of its rules and subtleties.