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What is the Difference Between Blackjack and Spanish 21?
Do you ever wish you could double a three-card eleven at the blackjack tables? And wouldn’t it be nice if a total of 21 always won? Or maybe you think you deserve a special bonus for getting a 7-card 21? Your wish comes true with Spanish 21, but not without a price. Compared with blackjack, Spanish 21 offers the player a lot more options, which can make the game a lot more exciting – and challenging. But giving the player more options reduces the house edge, so Spanish 21 compensates by using an altered deck. Let’s take a closer look at all these differences between blackjack and Spanish 21:
Spanish 21 Deck: Spanish 21 uses a typical 52-card deck – but without the four Tens. The removal of the Tens creates a 48-card deck, in which only 12 of the 48 cards (four jacks, four queens, and four kings) are worth ten. Because the high-value cards are so valuable to the player (for blackjack, doubling down, and busting the dealer), a Spanish 21 deck is decidedly in the house’s favor.
Doubling: In Spanish 21, players are allowed to double down on any number of cards, not just on the first two cards – as in blackjack. Moreover, some variations of Spanish 21 allow ‘redoubling,’ or doubling down on a hand that has already been doubled. Finally, after doubling down, surrendering is still an option. This action is often called ‘forfeit’ or ‘double down rescue.
Player 21: A player who arrives at a hand total of 21 always wins at a Spanish 21 table, regardless of the dealer’s hand.
Special Payouts: There are also special payouts for extraordinary hands:
seven-or-more-card 21 pays 3:1
six-card 21 pays 2:1
five-card 21 pays 3:2
6-7-8 of all spades pays 3:1
6-7-8 of all other suits pays 2:1
an unsuited 6-7-8 or a 7-7-7 pays 3:2
note: the above payouts do not apply if the hand was doubled
suited 7-7-7 versus a dealer 7 pays a bonus of $1000 for bets less than $25 and $5000 for $25+ bets. All other players at the table are paid a $50 bonus as well.
note: The above payout does not apply if the hand was split
Always Allowed: In addition to the above rules, the following are always allowed in Spanish 21, whereas in blackjack it depends on the table:
The dealer receives a hole card
Blackjack pays 3:2
Doubling after splitting (DAS)
Late spanish blackjack surrender
Drawing cards on split aces
Pontoon: In some variations of Spanish 21, called Pontoon, a few of the aforementioned options are not available to the player. Also, in Pontoon, Aces received prior to doubling have a fixed value of 1 – rather than 1 or 11.