How to Play Spanish 21 Blackjack & Is it Better Than Traditional Blackjack?

In this day and age of digitalization, it is pretty amazing to see that a simple casino game like blackjack has been able to maintain its popularity in the face of state-of-the-art technology. The reason behind its perseverance might be because three decades after its invention, people are still finding ways to come up with new variations of the classic card game.

One such variation is Spanish 21 Blackjack, a unique version that can be found mostly at online casinos. Most blackjack players who have never tried playing it before will find its rules somewhat similar to traditional blackjack, but there are also lots of things different about it. In fact, many would go as far as saying that it’s even better than regular blackjack. So let’s take a closer look to see if this is true or not.

How to Play Spanish 21 Blackjack & Is it Better Than Traditional Blackjack?

What is Spanish 21 Blackjack?

Spanish 21 Blackjack is an exciting and fast-paced variant of the classic card game. It is played with a standard 52-card deck plus one Joker. The Joker acts as the only wild card in this variant, and it can replace any other card in order to form a winning hand. This is why players won’t find Spanish 21 Blackjack listed under the Wild Card category when playing at online casinos.

How to Play Spanish 21 Blackjack?

The game is played with six standard decks of 52 cards plus one Joker. The players’ goal is to secure a hand that will yield 21 points or as close as possible without exceeding it. Scoring more than 21 will result in a bust, and the player will lose his wager immediately. On the other hand, the dealer must end the round with at least 17 points but not over 21. If the dealer exceeds 21 points, the player automatically wins.

As mentioned previously, this blackjack variant has a lot more in common with traditional blackjack than other variants, even though there are a few key differences that players will want to note before they sit down inside a casino.

The basic premise is straightforward, which means that anyone looking for an easy transition from traditional blackjack to another version should have no issues adapting. Obviously, cards have different values, but since most players only use the numerical value of their first two cards when deciding what action to take, it makes little difference. In general, all face cards have a value of 10 points, while all numbers are worth their numerical amount.

A significant difference with Spanish 21 Blackjack is how the dealer determines what stance to take on their turn. Instead of checking for blackjack, hitting if they have 16 points or less, and standing if they have 17 points or more like most versions of blackjack, this game has many different variables that make game-play more exciting. For starters, naturals are not worth 3:2 as usual but instead are only worth even money which is calculated by adding up all your bets and seeing how much you stand to win.

For instance, let’s say that you risk $20 first and then receive an Ace and 5 point card for 19 total points. Your action is clear; double down since your total is less than 21. If you received a King and 6 point card, your total would have been 20, which means that you should stand because your initial wager was only $20.

Another difference with this version of blackjack is that all face cards (10’s) are treated like nines (9) when they are counted as points instead of 10, Jacks count as 9, Queens count as 8, and Kings count as 7. This makes it more challenging to bust since the value of 10’s is reduced but also means that players will need to do some extra adding up before committing to an action. Regardless of these minor changes, Spanish 21 Blackjack can actually be played exactly like traditional blackjack players make decisions based on the cards they have, doubling down when it is beneficial and sticking with a hand that will total closer to 21 than the dealer’s so long as they don’t go over.

The one exception is the fact that players can surrender their hands whenever they want for half of what they initially wagered, which means you can get out of a bad situation without losing everything. This eliminates a lot of the risk involved when playing blackjack since your money is never in jeopardy if you walk away from a hand when it isn’t going your way.

Spanish 21 Rules

  • If a player manages to get 21 points with 5 cards, they automatically win regardless of whether or not the dealer’s hand has exceeded it. This is called a Five Card Trick.
  • The Jack of Spades, along with an Ace, forms an automatic winning combination. This is more commonly referred to as a blackjack.
  • If players get two identical cards that add up to 21, they will also win regardless of whether or not it busts or not. For instance, if you have two 6’s, this will yield 12 points, and if your point total is 7 (from another card), your total is automatically 21, and you win.
  • The player’s cards will be placed face up while the dealer’s will always remain face down.
  • Players can double their wager any time before the dealer checks for blackjack. However, to do this, they must place another bet equal to their initial wager (which they wish to double).
  • Players can purchase insurance when they turn to act upon the deck by doubling their wager again. When the dealer turns up an Ace, players will choose to either collect 2:1 or take out insurance offered at even money (1:1).

Types of Spanish 21 Blackjack Bets

There are five types of bets in Spanish 21 Blackjack, which include the following:


This is the player’s first wager which will be placed before even one card has been dealt. Players can win double their initial bet whenever they get a blackjack or an Ace + 10 point card, but if they hit 21 with 5 cards, they automatically win without placing another wager.

Pair Plus

If players have two identical 10 point cards, then their total would be 20 points. If this beats the dealer’s hand, then players can collect 2 times their bet right away just for hitting a pair, plus it pays out at even money (1 to 1). So, for example, if you have two Jacks, then the payout would be 10:1 (instead of the standard 3:2).


After players receive their two initial down cards, if they have two identical cards, then they can split them up and place a bet for each card individually. They will need to place an additional wager equal to their initial ante and play out both hands as separate entities.


Players who wish to double the value of their original ante can do so at any time before checking on the dealer’s hand. However, to do this, the player must first put another bet which is equivalent to their existing one so that it becomes a total bet of 2 times their initial ante. For instance, if your initial wager was $5, you need to put down another $5 to make it a total bet of $10.

All doubling and splitting bets are paid 1:1, which means that players will earn the same amount as their initial wager whenever they win.


There is only one instance when the option for surrender becomes available, and this takes place if the player’s hand totals 16 or less after splitting their cards (if applicable). In this scenario, players can forfeit half of their original ante bet instead of playing out the hand, or they can bow out by forfeiting both bets entirely.

Spanish 21 Blackjack Strategy & House Edge

Even though it may seem that there is no strategy involved in Spanish 21 Blackjack, it is still a good idea to follow the basic blackjack strategy whenever you can. This will help to minimize the house edge and make the game more enjoyable for everyone who participates.

Spanish 21 Blackjack vs. Regular Blackjack

Spanish 21 is a very simple variant of blackjack that beginners and advanced players alike can enjoy. It has the best aspects of traditional blackjack without any clunky rules, which can turn some people off from playing.

The basic premise behind Spanish 21 blackjack remains the same as other versions, but there are quite a few critical variations. One significant difference is that it uses all face cards (Jacks, Queens, Kings) as 10 point cards rather than having 10’s, Jacks, Queens, and Kings assigned their own value. In addition, 2’s have been removed from play entirely, which means that players cannot bust if they receive one as part of their total. Players who receive a 2 as an initial card will simply have 21 points and stand.

Another difference is that there are no traditional blackjacks in Spanish 21 which means that players must stay with a final total of 17 or less if they do not bust. In essence, a player can automatically win without going to a showdown by getting a natural (blackjack). Still, otherwise, the dealer will always win because he will have a higher hand whenever there is a tie around. This takes away from some of the suspense since players know for sure what their fate will be before it even happens instead of waiting until all cards have been dealt.

In terms of strategy, most basic blackjack strategies still apply here, which means that you should always hit if your total is under 16, and you should always double down if your total is 10 or 11. As long as you adhere to these guidelines, both of which are based on your first 2 cards’ numerical value, you will know what to do in most situations and can concentrate on having fun instead of worrying about making the wrong decision.

As far as the house edge goes, Spanish 21 Blackjack has a higher one than other variants because the payout for a natural (blackjack) is reduced from 3:2 to even money (1:1). Some players may not like this, but it does help speed up gameplay since there is no need for rounds that go into crunch time before everyone knows who wins.

One final difference worth mentioning is that all face cards have a value of 10 points instead of having 10’s, Jacks, Queens, and Kings assigned their own values. Other than that, this game is played like other forms of blackjack; players should try to beat the dealer by getting as close to 21 as possible without going over while also having a higher total than the dealer.

Since winnings are based on the initial wager (ante), which can be pretty small compared to traditional blackjack, players will notice it does not take much skill or staying power to come out on top. This is because so little money is at risk during each hand since you only bet what you have in front of you upon sitting down at the table. Therefore, as long as you keep playing, there is no reason for this game not to be profitable as long as the number of decks is kept consistent.


Spanish 21 is a fun way to play blackjack that adds some flavor without complicating things too much. Since it is so easy to follow, players of any skill level should be able to jump right into the action without having to even think about strategy beforehand. This means you can enjoy the cards as they are dealt and know for sure if your fate will be sealed or not after just one round instead of wondering how far away you are from winning until all the rounds have been completed.

The only real downside to this game is that it comes with a lower payout on natural (blackjacks) than other variations, which helps speed up game-play. Still, it takes some excitement away since there is no doubt about who has won unless the player busts (goes over 21). However, this is not a massive issue since natural blackjacks are relatively common, especially in six-deck games, so it should happen enough times to keep everyone involved until the end.

After knowing what you must do, all that is left is to decide if you want to play this game or stick with traditional blackjack.