Spanish 21 is an exciting blackjack variant with a surprisingly low house edge. It has fewer cards, bigger payouts, and a few unique rules that stack the deck in your favor. Pontoon, Pirate 21, and Spanish Blackjack are just a few of the other names you’ll find this game under at the casino.
Our Spanish 21 guide explains the rules, gameplay, and strategy adjustments to beat the house and win more often. We’ll also show you the best places to play this famous blackjack variant online for real money.
Everything You Need to Play & Win
What is Spanish 21?
Spanish 21 is a casino card game invented in 1995 by casino equipment vendor Masque Publishing. They started tinkering with the standard rules of blackjack to preserve the essential structure and gameplay but add entertainment value.
It has a unique payout structure and one creative change to the deck; there are no tens. Today, you’ll find Spanish 21 with a house edge as low as 0.4% in several land-based and online casinos.
Spanish 21 Rules
The rules of Spanish 21 are similar to standard casino blackjack. Your goal is to beat the dealer by getting closer to 21 without going over. Anything above that is a bust that results in an automatic loss, so be careful!
Spanish 21 vs. Blackjack
While the rules are similar, there are a few key differences between the classic blackjack you know and love and the Spanish 21 variant. The addition of these rules paired with a dealer hitting on soft 17 can drive the house edge down to a meager 0.4%.
Player Blackjack Wins
Bonus Hand Payouts
Surrender Any Time
Spanish 21 Payouts
The unique hands in Spanish 21 have extremely favorable payouts. Several conditions award you with a 2 to 1 or even 3 to 1 prize. That’s one of the most significant factors that nudge this game’s house edge down even lower than standard blackjack.
Keep this table handy when making decisions on hitting and standing. It helps remind you of the hands that are unique to this variant.
|Dealer/Player||Blackjack||2-Card 21||3:2 (Player Wins the Tie)|
|Player||Blackjack||2-Card 21||3:2 (First Hand Only)|
|Player||5 Card 21||21 on 5 Cards||3:2 (Non-Doubled Hands)|
|Player||6 Card 21||21 on 6 Cards||2:1 (Non-Doubled Hands)|
|Player||7 Card 21||21 on 7 Cards||3:1 (Non-Doubled Hands)|
|Player||Mixed 6 7 8||6 7 8 Mixed Suits||3:2 (Non-Doubled Hands)|
|Player||Suited 6 7 8||6 7 8 Same Suit||2:1 (Non-Doubled Hands)|
|Player||Spades 6 7 8||6 7 8 All Spades||3:1 (Non-Doubled Hands)|
|Player||Mixed 7 7 7||7 7 7 Mixed Suits||3:2 (Non-Doubled Hands)|
|Player||Suited 7 7 7||7 7 7 Same Suit||2:1 (Non-Doubled Hands)|
|Player||Spades 7 7 7||7 7 7 All Spades||3:1 (Non-Doubled Hands)|
|Player/Dealer||777 / Up 7||Dealer Shows 7 & Player Has 777||$1,000 – $5,000 Jackpot|
|Player||Other Winning Hands||No ties||1:1|
Best Casinos to Play Spanish 21 Online
Spanish 21 is available at several online casinos. Sign up for an account at any of the following gambling sites to play for real money today.
|RANK||ONLINE CASINO||BLACKJACK GAMES||BONUS||START|
|1||BetUS||BLACKJACK GAMES 33||BONUS 150% up to $3,000||Play Now|
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|4||Super Slots||BLACKJACK GAMES 14||BONUS 250% up to $6,000||Play Now|
A Game of Many Names
If the site doesn’t have a license agreement with the original developers of Spanish 21, Masque Publishing, then the game will be listed under a different name. Pontoon, Pirate 21, and Pirate Blackjack are some of the title changes, but the base rules carry over.
Look for the following logos for the same exciting action. Just know that some versions might have slightly different rules.
Play Spanish 21 Online for Free
Practice your tactics right here for free. Use the Spanish 21 strategy cheat sheet on this Pirate 21 game below to understand the rules before playing for real money. They have the same cards and payouts, but this version has a match side bet.
Try Your Luck and Play Pirate 21 for Real Money
How to Play Spanish 21
A hand of Spanish 21 plays just like traditional blackjack. Below we’ll show you how a hand progresses from the initial bet to the payouts.
Place Your BetsTo see your hand and the dealer’s up-card, you need to make a wager. Move your chips to the betting area to indicate you’re ready to play.
Dealing the CardsAt the start of a hand, the dealer passes out the cards. Just like regular blackjack, you’ll get two face-up cards, and the dealer will get one face-up and one face-down. Remember, you won’t see any tens.
Hit, Stand, Double, Split, or SurrenderNow that you have your cards, you need to make some decisions before setting your hand. You can hit for more cards, split pairs, pay more and double down, or surrender to reclaim some of your initial bet.
There are fewer tens, so you can hit more often, but don’t take too many cards, or you might bust. When you’re happy with your hand, you can stand, indicating to the dealer that you are done.
The Dealer Completes Their HandWhen all players complete their hands, the game passes to the dealer. They must abide by house rules when hitting and determining when to stand.
Deciding WinnersFinally, they weigh all the player’s hands against their own to determine the winners. If your hand beats the house, then you’ll get rewarded based on the paytable.
Spanish 21 Strategy
The strategy in Spanish 21 is a little bit different from blackjack since there are fewer ten-valued cards in the deck. Let’s look at some of the changes to standard gameplay that help you stay ahead of the dealer.
Stand & Hit
Always stand when you hold a hard 18 or greater. The same goes for any soft hand equal or higher to 19.
You should always hit when you hold a hard 4, 5, 6, 12, or 13.
You should always double down when you have a hard 11.
If the dealer shows a 4, 5, or 6, you should double with a hard 9-11, and when you have a soft 13 to 18.
Always split a pair of aces and never split a pair of 4s or 5s.
When you hold a pair of 2s, 3s, 7s, or 8s, you should only split when the dealer shows between 2 and 7 up.
Note: Each Spanish 21 card game might have slightly different rules that affect the game’s odds. The house edge varies between 0.4% and 0.8% depending on how many the decks are in the shoe, when you can double, and whether the dealer has to hit on soft 17.
Basic Spanish 21 Strategy Chart
This Spanish 21 cheat sheet shows you the best decision in all starting situations. It is slightly different from the standard blackjack strategy chart since there are fewer cards in each deck.
Keep this Spanish 21 chart with you at the table so you can hit, stand, double, and split with the odds in your favor every time.
The Spanish 21 House Edge is Better
Spanish 21 is perfect for blackjack fans that want a slightly lower house edge of only 0.4%. The unique rule and deck changes combined with the bonus payouts mean big wins are in your future.
Sign up at one of the recommended casinos on this page to start playing today! They all have lucrative bonus offers with banking methods you can trust.
Spanish 21 Card Game FAQ
Below are a couple of common questions players ask about spanish 21.
Why is it called Spanish 21?
The Spanish 21 card game in casinos gets its name from the deck it uses. A “Spanish deck” is almost the same as a normal deck, except it only has 48 cards because the tens are removed.
Is Spanish 21 better than blackjack?
With favorable rules and perfect strategy, the house edge of Spanish 21 is a touch lower (0.4%) than standard blackjack tables (0.5%). That said, they do have slightly different decks and charts, so make sure you study each game closely before you play.
Can you count cards in Spanish 21?
Yes, you can count cards in Spanish 21. Like other blackjack tables, you would assign number values to certain cards to determine a running count. This can help you predict if the next card in the shoe is likely to be a high or lower value.
However, these strategies don’t work at online casinos. The single-player nature of software-based games doesn’t give you much to count, and the shoe usually gets shuffled after every hand.
Is Pirate 21 the same as Spanish 21?
Pirate 21, or Pirate Blackjack, is the same game as Spanish 21. The name ‘Spanish 21’ belongs to developer Masque Publishing, so any site without that specific version uses different branding. The rules, house edge, and side bets are generally the same.