Spanish 21 Terms

Action

The amount of cash that a particular player is planning on wagering during a Spanish 21 session. It can also refer to the total amount of cash, in casino chip form, on the table at any point in time. Sometimes it’s also used in relation to which player’s turn it is at the table.

Bankroll

Many players will have a fixed amount of cash set aside for use in a Spanish 21 game; this is known as their bankroll. Bankroll management is a wise practice at it limits your losses and ensures you’re keeping track of your wins and losses across all sessions.

Basic Strategy

A strategy that many players follow to attain the best odds of having a winning session. Following basic strategy provides the lowest possible house edge for the player. Spanish 21 basic strategies are slightly different to blackjack due to the different rules. You can find many basic strategy charts online and in casino gift shops that advise what to do in any situation.

Bet

The money that a player wagers on a hand in Spanish 21.

Bet Sizing

If a player is trying to count cards, then they may alter the size of their bet when the deck is favorable or unfavorable. This is known as bet sizing, and it can be a dead giveaway to casinos that players are trying to count cards.

Bet Spread

The difference between a player’s largest and smallest bets. Quite often basic strategy will dictate that you should keep your bets consistent.

Blackjack

A very similar game that Spanish 21 is based upon. The basic premise still remains the same with the player trying to achieve a higher score than the dealer without going over 21 or having the dealer bust. The main differences come into the game with the removal of the four tens from the deck and the decisions that players have after they’re dealt their cards. One major positive for players is the fact you’re paid out immediately if you a hit a 21.

Bust

When you hit and the card takes your total count over 21, then you bust and lose your wager. Similarly, if the dealer goes over 21 they bust and all remaining active players will win on their bet.

Bust Card

A card that the dealer or player receives which push their total over 21, resulting in a bust.

Burn Card

When a shuffle occurs the first card that is dealt after it is to be burnt and not used.

Buy in

The amount of money that a player sits down with in a game of Spanish 21.

Card Counting

Players can count cards in Spanish 21, in a similar way to what they do in blackjack. They assign number values to certain cards in order to determine a running count. When that running count becomes favorable to the player they bet larger amounts, and when the count is bad they return to their flat minimum bet amount. If you plan on counting cards in Spanish 21 you’ll need to follow a slightly different system than counting cards in blackjack. Counting cards isn’t illegal, however, the casinos will frown upon it and will most likely remove you from the game, and maybe the premises.

Chips

Small plastic discs used in casinos to represent money. They can also be made from clay or other materials as well. Players can get chips at the table or from the cage.

Continuous Shuffling Machine or CSM

A machine used by many casinos which requires no shuffling or breaks in the game. The dealer feeds used cards into the rear of the machine and it continuously shuffles them and then releases a certain amount into a buffer for dealing. The use of a continuous shuffling machine very slightly reduces the house edge for the player.

Counter

A member of a card counting team that keeps track of the current count and signals to other players who alter their bets accordingly. The counter usually just flat minimum bets so as to not draw any suspicion.

Cut Card

A plastic card that is used to cut the cards once they’ve been shuffled.

Dealer

The casino employee who deals the cards and manages the game. They also have a hand that players must beat in order to win.

Double or Double Down

Something unique about Spanish 21 is the fact you can double down at any point in the hand. In blackjack, you can only double in some circumstances on two cards. To double down you simply add another wager to match your original one and you’ll receive one more card only. This is a strong move when you have 10 or 11 and the dealer has a weak up card such as a 5 or 6. In Spanish 21 you can surrender after doubling, meaning you take back your double bet and lose your initial wager, and the hand is over for you. Learn more about the rules of Spanish 21 in the Wikipedia page.

Double Down Rescue

The ability in Spanish 21 to surrender after a double down. You’ll get your double down bet back and lose your initial wager.

Envy Bonus

A $50 reward to all players at a table whenever one player hits the super bonus.

Face Cards

Jacks, queens, and kings are known as face cards and have a value of ten in Spanish 21. As the ten cards are removed these are the only cards with this value.

First Base

The position to the immediate left of the dealer and the first to act. Cheats sometimes sit in this position to try and see the dealer’s face down card.

Hard Hand

A hand value which doesn’t have an ace or the ace is being used with a value of 1 to avoid busting.

Heads Up

When only one player is on a table playing against the dealer.

Hit

Asking the dealer for another card to improve your hand. You can do this verbally and by tapping the table. Most casinos now like you to do this by tapping the table so a visual record of play is kept by the cameras.

Hole Card

The dealer’s second card which is dealt face down until all other action on the table is complete. In some games, the hole card won’t be dealt at all, with the dealer simply taking a second card from the deck once the action is complete and it’s their turn. It just depends on where you’re playing and what the rules are at that particular casino.

Insurance

If the dealer’s face-up card is an ace, players can purchase insurance which is another bet that is paid out at 2 to 1 if the dealer hits a blackjack. If the dealer doesn’t hit the blackjack, then the players lose their bet. This generally isn’t a great bet to take due to the high house edge.

Live Spanish 21

The game played with real cards and a dealer in a bricks and mortar casino.

Martingale System

A betting system whereby players double their bet if they lose. Theoretically, they will always eventually win a hand and then return to their starting wager. This can get out of control very quickly though and losing 5 to 10 hands in a row is not that uncommon in Spanish 21.

Natural

Achieving a blackjack with the first two cards dealt, comprising of an ace and a face card. Unlike blackjack, if you achieve a 21 in Spanish 21 you’re paid out immediately, even if the dealer has the potential to also get a 21.

Online Spanish 21

The game played digitally on an online casino. Sometimes this is fully digital using a random number generator, or it can be partially digital with a video link to a live dealer and actual cards.

Pat Hand

If you’re dealt two cards which equal a 17 or above, this is a pat hand, as you’ll always stand regardless of the dealer’s up card.

Pays the Table

When everyone on the table beats the dealer and is paid out as a winner.

Pontoon

Another name for Spanish 21. The rules are basically the same except in Australia where Pontoon is almost a completely different game.

Poor

If there are very few of a particular card left in the deck. This is a term used by card counting teams.

Positive Count

When there’s a positive count on the deck it’s time to bet big. Card counters like positive counts because it means there are lots of aces and tens in the deck.

Press

If you’re running hot, you may wish to press your bets by increasing them. This is generally a bad idea and could result in a massive swing and big losses.

Push

When a player and the dealer end up with the same value it’s a push and the player’s bet is returned.

Random Number Generator or RNG

A complex computer program that generates a completely random set of numbers as defined by the parameters built into the system. In Spanish 21 these are used online and for video-based machines. The random number generator, or RNG for short, will randomize the order of the deck, which is essentially a virtual shuffle. This random deck is then dealt as normal. Every single occurrence is independent of previous shuffles.

Rich

Another term used by counters when the deck has a lot of a certain card left.

Round

A complete hand in Spanish 21 from when the cards are dealt to when the final bet is paid out or lost.

Shoe

A plastic or wooden device that holds shuffled cards ready to be dealt.

Soft

A hand which is using an ace with a value of 11. If you hold an ace and a 7, then this is a soft 18. The player can use a soft hand to try and improve without running the risk of busting. This is because an ace can also be used as a 1 if using it as an 11 would put you over 21.

Spanish Deck

The card deck used in Spanish 21. It’s the same as a normal deck of cards except it only has 48 cards because the tens are removed from the deck. This favors the house in the game, however, some of this is offset by the favorable rules such as doubling down at any time, late surrender, the fact blackjack or 21 is always paid, and more.

Split

When you’re dealt two cards of the same rank you can match your initial bet and split them out into two hands. In Spanish 21 you can also double after a split, and split aces and play them as a normal hand. This is a major advantage in Spanish 21, when compared to blackjack, which doesn’t always allow double after splitting or the playing of aces after a split.

Spooking

When a member of a blackjack count team is trying to see the dealer’s face down card from another spot in the casino they are spooking.

Spotter

The same as a counter in a blackjack team. They keep a count on the cards and instruct other players in their team to bet large when the deck is favorable.

Stand

Indicating to the dealer that you’re happy with your hand and you’ll remain on your current value to face off against the dealer. Usually, this is indicated at a live Spanish 21 table by waving your hand horizontally across the top of your cards.

Stiff

Being dealt between 12 and 16 for your first two cards. These aren’t great as you bust with a lot of cards but you pretty much have to hit to improve your hand, depending on what the dealer holds.

Super Bonus

A bonus payout when a player hits a 21 with three sevens and the dealer is also showing a 7. The payout increases relative to the original bet size. You can also get bonus payouts for hitting 21 with 6,7,8 and 7,7,7 and for hitting blackjacks with five or more cards. These bonuses vary from casino to casino, so be sure to check out the rules wherever you play.

Surrender

In some casinos, you have the option of surrendering your hand and receiving half of your bet back. In Spanish 21 you can also surrender after a double and receive your double bet back while losing your initial bet, this is known as double down rescue. You can also late surrender in Spanish 21.

Third Base

The last position to act in the Spanish 21 game. This person sits to the immediate right of the dealer on the far left-hand side of the table. It’s considered a powerful position as you see more cards before acting and your action can directly impact the dealer’s action.

Up Card

In a Spanish 21 game, the dealer will give every player two cards face up; they’ll also either give themselves one face up card and nothing else, or two cards with one of these face-up. This provides information to the players and will impact the action that they take when it’s their turn.

Additional Resources