Spanish 21 was introduced into Nevada casinos about l995 by a former mid-level management casino employee who was looking for a version of blackjack that might spice up participation and provide entertainment. He hit upon a variation of the "traditional" 2l . using what is called a "Spanish deck" with 48 cards in it. In the six-deck shoe used for this game, there are no 10s to be found. You'll see Kings, Queens and Jacks, but no 10s.
Clearly, without the 10, the house should have a heck of an edge. But the rules of play and the payoffs actually become more lucrative for the player -- thus the house edge becomes 0.8 percent for those who play the proper strategy. This is the same house edge one would probably find playing against a two-deck shoe in regular blackjack.
Here are key rules worth noting if you plan to play:
- All player blackjacks beat dealer blackjacks and are paid at 3 for 2.
- All player totals of 2l beat dealer 2ls and other ties are pushes.
- Players are allowed to double down on any number of cards
- Players may also double down after splitting and may double down for less the original bet.
- Players may also resplit up to four hands, including Aces.
The game also features "Bonus 2l" payoffs:
- Any 5-card 2l, (pays 3 for 2)
- Any 6-card 2l (pays 2 for l)
- Any 7-card-or-better 2l (pays 3 for 1)
- 6-7-8 mixed suits (pays 3 for 2)
- 6-7-8 of the same suit (pays 2 for l)
- 6-7-8 all Spades (pays 3 for l).
- 7-7-7 mixed suits (pays 3 for 2)
- 7-7-7 same suit (pays 2 for l)
- 7-7-7 all Spades (pays 3 for l).
Late Surrender is allowed (dealer must check for blackjack); there is what is called double down "rescue" where the player can surrender the original bet, but save the double down bet. This doesn't apply after the hand is busted.
There's real incentive to go after, or watch for the three suited 7s when the dealer shows any 7 upcard, because there's a free "Super Jackpot" (check the rules where you happen to be playing in case they vary on this proposition) of $l,000. In addition, all your fellow players involved in a hand each receive $50 should this unique hand occur.
An excellent resource is available to guide beginnes to correct strategy for this interesting game. It is titled Expert Strategy for Spanish 2l by Lenny Frome ($4.95, paperbound, l0 pages).
Another excellent resource for those planning to attack the game is titled Armada Strategies for Spanish 2l by Frank Scoblete (l37 pages, paperbound. $l2.95). He says there are 53 strategy differences between regular blackjack and Spanish 2l. His interesting charts compare the two.
The book should appeal to beginners who like to play a variety of games, or try new ones as they are offered, and to the steady, experienced, blackjack player who wishes to test his or her skills in this exciting, higher payoff version of blackjack..