MENU

Get up to 19

exclusive bonuses

What's so special about

our bonus reviews?


  • only recommended casinos
  • full wagering requirements
  • terms & conditions analysis
  • bonus value calculation
We respect your privacy and won't share your email address.
[X] Close this form and return to site

Spanish 21 Blackjack

Introduction

Spanish 21 is a variant of the standard Blackjack game and is called ‘Pontoon’ in Australia, though for the rest of the world and online Pontoon is entirely separate game. Spanish 21 is played with a ‘Spanish’ deck, which is the standard 52 card deck with the 10 pip cards removed (the face cards, which are also counted at a value of 10 when play Blackjack are still in the deck). This leaves a deck of 48 cards.

We are currently aware of Super Fun 21 being offered by the following online casino softwares – Betsoft, GamesOS, Microgaming, OpenBet and RealTime Gaming. The Betsoft version of Spanish 21 is called ‘Pirate 21 Blackjack’ and the RealTime Gaming version is called ‘Match Play 21’.

Play Structure

Differences to standard Blackjack and rules that are standard to the online game;

 

·         Played with Spanish decks – standard 52 card deck with the 4 ten pip cards removed.

·         7 or more card 21 pays 3 to 1.

·         6 card 21 pays 2 to 1.

·         5 card 21 pays 3 to 2.

·         6-7-8 of mixed suit pays 3 to 2.

·         7-7-7 suited with dealer 7 face-up pays 50 to 1.

·         7-7-7 of Spades pays 3 to 1.

·         6-7-8 of Spades pay 3 to 1.

·         7-7-7 suited pays 2 to 1.

·         6-7-8 of Spades pays 3 to 1.

·         Bonus payouts do not apply after splitting or doubling.

·         Player Blackjack beats a dealer Blackjack.

·         Player 21 beat dealer 21.

·         Double on any number of cards.

·         Double up to twice.

·         Surrender after Double.

·         Hit Soft 17.

·         8 Decks.

·         Dealer peeks for Blackjack.

·         Re-Split to 4 hands.

·         Draw to Split Aces

·         Double After Split.

 

Other than the above the game functions as a standard Blackjack game in terms of the play of hands and how wins are decided.

Rule Variations

Over and above the above mentioned rules, the following online software providers offer slightly different rules as detailed;

Betsoft – 6 decks, No Insurance, Suited 7-7-7 with dealer face up 7 pays $1000 for bets of $5-$24 and $5000 for bets of $25 or over.

GamesOS – Standard rules as above.

Microgaming – Standard rules as above.

OpenBet – 6 decks, other rules unavailable, presumed standard.

RealTime Gaming – 6 decks, Can only double once

Optimal Strategy

Spanish 21, like Blackjack, has a Basic Strategy to minimise the House Edge. Due to the bonuses for varying multi-card 21s, this strategy is markedly more complex than more standard Blackjack games. There is a separate strategy if you’ve already Doubled once which is detailed below the standard table. The Basic Strategy chart for the different online rule sets can be found below;

Standard Rules

 

  Dealer’s Upcard
Player’s Hand 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 T A
5-7 H H H H D H H H H H
8 H H H D D H H H H H
9 H D3 D D D H H H H H
10 D4 D4 D D D D4 D4 H H H
11 D3 D4 D4 D4 D4 D4 D4 D3 D2 D2
12 H H H H H H H H H H
13 H H H H S3* H H H H H
14 H H S3* S4* S5* H H H H H
15 S3* S4* S5 S5 S H H H H H
16 S5 S5 S5 S S H H H H R
17 S S S S S S S5 S5 S5 R
18+ S S S S S S S S S S
A2 H D2 D D D H H H H H
A3 H D2 D3 D D H H H H H
A4 H H D3 D3 D4 H H H H H
A5 H H D2 D3 D4 H H H H H
A6 H H D2 D3 D4 H H H H H
A7 S3 S3 D3 D4 D5 S5 S3 H H H
A8 S S S S S S S S S5 S5
A9 S S S S S S S S S S
22 P P P P P P P H H H
33 P P P P P P P H H H
44 H H H D D H H H H H
55 D D D D D D D H H H
66 H H P P P H H H H H
77 P P P P P P* H H H H
88 P P P P P P P P P R
99 S P P P P S P P S S
TT S S S S S S S S S S
AA P P P P P P P P P P

 

Legend

Code Best Play
H Hit
S Stand
S3* Stand on 3 cards or fewer *unless 6-7-8 bonus is possible
S4* Stand on 4 cards or fewer *unless 6-7-8 bonus is possible
S5* Stand on 5 cards or fewer *unless 6-7-8 bonus is possible
D Double else Hit
D2 Double on 2 cards
D3 Double on 3 cards or fewer
D4 Double on 4 cards or fewer
D5 Double on 5 cards or fewer
P Split *unless suited 7s are possible
R Surrender

 

Post Double Strategy

  Dealer’s Upcard
Player’s Hand 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 T A
7 D D D D D D R R R R
8 D D D D D D D D R R
9 D D D D D D D D D D
10 D D D D D D D D D D
11 D D D D D D D D D D
12 S S S S S D D R R R
13 S S S S S S R R R R
14 S S S S S S R R R R
15 S S S S S S R R R R
16 S S S S S S R R R R
17 S S S S S S S S S R
18+ S S S S S S S S S S
A2 D D D D D D D D D D
A3 D D D D D D D D D D
A4 D D D D D D D D D D
A5 D D D D D D D D D D
A6 D D D D D D D D D D
A7 S S D D D S S S S S
A8 S S S S S S S S S S

 

Legend

Code Best Play
S Stand
D Double else Hit
R Surrender

 

Realtime Gaming (Match Play 21)

 

  Dealer’s Upcard
Player’s Hand 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 T A
5-8 H H H H H H H H H H
9 H H H H D H H H H H
10 D4 D4 D D D D3 D2 H H H
11 D3 D4 D4 D4 D4 D3 D3 D3 D2 D2
12 H H H H H H H H H H
13 H H H H S3 H H H H H
14 H H S3 S4 S5 H H H H H
15 S3 S4 S5 S5 S H H H H H
16 S5 S5 S5 S S H H H H R
17 S S S S S S S5 S5 S5 R
18+ S S S S S S S S S S
A2 H H H H H H H H H H
A3 H H H H H H H H H H
A4 H H H H D3 H H H H H
A5 H H H D2 D3 H H H H H
A6 H H D2 D3 D4 H H H H H
A7 S3 S3 D3 D4 D5 S5 S3 H H H
A8 S S S S S S S S S5 S5
A9 S S S S S S S S S S
22 P P P P P P H H H H
33 P P P P P P P H H H
44 H H H H H H H H H H
55 D D D D D D D H H H
66 H H P P P H H H H H
77 P P P P P P* H H H H
88 P P P P P P P P P R
99 S P P P P S P P S S
TT S S S S S S S S S S
AA P P P P P P P P P P

 

Legend

Code Best Play
H Hit
S Stand
S3* Stand on 3 cards or fewer *unless 6-7-8 bonus is possible, then Hit.
S4* Stand on 4 cards or fewer *unless 6-7-8 bonus is possible, then Hit.
S5* Stand on 5 cards or fewer *unless 6-7-8 bonus is possible, then Hit.
D Double else Hit
D2 Double on 2 cards
D3 Double on 3 cards or fewer
D4 Double on 4 cards or fewer
D5 Double on 5 cards or fewer
P Split *unless suited 7s are possible, then Hit.
R Surrender

 

It should be noted that when playing Pirate 21 at Betsoft casinos you should always wager either $5/hand or $25/hand as this maximises the suited 7-7-7 with dealer upcard 7 bonus.

Match the Dealer Side Bet

The Betsoft version of Spanish 21 (Pirate 21 Blackjack) offers a side bet that offers odds of 9 to 1 if one of the cards in your hand matches the dealer’s upcard in both suit and rank and 4 to 1 if one of the cards in your hand matches the dealer’s upcard in rank only.

HandProbabilityPayout
Both player cards match dealer's upcard in suit and rank0.00024365918 to 1
One player card matches dealer's upcard in suit and rank and the other matches rank0.00219292913 to 1
One player card matches dealer's upcard in suit and rank0.032164029 to 1
Both player cards match dealer's upcard in rank0.0037279798 to 1
One player card matches dealer's upcard in rank0.1157855924 to 1
House Edge3.06%

House Edge*

The House Edge for Spanish 21 is shown below for each known software provider;

Betsoft –
GamesOS – 0.35%
Microgaming – 0.35%
OpenBet –
Realtime Gaming – 0.73%*

*This figure varies depending on the number of decks in use.

Fairness Calculator

Below you can find a calculator to allow you to check the fairness of your wins/losses when playing Spanish 21.

*This fairness calculator will assume that you’ve been playing with the optimal strategy detailed above. If you have not then the calculator will NOT return accurate results.

Winning Strategies

Offline

Spanish 21 is likely to be vulnerable to all of the standard advantage play techniques that standard Blackjack can be beaten by. Unlike other Blackjack variants, beating Spanish 21 through the use of Card Counting has been covered in detail in Katerina Walker’s book ‘The Pro’s Guide to Spanish 21 and Australian Pontoon’. This book is well worth a read for anyone with access to a large number of Spanish 21 games.

Online

There are several methods of legitimately gaining an advantage playing online Spanish 21 games. By and large these involve the use of promotions, bonuses and comp point systems as the games by themselves – assuming the game is functioning in a correct fashion and there are no errors in the paytable – will not provide any additional information about the cards and shuffles after every hand.

It should be noted that online advantage play is not specific to Spanish 21 and in recent years the wagering requirements for player’s choosing to play any table game has inflated to the point that Spanish 21 is now often a sub-optimal choice for the player. For more information on beating online casinos see BeatingBonuses.com.

* All ‘House Edge’ figures in this article are based on the ‘loss per unit wagered’ rather than ‘loss per initial bet’.