Blackjack has earned a lot of respect among gamblers because, unlike most other casino games, you can bring some skill to the table. The pundits are most likely to tell you that the house edge in blackjack is pretty good, too. But there is one problem with standard blackjack: it’s not the most generous version of this game that you can play.
Although most people have learned to avoid single deck blackjack games that pay only 6:5 odds the majority of players are most comfortable in playing standard blackjack with 6 to 8 decks in the shoe because they like those 3:2 odds. But there is another way to enjoy this game with a slight advantage over the usual blackjack player.
If your casino offers Spanish 21 you should try it out. Although there are several rule differences between regular blackjack and Spanish 21 the most distinctive difference is that the Spanish 21 game is played without any 10 point cards. In other words, a Spanish 21 deck has 48 cards (all the face cards are left in) instead of 52 cards. By removing those 10 point cards the game reduces the chances of either player or dealer drawing a natural 21.
The downside to playing Spanish 21 is that the theoretical house edge is about 3% versus the 1% in standard blackjack. But cheer up! There are some unusual rewards in Spanish 21. Foremost among those player advantages is the fact that players always win 21 to 21. Even when the dealer has a blackjack you win if you also have a blackjack. Better yet, the house pays 3:2 on player blackjack instead of a push.
You can also split Aces a second time in Spanish 21. Okay, you may not be very likely to be dealt three or four Aces but in the rare event when this happens you can split again.
Why play Spanish 21 if the house edge is worse than in standard blackjack? There is really too much discussion of “the house edge” among gambling pundits. Technically the edge is only realized across a large number of bets, which means the house sometimes does better than you expect and sometimes worse. That volatility is a good thing because it means that sometimes players can win a lot of money.
Instead of comparing house edge statistics look at the flexibility and greater rewards you get when you play Spanish 21. It will break you out of your comfort zone but you’ll be happily surprised when you are paid better odds for some combinations that don’t pay well in regular blackjack.
You just may never want to play blackjack again.