How to Play Matchplay 21 Blackjack

In most cases we tell our readers to always stick to traditional blackjack games whenever possible, but the one exception in our books is when you can find a Match Play 21 table (also called Spanish 21) that uses six decks. The overall house odds on this game are well under 1% and it contains several exciting features that can earn the player serious money in mere minutes. Here’s how to play MatchPlay Blackjack like a pro-


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Standard Blackjack Rules

We’re pretty sure that most of our readers already know how to play standard blackjack; but just in case here are the basics. The object of blackjack is to get your hand closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand; it really is that simple. Here are the particulars-

– 2-9’s are worth face value, face cards are worth 10, aces are worth either 1 or 11.
– The dealer must stand on 17 and must hit on anything below 16
– Player can hit or stand any hand, split doubles, or double down on 9, 10, 11
– A hand that exceeds 21 automatically loses
– All ties are a push

Match Play Blackjack Rules

In the game of Match Play 21, there are a few deviations from the standard game. They are as follows-

– All tens are removed from the deck (the numerical cards, not the face cards)
– Dealer always hits soft 17, stands on hard 17
– A player blackjack beats a dealer blackjack, player 21 beats dealer 21 but not dealer blackjack (all other ties are a push)
– Players can double with any hand (once per hand, only one card given)
– Players can split any hand (up to three times per round)
– Players can surrender doubled hands for 50% payout

On top of the above rules, players are also eligible for a special payout each round and it does not require an extra wager. The bonus payouts are as follows-

MatchPlay 21 Pays 40:1 7-7-7 Spades Pays 3:1 
6-7-8 Spades Pays 3:1 7 Card 21 Pays 3:1
7-7-7 Suited Pays 2:1 6-7-8 Suited Pays 2:1
5 Card 21 Pays 2:1

Match Play 21 is when you are dealt two suited sevens and the dealer also shows a 7 as his up-card (dealer’s 7 does not have to be the same suit as yours). If you take a hit and receive a third suited 7, it automatically pays you 40:1 odds on your original bet. Now, the actual odds of this occurring are a heck of a lot higher than 40 to 1 but since it is included as a freebie then it’s hard to complain.

Match Play 21 Strategy

The strategy used in MatchPlay 21 is almost identical to traditional blackjack except for a few slight adjustments. For example, if you started with a hand with the 7/8 spades for a total of 15, in many cases you would stand under the traditional strategy rules if the dealer had a weak hand. In this instance, however, it often makes sense to take a hit and hope for the six of spades for the 3 to 1 payout…especially when you are not sure that your original hand will win outright.

Likewise, if the dealer is showing a 7-10 and you already have two suited sevens, it makes even more sense to take the hit and hope for one of the bonuses. It is a tossup whether or not you’d hit if the dealer showed a 4-6, of course, but we believe that you should always stick to the traditional blackjack strategy unless you have a shot at the Matchplay 21 bonus or your hand is going to lose.

In most cases, ignoring the extra bonuses is by far the best strategy but there will also be a few exceptions. First off, never split suited sevens; take the hit and hope for the extra bonus. The same goes for the rule of always splitting aces; some players believe that it makes more sense to take the hit and hope for a 5+ card 21 instead. Honestly it’s a tossup; two hands with aces and double the wager or hoping for three cards that equal up to nine or nineteen (for an extra free 2:1 odds)…neither play is really a bad move.