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Match Play 21

Match Play 21 is a blackjack variant that is similar to Spanish 21.  Match Play 21 is the last way to play this type of game for most players as it has disappeared from Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and most regional casino markets in the U.S.

There are several differences between Match Play 21 and a traditional blackjack game.  The most important is that the 10’s are all taken out of the deck.  This only affects the actual 10 cards, not jacks, queens, or kings.  All face cards are still in the deck.  The reductions of stiff cards in the deck create several strategy changes because the dealer will bust less often.

Match Play 21 uses eight decks.  The cards are reshuffled after each hand.  The dealer hits soft 17.  Surrender is offered at most online casinos that spread Match Play 21.  Double down after splitting is permitted.

Unusual Match Play 21 Rules

  • Player count of 21 always wins
  • Player natural blackjack always wins 3-2, even when the dealer also has blackjack
  • Double down on any number of cards, even after hitting
  • Split aces may be hit and doubled
  • Player may surrender after doubling down and only loses the double down portion of bet

Unique Match Play 21 Payouts

There are some bonus hands in Match Play 21 that go beyond the getting paid even money on wins and 3-2 on blackjack.  These help make the game more fun and can change some playing decisions.

These bonuses are not paid when hands are split or doubled.  All payouts are based on the player’s hands.  There are no bonus pays when the dealer makes one of the hands described below.

  • Player suited 777 versus dealer 7: 40-1
  • 777 spades: 3-1
  • 678 spades: 3-1
  • 21 on 7 or more cards: 3-1
  • 777 suited: 2-1
  • 678 suited: 2-1
  • 6-card 21: 2-1
  • Unsuited 777: 3-2
  • Unsuited 678: 3-2
  • 5-card 21: 3-2

Strategy Differences Between Match Play 21 and Blackjack

  • Only double on 9 against a dealer’s 6
  • Always hit 12
  • Hit 13 against all dealer cards except 6, unless the 13 consists of 4 or more cards
  • Hit 14 except against a 4, 5, or 6, unless the player’s 14 is 4 or more cards, then hit
  • Hit 15 against 2-5 on 6 or more cards
  • Hit 16 against 2-4 on 6 or more cards

Players that follow basic strategy will experience a house advantage of .81%.

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