Blackjack Variations: Matchplay 21

Variety is the spice of life. That’s what my wife always tried to tell me back in the 70’s when she was going through her “swinger phase.” We made a lot of lasting friendships during that time, though, so I can’t complain. However, I can’t help but notice that none of our kids look like me…

Anyway, for those who love variety in their casino games, blackjack has what you need. I write about blackjack for a living and still rarely a week goes by in which I don’t learn about a blackjack variation that I didn’t know existed. Today I’m writing about matchplay 21.

Matchplay 21 is a popular blackjack variation that can be found in both land-based and online casinos. The rules and strategy for the game as basically the same as in traditional blackjack, except that there are bonuses for a number of different hands. Also, it is always played with two decks but with all of the tens removed. There are still the face cards (Jack, Queen, King) that are worth ten points, though.

By removing the tens, your chances of drawing a natural blackjack, which pays 3:1, are reduced. However, your odds of getting some of the bonuses are increased. In matchplay 21, the players compete against the dealer as normal, with the players getting two cards face up and the dealer getting one hole card and one up card. In this blackjack variation, the dealer must stand on a soft 17.

While a two-card blackjack pays 3:1, a hand of 21 with five cards pays 3:2. A hand of 21 composed of six cards pays 2:1. If you have a hand of 21 using seven cards or more, that pays 3:1.

Most of the bonuses in this game are all about the sevens, though. A hand that has a six, seven and eight pays out 3:2, as does any combination of three sevens. Three sevens in the same suit pays out 2:1. A combination of six, seven and eight in all spades has a payout of 3:1, as does three sevens in all spades. The big bonus, however, is the “matchplay 21,” after which the game is named. For this bonus, the player has to have three sevens while the dealer has a single seven. If that happens, the payout is 40:1. Not too bad. Obviously, that doesn’t happen a whole lot, though.

While I still prefer the traditional game of blackjack and will always remain true to it, sometimes you just need a break from doing the same thing and want more variety in your life. Occasionally playing other games isn’t wrong; it’s just keeping your options open and doing what it takes to keep you happy. At least, that’s how my wife would have seen it. We’re fine now, though. The 70’s, however, that was a rough time.

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