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Match play 21 shares much in common with Spanish 21 and Australian pontoon, including non-standard decks and bonus payouts for specific hands, but there are a few unique quirks which make this a game all of its own. Here’s our rundown on the rules, strategy and house edge of matchplay 21, as well as where to play real money games online.
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This is one of the variants that issues varied rewards for different card combinations. While most of the rules are the same as traditional Blackjack, “MatchPlay 21” is played with two decks that have all of the “ten” cards removed.
By removing the tens it makes it difficult to hit “blackjack”, but it greatly increases a player’s chance of getting some sevens, and that is how the payouts are created.
While most of the standard rules apply around “standing”, “hitting”, “doubling down”, “splitting” and “surrendering”, for “MatchPlay 21” the rules state:
- The dealer must stand on a “hard” seventeen. This means if the dealer’s initial hand is made up of a seven and a face card such as a Jack, Queen or King then the dealer cannot take any further cards.
- The dealer must stand on a “soft” eighteen. This means that once a dealer reaches a total of eighteen through their initial hand and any “hits” they cannot take anymore cards.
- “Surrendering” is available at any time, which is unusual in many casinos today, where surrendering is quite limited.
- “Splitting” is allowed on no more than three hands, and no “blackjack” rewards are won from a split hand.
- “Double down” is available only once per hand.
- A player is allowed to “hit” after they have split, and splitting Aces is permitted.
- The triple seven reward is not paid after a split or a double down.
The anytime surrender rule is the big one here, as it means you can even cut your losses after doubling (known as “double down rescue”). Liberal rules on when you can double down also limit the house edge, as do the player-friendly interpretations for natural blackjacks.
In some versions, especially at Internet casinos, you can double down on any number of cards, which greatly improves the player’s odds. Rules regarding split Aces can vary widely, while some variants allow you to split pairs up to four hands.
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Players win on the following combinations:
- Blackjack from two cards in the first hand wins a three to one return on the wager.
- Three sevens for the player and a single seven in the hand of the dealer is the “MatchPlay
- 21” winning hand and returns a forty to one ratio.
- Triple sevens in all spades win a three to one payout.
- A six, seven, eight combination in all spades wins a three to one payout.
- A total of twenty-one from seven cards or more pays a three to one payout.
- Three sevens in the same suit deliver a two to one payout.
- A six, seven, eight combination pays a two to one payout.
- A twenty-one composed of six cards pays two to one.
- Any combination of three sevens brings in a three to two payout.
- Any six, seven, eight combination yields a three to two ratio reward.
- A twenty-one composed of five cards pays three to two on the bet.
- Any combination that creates twenty-one pays even money or a one to one payment on the wager.
- A tie, or “push” between the dealer and player means no one wins or loses.