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Matchplay 21 is another variation of blackjack that was initially found in online casinos. It has recently begun to appear in brick-and-mortar casinos and is gaining popularity among blackjack players worldwide.

In an effort to expose more casino visitors to table games such as blackjack, gaming companies have focused on developing games which add the element of bonus payouts and jackpots. Matchplay 21 is one of these innovations and may have more appeal to gamblers who are looking for a big score than to blackjack card counters who focus on grinding out a steady profit.

That being said, Matchplay 21 does provide some opportunities for the serious blackjack player to net a huge win.


Matchplay 21 has more in common with Spanish 21 than it does standard blackjack. It is essentially a variation of a variation. The game is played with six to eight decks that have had the ten-value cards removed.

In Matchplay 21 the player is trying to make a total of 21 or as close to 21 as possible without going over, and the player only has to beat the dealer’s total in order to win. Players in Matchplay 21, just like in regular blackjack, are not playing against one another. Each player is competing only against the dealer who represents the casino.

There is a bonus payout structure in Matchplay 21 which rewards players for specific winning hands. The standard payouts for specific hands are as follows:

  • 21 with 5 cards pays odds of 3-2
  • Any 6-7-8 pays odds of 3-2
  • Any 7-7-7 pays odds of 3-2
  • 21 with 6 cards pays odds of 2-1
  • Suited 6-7-8 pays odds of 2-1
  • Suited 7-7-7 pays odds of 2-1
  • 21 with 7 or more cards pays odds of 3-1
  • 6-7-8 spades pays odds of 3-1
  • 7-7-7 spades pays odds of 3-1
  • 7-7-7 suited when the dealer’s up card is 7 pays odds of 40-1

While these odds are the ones generally found in Matchplay 21, payouts can differ from casino to casino.


Because Matchplay 21 is primarily an online game, there are a few things to be aware of regarding how Matchplay 21 is dealt.

The first thing to be aware of when playing Matchplay 21 online is that the cards are shuffled after every hand of play. You’ll also be playing head-to-head against the dealer; it is not common to find multi-player tables online. These two things make card counting in Matchplay 21 almost impossible. Instead, a player must focus on their knowledge of basic blackjack strategy to overcome the house edge.

To begin, the online player makes a bet by clicking on the denomination of chip they wish to use and then clicking on the PLACE BET button. The bet must be equal to the table minimum. In live play most table minimums begin at $5. In an online casino it is possible to find a table minimum of $1.

Once the player has made a bet the computerized dealer will deal the cards. The player’s cards are dealt face-up. The dealer receives one card face-up and one card remains hidden from the player.


Once the cards have been dealt, if the dealer does not have blackjack, the player may exercise a set of options which are found in standard blackjack. A blackjack by the dealer ends the hand immediately and the player loses.

A player may:

  • Stand on their hand.
  • Hit their hand.
  • Double down on ANY two-card total.
  • Split a pair with one resplit allowed.
  • Split a pair of aces one time with each ace receiving one additional card.
  • Surrender their hand and retrieve half their original wager..

Because of the bonus payouts given for certain hands in Matchplay 21 the player is often encouraged to attempt to improve their hand with no regard for basic blackjack strategy. This is one of the ways in which the casino preserves its edge over the player.


As a general rule, the dealer must hit any total of 16 or less and stand on any total of a hard 17 or greater. In Matchplay 21 the dealer is required to hit a soft 17.

This is a disadvantage for the player which increases the house’s edge. A soft 17 cannot be busted by the dealer. The additional card can only equal or improve the dealer’s total. What this amounts to is the dealer (house) receiving a free card.

In blackjack games such as Matchplay 21, which force the dealer to hit a soft 17, the average winning hand is slightly under or over 19. That means a player will need to make a total of 19 or better in order to win most hands unless the dealer busts. To play blackjack for money online we recommend that you try one of the recommended casinos. You can read the Casino Max review, Miami Club casino review , High Country casino review, Cherry Jackpot casino review, or Roaring 21 review to name a few.

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