21 Duel Blackjack

21 Duel Blackjack is a new variant found at many Playtech-powered casinos. Combining the gameplay elements of both blackjack and Texas Hold’em, the game is a fun and exciting battle between the player and the dealer. With several decision points but an overall simple structure, 21 Duel Blackjack is an exciting mix of two of the hottest games in casinos today.

How to Play 21 Duel Blackjack

21 Duel Blackjack begins with the player making an ante bet. There is also the potential to make a side bet known as “2 Up,” which we’ll talk about a bit later.

After making the bet, players are dealt two cards: one face up, and one face down. Meanwhile, the dealer is given two cards, both of which are face down. In addition, two community cards are played in the middle of the table, both of which will be face up. These cards may ultimately be used in either your hand or the dealer’s hand.

The player now has to make their first choice: whether to continue playing or whether to fold their hand. If the player chooses to fold, they forfeit their bet and the hand is immediately over. If they wish to continue, the player must make a second bet equal in size to the original ante bet.

If the player makes the second bet, the player now has another choice to make. The player must choose one of the two community cards to add to their hand, forming a traditional blackjack hand. Note that choosing a community card does not eliminate that card from being chosen again by the dealer (or by one of your other hands if you are playing in multi-handed mode); it simply means that it will be part of your hand. As in many poker games, multiple players are free to utilize the same community card in their hands.

The player will now have a two-card blackjack hand, and their score will be displayed on screen. Scoring is handled as normal in blackjack, including allowing aces to count for either one point or 11.

Players now have one last decision to make. If the player wishes to stand, they may do so, and their face-down card will be discarded. Should the player instead choose to hit, the face down card will be added to their hand. As in standard blackjack, any hand over 21 will be considered to have busted, losing immediately. Players do not have the option to split or double down, and there is no option to hit multiple times; once the face-down card has been used, the hand is completed.

Once the player has concluded playing their hand, the dealer will have one card revealed. Based on “house way” rules, the dealer will then choose one of the two community cards to add to their hand. The dealer will then choose to hit if their hand is 16 or lower, or stand on a hand of 17 or more. As with the player, the dealer may only hit once.

If the dealer’s total hand is less than 13, the dealer is said to not have qualified. The player will automatically win even money on their ante bet, regardless of their hand total. The additional bet is pushed.

If the dealer’s hand is 13 or more, the total of the two hands is compared. Should the player have the higher hand, both player bets win; if the dealer hand is higher, both player bets lose. Should the hands be tied, both bets will push.

In addition, there is also the 2 Up side bet. This optional bet allows players to bet on the first three cards seen on the table: the player up card and the two community cards. If these cards have a pair between them, the bet pays 3-1; should they form a three-of-a-kind, the bet pays 20-1 instead. All other combinations lose.

21 Duel Blackjack Strategy

While optimal 21 Duel Blackjack strategy is complex, approximations of the perfect strategy can get you rather close. While an optimal strategy will result in a house edge of 1.62%, the following strategy will get you within a few hundredths of a percent of that figure. This strategy is a slightly simplified version of one developed by “aka23” on a popular message board.

First, note that you will only rarely choose to fold. Only the following combinations of player up card and community cards should be folded (community cards in parentheses):

A (A/A)
2 (A/5, A/6, A/10, 10/5, 10/6)
3 (A/9, A/10, 10/4, 10/5)
4 (A/8, A/9, A/10, 10/3, 10/4)
5 (A/7, A/8, A/9, A/10, 10/2, 10/7, 10/8, 10/9, 10/10)
6 (A/8, 10/6, 10/7, 10/8, 10/9, 10/10)
7 (10/5, 10/6, 10/7)

On all other hands, you should choose to play. You will then want to pick a community card that gives you a hand of the best possible value, chosen from top to bottom from the following list. A “soft” hand is one which contains an ace that can still be counted as either one or 11, while a “hard” hand is any other hand:

Soft 16
Soft 15
Soft 14
Soft 13
Soft 12
Hard 12
Hard 13
Hard 14
Hard 15
Hard 16

Finally, players must choose to hit or stay. Players should generally choose to hit on 16 or less and stand with 17 or more. The most notable exception to this rule is with a soft 17; if one of the community cards is an ace, you should hit in this situation.

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