21 Duel Blackjack – A Complete Guide to 21 Duel Blackjack


One of the simpler variants of blackjack and a highly entertaining one is 21 Duel Blackjack. The game is a healthy mix of two iconic games – regular blackjack and Texas Hold’em. It is similar to Texas Hold’em because of the use of the community cards. The game is fast and the primary objective is the same as a game of regular blackjack: get a hand of 21 or as close to it as possible and beat the dealer.

The house edge in 21 Duel Blackjack is around 3%; however a player can bring this down to approximately 1.6% using optimal strategy. The game is available in single hand and multi-hand versions mostly at online casinos running on Playtech software.

Playable 21 Duel Blackjack game:

Basic Differences between 21 Duel Blackjack and Regular Blackjack

Since 21 Duel Blackjack is a variant, it is different in some ways from the regular blackjack game. The fundamental difference, like in many of the blackjack variants you come across at online casinos, is in the way the deal itself is structured.

  • There are 2 additional cards dealt in the original hand, the community cards.
  • The community cards are available to both the player and the dealer.
  • The player and the dealer can use these cards to strengthen their hand, like in Texas Hold’em.
  • There is the ante bet that is not usually seen in other blackjack games.
  • One of the player’s cards is dealt face-up, while the other is dealt face down.
  • Both the dealer’s cards are dealt face down.
  • If the player chooses a community card his face-down card becomes redundant unless he chooses to hit.
  • There is an additional bet, the 2 Up side bet that comes into play.

21 Duel Blackjack Rules

The rules associated with 21 Duel Blackjack are fairly simple and easy to follow.

  • The game is played with between 2 and 8 decks of cards; the standard norm is to use 6 decks.
  • The player has to make an additional wager, the ante bet, to be able to play his hand.
  • The top hand is the blackjack – an Ace and a 10-value card.
  • The dealer has to have a minimum hand value of 13 to qualify for play.
  • The player cannot split a hand of identical-value cards. Re-splitting is therefore not allowed.
  • Players cannot split Aces.
  • Doubling down is not allowed.
  • There is no Surrender option offered.
  • The Insurance bet is not available.
  • Players can use the 2 Up side bet.

Playing 21 Duel Blackjack

It is easy to play 21 Duel Blackjack. The rules simplify the game and make it fast. The game is available in multi-hand versions as well.

  • The player can choose to play just the single hand or multiple hands.
  • The maximum hands you see is usually 3.

Step by Step guide to play 21 Duel Blackjack.

  • Place the Ante bets on the table. At an online casino a player can do this by clicking the chip(s) perched on the table’s edge.
  • At this time the player also has the option of placing the 2 Up side bet.
  • Once the bets are placed the deal is done.
    • The player gets one card face up and the second card face down.
    • The dealer gets both the cards face down.
    • The 2 community cards are dealt between the player and the dealer’s cards face up.
  • The player has to choose a community card to use or fold his hand.
    • He can choose a community card by clicking the left card or right card button.
    • Folding causes him to lose the game and forfeit his bet.
  • The card he chooses and the face up card become his original hand. The face down card does not have any value at this point. Another wager equal to the original Ante bet is placed at this point.
  • Next, he has the option of hitting or standing, based on the hand he has.
    • To hit, he has to click the Hit button.
    • To stand, he has to click the Stand button.
    • His hand is now complete.
  • The dealer’s hand now commences. He follows the same procedure as the player.
  • If the dealer’s hand is not at least 13 he loses automatically and the player gets an even money payout.
  • The hand with the higher value wins.
  • If the player has played the 2 UP side bet and lands a pair or a three-of-a-kind, he gets paid for the same; else he loses out on the bet amount.

Hand Combinations Based on Cards Played in 21 Duel Blackjack

The following are the possible hand combinations based on the cards played.

Scores with a 2-card Hand Possible Hand Compositions
21 Blackjack hand (A and 10-value card)
20 A-9, two 10-value cards
19 A-8, 10-value card and 9
11 9-2, 8-3, 7-4, 6-5
10 8-2, 7-3, 64, 5-5
9 7-2, 6-3, 5-4
18 9-9, 10-value card and 8, A-7
17 9-8, 10-value card and 7, A-6
Soft 16 A-5
Soft 15 A-4
Soft 14 A-3
Soft 13 A-3
Soft 12 A-A
8 6-2, 5-3, 4-4
7 5-2, 4-3
6 4-2, 3-3
5 3-2
12 10-value card and 2, 9-3, 8-4, 7-5, 6-6
13 10-value card and 3, 9-4, 8-5, 7-6
14 10-value card and 4, 9-5, 8-6, 7-7
15 10-value card and 5, 9-6, 8-7
16 10-value card and 6, 9-7,8-8
4 2-2

Potential Results and Respective Payouts in 21 Duel Blackjack

The following are the potential results in 21 Duel Blackjack.

  • The player folds his hand. When this happens he loses the Ante bet and any other bet (the 2 Up side bet) he has placed.
  • The player plays his hand and the dealer ends up with a hand below 13. When this happens the dealer loses and the player gets paid even money (1:1) on the Ante bet and any bet on the community cards is pushed.
  • The player plays his hand and busts while the dealer has a hand of 13 or more. The dealer wins and the player loses his Ante bet and also the community card bet.
  • The player plays his hand and has a higher hand value than the dealer. The player then wins his Ante and also community card bets; the payout is even money for this situation.

The 2 Up Side Bet

One interesting additional option in 21 Duel Blackjack is the 2 Up side bet.

  • This side bet is placed before the cards are dealt, along with the original Ante bet.
  • The bet covers the possibility of the first 3 cards on the table for the player – his face up card and the 2 community cards – being one of the following:
    • A pair: The payout for this eventuality is 3 to 1. The lower payout is because of the higher probability of this happening compared to the three-of-a-kind hand, approximately 0.206119697%.
    • A three-of-a-kind: The payout for this eventuality is 20 to 1. The higher payout is because of the very low possibility of this happening, approximately 0.005248418%.
  • Because of the higher payouts that these two situations guarantee should a player hit one of them, the house edge shoots up to 6.53% if a player plays 21 Duel Blackjack and uses this option.

21 Duel Blackjack Strategy

Because of the way 21 Duel Blackjack is structured, the strategy for this game is quite simple and effective. There are of course different methodologies one can apply but the best that one can look for is something that gives optimal results. The optimal strategy for 21 Duel Blackjack, as mentioned in another segment, goes down from approximately 3% (3.08%) to 1.62%.

While a player can fold his hand, it is never a good option in this game simply because of the infinite possibilities the presence of the community cards raises. Folding can be an option if the player’s hand has the following cards:

Player’s Open Card Community Cards Dealt
Ace 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

Once the player decides to play and choose a community card, he has the option of hitting or standing.

  • A player can hit if his hand value is 16 or less.
  • A player can stand if his hand value is 17 or more.
  • If the player has a soft 17 – he picks an Ace as his community card – he must hit.