Blackjack Variations: Ante Up 21 Combines Blackjack and Casino Poker
Combinations of casino games are always tricky, the game-flow and betting for one game does not always match the others. Ante Up 21 combines Blackjack and Poker very successfully. When you first see this game played in a casino, the 3 possible bets and different actions can seem confusing. What you’ll find is that by clearly separating the two games (while enjoying both), Ante Up 21 actually comes together very nicely.
I have split the two games below – focusing on the general setup and the poker based game first of all. After that the Blackjack game is described, with the Poker Bonus side bet explained after that.
Ante Up 21 Setup
When you sit at a table you’ll see 3 betting squares. One is for the standard Blackjack hand, one for the poker game (the Ante) and the other for the Poker Bonus side bet. You can add another bet for both the poker and the Blackjack hands as the game progresses. The Blackjack bet is mandatory in this game, while the poker and especially bonus side bets are optional.
The Poker Game
Only your first 2 cards count as part of the poker game. This will be compared to the best 2 of the dealer’s cards at showdown. There is one decision point in this game, which is whether to play the hand or not. If you do not like the look of your cards (from a poker perspective), then you can pass after the initial deal – this will forfeit your ante and you simply move on to the Blackjack portion of the game. If you wish to continue with the poker hand then you’ll need to place another bet of equal value to the ante.
If you continue then the Blackjack part of the game will need to take place before the next part of the poker game can be resolved.
Once this is over, the dealer will take the 2 cards which give her the best poker hand from all the cards dealt (even if she busts). There is a qualifier requirement. If the dealer has less than queen-high, she does not qualify and all players with live poker hands are paid 1-to-1 on the ante, with the raise bet returned. If the dealer does qualify, then hands are compared, with the best 2 card poker hand being declared as the winner. If the player wins then 1-to-1 is paid for both the ante and raise portions of the bet.
The Blackjack Game
This is a standard US Blackjack setup. The dealer will peek for Blackjack before players are asked to act, insurance will be offered with an ace showing, and players can double down on any number they wish. If a player who has a live poker hand busts for the Blackjack, their cards are left in place and only the bet removed. With the poker side bet involved in this game, there is not usually an additional Blackjack side bet like perfect pairs – which would complicate the action a little too much.
The Poker Bonus Side Bet
The side bet is completely independent from both the poker and the Blackjack games. This is a simple game, which does have the potential for big payouts. It is based on whether you will be dealt a pair in your first 2 cards, and if so whether your 3rd card matches that pair.
Any pair will pay you 3:1 in this side-game, with a suited pair going right up to 15:1. Aces get a special payout, with 10:1 for unsuited aces, and 30:1 for suited aces. 3 of a kind of any rank gives you 40:1 with 250:1 if they are suited. Note that you’ll need to decide whether to bust your Blackjack hand to try for this bonus, for example if you have 2 nines or queens. 3 Aces gives you a huge 1000:1 on your bet, with 3 suited aces an even bigger 5000:1. With aces, you will not need to bust your Blackjack hand either.
Like all side bets, the edge will be larger than in the main game in favor of the house. For individual players it is a matter of working out whether the added interest to your playing experience (and occasional windfall) is worth the additional cost.