How to Play Ante Up 21 Blackjack Rules and Strategy

As one of the most popular games at any land-based or online casino, it comes as no surprise that gaming developers have devised a multitude of variations related to the classic game of Blackjack. One such variation is commonly known as Ante Up 21.

As any seasoned blackjack player will tell you, traditional games of 21 do not involve an Ante bet. In Ante Up 21, however, there are actually two different games being played all at once. One of them is traditional Blackjack, which requires a traditional bet. The other is more like a poker game, where the player has the option of placing a side or bonus bet, known as the Ante bet.

While the standard bet is required, the Ante bet is optional. If placing both, they must each be at least as high as the table minimum, and of course may not exceed the table maximum. The standard bet may be placed in any amount between the table stakes, but the Ante bet may not exceed the size of the standard bet. For example, if the table stakes are $1/$100 and the player bets $5 on the standard blackjack hand, he may place an Ante bet anywhere between $1 and $5.

Once all bets are placed, the dealer will begin the hand of Ante Up 21 in the same fashion as a classic blackjack hand. The player is dealt two cards, as is the dealer. The dealer’s hand is dealt one card face down, the other face up. The player will look at his own cards and must make a decision on whether to play the poker hand or not.

If the player chooses not to play the poker hand, his Ante bet is forfeited to the casino. If the player chooses to play the poker hand, they must place a Raise bet, equal to the Ante bet.

From this point, the game continues just like any blackjack game. The player can hit or stand, split, double down, etc. The object is to develop a hand as close to 21 as possible without exceeding 21. To go over 21 is to bust, resulting in an automatic loss of the standard blackjack bet. However, if this occurs, all is not lost so long as the poker hand is still in play. The dealer then plays his hand. If the dealer busts, the player automatically wins the standard blackjack bet. If not, the hand closest to 21, player or dealer, wins the blackjack bet.

Now the variable that makes Ante Up 21 so much fun comes into play. The poker hand is evaluated. The player may only use two cards from their blackjack hand, regardless of how many times they   may have hit. The dealer does the same. However, if the player Splits, they must use their original two cards. Fortunately, this means they already have a pair of some value. 

The rules of the poker hand do not include straights or flushes, since there are only two cards involved. The only possible hands are high card and a pair. The best possible hand is a pair of Aces; the weakest hand being 3-2.

The dealer’s hand must qualify in order to play out the poker hand. If the dealer’s hand contains at least a Queen High, it will qualify. If not, the player automatically wins the Ante bet, but the Raise bet is a push, returned to the player. If the dealer’s hand qualifies, the two hands are compared. The higher ranking hand wins both the Ante and Raise bet. If the two hands happen to Tie, both bets are a push. One last stipulation; if the dealer is dealt a natural blackjack, the Ante bet remains in play for the poker hand, but the Raise bet is returned to the player as a push.