Dos and Don’ts for Doubling Down in Blackjack

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BetMGM Dec 06, 2023, 5:59 AM

Many novice blackjack players like to play it safe by keeping their bets low. But sometimes, playing it safe can convert a favorable hand into a wasted opportunity. Doubling down is one of the most well-known bets in blackjack, and if you know when and how to do it, doubling down needn’t be a dangerous move. This guide has been put together to help you understand how to use this blackjack betting strategy and prepare you for your next online blackjack game. Read on for some helpful blackjack tips if you want to learn the dos and don’ts of doubling down. 

What Does Double Down Mean in Blackjack?

Doubling down can be one of your more effective blackjack strategies. It is the opportunity to increase your original bet by as much as double, but, in turn, you will need to stand after taking another card. Simply put, you double down when you have enough confidence in your cards to increase your bet before you’ve received your last card. 

Having confidence at the blackjack table and doubling your bet has its rewards. When successful, you can win even more money than you would have with your original bet. But there are some risks involved. If you end up being dealt a low hand, you stand to lose twice as much money. So, how can you balance the risks of doubling down in blackjack with the potential reward? The first thing you need to learn is when to double down.

When To Double Down in Blackjack

You only get the opportunity to double down once in a blackjack game, right after your first two cards have been dealt. If you’re a beginner, don’t worry. You don’t need to work out the probability of success for every hand because in blackjack, basic strategy has already been mathematically calculated. 

So, when can you double down in blackjack? According to this strategy, there are three situations where it’s advisable to double down. In all three scenarios, you can’t go bust or exceed 21 points, but you are still likely to finish with a high hand. The dealer also has a higher chance of losing in these scenarios. 

When You Have a Hard Nine Against Low Dealer Cards

In blackjack terminology, a “hard” hand is one without an ace. When you are dealt cards that add up to 9, you can double down if the dealer’s up card (revealed card) shows a low number between 2 and 6. It’s imperative that neither hand has an ace. 

This means your cards can be 3 and 6, 2 and 7, or 4 and 5. If you have an ace, it’s safer to stand no matter how low the dealer’s cards are. 

When You Have a Soft Sixteen, Seventeen, or Eighteen Against Low Dealer Cards

A soft hand includes an ace, which, of course, can be counted as 11. This is called a soft total. If you have an ace in your hand combined with a 5, 6, or 7 — giving you a soft total of 16, 17, or 18 — you can double your bet if the dealer has a card between 2 and 6. The reason you can risk a high hand is because your ace can be counted as either 1 or 11. 

If your hand combines an ace with a lower card between 2 and 4, don’t double down because you have lower chances of ending with a high hand. 

When You Have a Hard Ten or Eleven Against Any Lower Dealer Card

Here are a few examples of hard 10 or 11 hands. Hands with 5 and 6, 5 and 5, 4 and 7, 4 and 6, 3 and 8, 3 and 7, 2 and 9, and 2 and 8 are all hard 10 or 11 hands. This hand puts you at an advantage if the dealer’s card is lower than yours. While you can’t go bust or lose, the dealer has a high chance of going bust because they have to hit until they reach 17.

Using these strategies as a guideline when you’re playing live dealer blackjack will put you in the best position when the odds are in your favor. Still, in blackjack, things do not always turn out as expected. Even the most effective blackjack double-down strategy won’t work all the time. Take a look at some don’ts of doubling down in blackjack.

When Not To Double Down in Blackjack

Even if you’re the kind of player who likes to follow their gut, there are times when you should not double down. Here are a few tips and tricks to avoid making a big mistake.

Never Double Down When the Dealer Has an Ace

With an ace, the dealer’s chances of winning are too high to risk doubling down. Even after they’ve checked for blackjack, they can still end with a total closer to 21 than yours.

Never Double Down When Your Hand Exceeds Eleven

Once your hand has exceeded 11, your chances of going bust increase dramatically. Ask for another card without raising your bet, or simply stick to your lower total and hope that the dealer will go bust instead. 

If you see many players doubling down, don’t be pressured to do the same when your hand is not favorable. Though there is always an element of luck in blackjack, succeeding, in the long run, requires thinking and a solid strategy. 

How Do I Double Down in Blackjack?

It’s easy to signal to your dealer that you want to double down. In land-based casinos, you push a stack of chips next to your initial bet. This stack must be equal in value to your original bet. You can also tell your dealer that you want to double down and ask for one more card. Online casino table games have a button to click when you want to double your bet. 

Can You Double Down After Splitting in Blackjack?

Typically, this isn’t a standard move, and most of the time, you won’t be allowed to do it, but some online casinos allow doubling down after splitting — it all depends on the blackjack double down rules for that specific casino. If you find yourself in this situation, approach it with the same decision-making process as you would for any regular hands. While it may not be the standard practice, it does add a layer of complexity to the game, providing an opportunity for a more sophisticated gameplay experience.

Can You Double Down After Hitting in Blackjack?

Ordinarily, the window to double down opens right after receiving your first two cards. However, post a hit, casinos generally close the door on doubling down. The rule is to maintain fairness in the gameplay, preventing players from gaining an overwhelming advantage. Once you decide to take an additional card, that’s the extent of your options. 

Should You Double Down on 10?

The decision to double down on 10 hinges on the card the dealer is showing. If the dealer reveals an ace or a 10-value card, it’s best to be cautious because they are more likely to form a strong hand. So, in such cases, avoiding doubling down may be the best choice to mitigate potential losses. However, doubling down becomes a feasible option if the dealer shows a 6 or lower. If you double down in this situation, you capitalize on the dealer’s perceived weakness and increase your chances of a favorable outcome. As with any blackjack strategy, flexibility and adaptability based on the specific game situation are key to making informed decisions.

Is it Always a Good Idea To Double Down on 11?

In most cases, doubling down on 11 is a good move, especially if you’re just a casual player. 

However, as with any blackjack strategy, the outcome is not guaranteed. The effectiveness of doubling down on 11 also depends on the dealer’s up card. If the dealer shows a strong card like an ace, it might be wise to reconsider doubling down. On the other hand, if the dealer has a lower card, doubling down can be a good option because it puts pressure on the dealer to catch up. Remember, each blackjack hand is unique, and factors like the specific game rules and your risk tolerance should influence your decision-making process.

Pay Attention to the Rules

Surprisingly, when you play blackjack online, the rules can vary from one casino to another. Study the game rules to see if your casino allows you to double down when your cards total 10 or 11. Also, note the number the dealer must keep hitting up. It is usually 17, which increases their chances of going bust. But in some casinos, the dealer only hits up to 16, which affects how likely they are to go over 21 and if you should double down or not. 

Lastly, find out if the casino makes the dealer check for blackjack when they receive an ace or 10. Once they’ve checked and not found blackjack, your chances of winning your double-down bet are even higher. 

Put Your Blackjack Strategy to the Test With BetMGM

Are you ready to play online blackjack for real money? Head to the BetMGM online casino to join a blackjack table and meet the friendly and professional dealers. You don’t need to leave the house to enjoy an authentic table game. With a BetMGM account, you can access various live dealer table games on your mobile devices. Register so you don’t miss out.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.