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. If you know when and how to do it, doubling down needn’t be a dangerous move. To prepare you for your next online blackjack game, we’ve put together a guide on how to use this strategy. Read on if you want to learn the dos and don’ts of doubling down when you play blackjack online.
What does it mean to double down in blackjack?
Doubling down can be one of your more effective blackjack strategies. Simply put, you double down when you have enough confidence in your cards to increase your bet before you’ve received your last card.
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. The first thing to learn is when to double down.
When to double down in blackjack
If you’re a beginner, don’t worry. You don’t need to work out the probability of success for every hand. A blackjack basic strategy has already been mathematically calculated.
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
Let’s look at 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 strategy won’t work all the time. Let’s 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.
Pay attention to the rules
Surprisingly, blackjack rules 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 to. 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.
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