When and How to Double Down in Blackjack

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Blackjack dealer deals cards at the table.
BetMGM Feb 24, 2022, 12:06 AM

Blackjack is one of those online casino games that’s easy to start playing but a challenge to master. Apart from making basic decisions such as when to hit or stand, you need to know how to use the more advanced options such as insurance, surrender, splitting and doubling down. Of all these, the double down can be the most profitable action you can take at the blackjack table. That’s because it gives you the opportunity to increase the value of your bet by 100 percent. No wonder it’s one of the most popular blackjack bets there is, but you do have to know how to use it. Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of doubling down when you’re playing blackjack at a casino.

How the double down works

For many players, blackjack’s uncomplicated betting rules make it one of the best casino table games in terms of value for money. You stand to win the same amount that you put down on the table, simple as that. The only exceptions are if you hit blackjack, in which case you get paid out three to two (often seen as 3:2,) or if you double down, which doubles your bet. The only chance you get to do this in a game of blackjack is directly after you’re dealt your first two cards. After that, you can’t hit again. This can be a risky decision. What if you’re dealt a low card? You could lose twice as many chips as you started off betting (which is why you have to be careful when using it.) But an experienced player knows when it’s wise to double down and when it’s not. This tension between playing it safe and taking the risk is part of what makes blackjack one of the most satisfying casino games to play.

Doubling down on blackjack strategy

The blackjack double down can be a double-edged sword in more than one sense. Timid players who avoid it because they’re afraid of the risk also lose out on the opportunity to double their money. Over-confident players who double down more than they need to end up losing more money than they should. The solution in both cases is to apply basic blackjack strategy, which is the mathematical probability of a decision being correct based on what you’re holding and what the dealer’s showing. Blackjack strategy is able to identify three groups of hands where doubling down makes sense, for two simple reasons: You can’t go bust and you have better chances to win than the dealer. For cool-headed players, this strategic aspect makes blackjack one of the best games to play at the casino.

Three good hands to double down on

If you have a hard nine (a hand that adds up to nine but doesn’t include an ace) and the dealer’s upcard is 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6, then you should double down. Similarly, if your first two cards are a hard 10 or 11 and the dealer’s up card has a lower value, the odds are in your favor because the dealer has to hit until they reach 17. It’s also good to double down if you’re holding soft 16, 17 or 18 (“soft” meaning one of your cards is an ace) and the dealer’s upcard is 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6. Since the value of the ace can be one or 11, the probability is good that you can strengthen your hand without going bust. Experiment with these tried-and-trusted tips for yourself. They work just as well whether you’re playing in a land-based casino or against an online blackjack live dealer. Just don’t forget that there’s always a big element of luck in how the game pans out. This is why you should never allow yourself to bet more money than you had originally intended. 

Is it possible to double down twice?

What’s even better about the blackjack double down is that you can potentially do it twice. That’s if you double down on a split. How it works is that if your first two cards have the same value, you can split them into two hands and receive another card for each hand (you’ll have to bet on each separately.) Then, if the cards are right, you can double down on both of them! The chances of being dealt cards that are favorable to a double, double down are slim, but that doesn’t mean they won’t ever turn up. Be aware, though, that some live dealer blackjack tables won’t allow you to double down after you split. Before you play blackjack in online casinos, be sure to check the rules of any specific game that piques your interest.

Try doubling down on blackjack at BetMGM

Looking for a great variety of premium blackjack games online? Sign up at BetMGM for the best online casino games! Explore our broad range of RNG-led (random number generator-led) blackjack titles that allow you to play up to five hands at once, or take the plunge and go head to head with a professional live dealer for blackjack at its best. Enjoy other live casino table games such as Dragon Tiger, baccarat and roulette, as well as live-hosted game shows, including the Dream Catcher money-wheel game and electrifying Lightning Roulette. To round off the experience, have a go at our online slots! For sheer entertainment, these feature-rich, animated games are hard to beat. 

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.