When and How To Double Down in Blackjack

min read
Blackjack dealer deals cards at the table.
BetMGM May 19, 2023, 7:51 AM

It’s one of the world’s most popular casino games, second only to poker. Yes, we’re talking about blackjack. Blackjack is a highly popular online casino game that’s easy to start playing but challenging to master. 

Looking for blackjack tips to improve your win rate? 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 move 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! That said, you have to know how and when to use it. 

So, when to double down in blackjack? Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of this strategy and how to get it right.

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 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 must be careful about it). But an experienced player knows when it’s wise to double down and when 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. On the one hand, timid players who avoid it because they’re afraid of the risk also lose out on the opportunity to double their money. On the other hand, 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 can identify three groups of hands where doubling down makes sense, for two 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 9 but doesn’t include an ace) and the dealer’s up card is 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6, 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 a soft 16, 17 or 18 (“soft,” meaning one of your cards is an ace) and the dealer’s up card is 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6. Since the value of the ace can be one or 11, the probability is high 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 blackjack online against a 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. 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 favorable to a double-down are slim — but real, nonetheless. 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.

Some Common Doubling Down Mistakes To Avoid

Since doubling down comes with its risks, it’s important to think twice before making this move. Here are a few common doubling-down mistakes to avoid. 

Doubling Down on a Weak Hand

One of the most common mistakes players make is to double down when they’ve been dealt a weak hand (a card with a low value,) which reduces your chances of winning.

Doubling Down at the Wrong Time

Another mistake is to double down at the wrong time. For example, you may double down when the dealer has a strong up card when your chances of losing are higher than your chances of beating the dealer.

Failing To Double Down When Appropriate

Players may also miss opportunities to double down when it’s appropriate to do so. For example, you may fail to double down on a hand with a total of 11 when the dealer has a weak up card.

Doubling Down Too Often

Doubling down too frequently can result in you burning through your bankroll extremely quickly. 

Not Knowing When To Stop

On a losing streak? That’s definitely not a sign to crank up the number of times you choose to double down. Never try to chase your losses in the hopes that your luck is about to change. 

Ignoring the Basic Strategy

Don’t forget about your blackjack strategy when doubling down. Deviating from it can increase the house edge and reduce your chances of winning.

Is There a Difference Between Doubling Down in a Single-Deck and Multi-Deck Blackjack Game?

Yes. In a single-deck game, your chances of receiving a favorable card when doubling down are higher as fewer cards are in the deck. 

In a multi-deck game, your chances of receiving a favorable card when doubling down are lower because more cards are in the deck. In short, you’ll need to be more conservative when deciding to double down when playing multi-deck games compared to single-deck games. 

New to the double-down? One of our best blackjack tips is to practice as much as you can by playing single-deck games to help preserve your bankroll while you get the hang of this strategy.

Try Doubling Down on Blackjack at BetMGM

Now that you’re well-versed in the dos and don’ts of doubling down, you’re probably looking for a great variety of premium blackjack online games to put your new skills to the test. Register 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 jackpot slots! For sheer entertainment, these feature-rich, animated games are hard to beat. 

And don’t forget to explore our blog further for even more helpful blackjack tips.

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.