Although blackjack is a card game with a tiny house edge (usually lower than 1%), it won’t work unless you apply the right strategy. One of them refers to knowing when to double down. As one of the best-known bets in blackjack, you should understand its ins and outs and the right timing to make this move. Using this strategy correctly can help you boost your winnings substantially.
Keep reading, and we’ll take you through some of the nuances surrounding this famous blackjack bet, from when it is the right time to do it to when you should never apply it.
What Does it Mean to Double Down in Blackjack?
- What Does it Mean to Double Down in Blackjack?
- When Should You Double Down in Blackjack?
- When Not to Double Down?
In blackjack, a double down occurs when the player doubles their bet during a hand and only gets one more card from the dealer. There is certainly a risk involved with this strategy because if a player is dealt a low card, they will not be able to hit again, resulting in doubling their losses. However, if done correctly, it can be highly profitable.
After a player receives their first two cards, they are allowed to double down. Generally, if you get a natural blackjack, hit, or place an insurance bet, you are not allowed to double down. On the other hand, if you split your hand, you are often allowed to double down. You can double down any number of times when playing blackjack, but only once per round.
The name often misleads players into thinking that doubling down means adding two more cards to your hand or entering two hands simultaneously (this is splitting, and the player must be dealt at least two cards of the same value to do it).
When Should You Double Down in Blackjack?
The ultimate aim of blackjack is to beat the dealer. Fortunately, using mathematical probability, experts created the basic blackjack strategy that covers all the possible outcomes. This strategy will tell you, in the long run, when is the best time to double down in blackjack. Thus, If you think the statistical advantage is on your side, you should make a move.
Statistics indicate that the dealer is most likely to lose the hand, and you won’t go bust in the following three situations.
Hard 10 or 11 Against Any Lower Dealer Card
In most blackjack strategies, we recommend doubling down when you have two cards with a total value of 11. In this scenario, you are approximately 53.8% likely to end up with a strong 18 or higher in your turn and 30.4% to end up with one worth 21.
In addition, doubling down is recommended if your initial hand total was 10, including if there were two 5s in it. But this rule doesn’t apply to the situation when the dealer’s up card is worth ten or an ace.
Both of the cases mentioned above that make 10 or 11 (2-8, 2-9, 3-7, 3-8, 4-6, 4-7, 6-5) with a dealer having a lower total, puts you in a favorable position to double down.
Soft 16 to 18 Against the Dealer’s Low Cards
Having an ace and another card that is either 5, 6, or 7 is called a soft hand. The ace can undoubtedly be a real winner when playing blackjack since it is statistically more likely to hit or get very close to 21. But don’t go over the top since it is only a good idea to double down if the dealer has a low card, from 2 to 6.
If you have an ace and a lower card, from 2 to 4, it is advisable to hit only because the odds of ending up with a high hand are lower.
Hard 9 Against the Dealer’s Low Cards
Probability dictates that you should double down if the dealer’s face-up card is between 3 and 6 (any card lower than 7, not containing an ace) and your initial hand value is 9. Essentially, the dealer is most likely to go bust in this scenario.
Since you have a hard nine, your hand doesn’t include any aces, and the possible combinations can be 2–7, 3–6, or 4–5.
In case your hand contains an ace and an 8 or less card (soft hand), you should stand regardless of the dealer’s card.
When Not to Double Down?
There are also situations where doubling down is a bad idea, and you can end up losing a great deal of money too quickly. In some situations, players must not double down under any circumstances because, in those scenarios, the dealer’s chances of winning are too high.
Let us elaborate on that:
When your hard hand total is higher than 11
In this case, you are more likely to go bust than you are to hit the right hand, like a 9 or 8. Therefore, instead of doubling down, you hit or stick to a lower hand total or hope the dealer’s total exceeds 21 instead. This is because the dealer has a 53.8% chance of coming up with a strong hand worth at least 18.
When a dealer is showing an ace
Since an ace is a pretty powerful card, it would be unwise to double down once you see the dealer holds one. In this case, the dealer has 30.4% to get as close to or hit the blackjack. The only exception is when your hand value is 11. Hands other than 11 have no chance of matching this probability, resulting in the dealer having a significant advantage.
When your hard hand value is not between nine and 11
Hand values greater than 11 always have a higher probability of going bust than forming hands with values between 18 and 21. On the other hand, doubling down makes no sense for values less than 9 since it limits your hand’s maximum potential value.
Generally, if you are unsure whether to double down, you should stay on the safe side and keep your bet the same.
What does it mean to double down in blackjack?
After you are dealt two cards, you can double your bet and receive an additional card from the dealer. First, you can place one more bet equal to the first. Then, the dealer will give you the third card and settle all bets at the end of the hand.
How to signal you want to double down in blackjack?
This signal depends on if you play the game with cards face-up or face-down. If they are placed face-down, you must turn them over before doubling down your wager. If they are already face-up, you must first place extra chips alongside your original bet outside of the betting box. Once you’ve done this, just point to the chips with your index finger to let the dealer know you want to double down.
Can you double down after splitting?
Yes, you can. Since split hands are treated as separate hands, you can double down. They are now treated as two original hands. Thus, players have the freedom to act and make a move as they would typically do on their original hand before the split. However, split aces do not fall under this rule, though you can still double them down.
Is doubling down allowed after hitting?
Once a player hits, they are not allowed to double down. Once the dealer has dealt the first two cards, the player has the option of going for a double down bet or not, but can only do so after the initial two cards of each round have been dealt. This is the only time in a hand when you can double down.