If you’ve been playing blackjack for any decent amount of time, you’ve probably read plenty of blackjack tips detailing how to play, manage your bankroll and make profitable decisions at the tables. In this article, we’re going to focus solely on the matter of Doubling Down. You’ll learn what it is, when to do it, and when it’s best to leave well enough alone.
Blackjack Tips: Understanding the Double Down
There are several strategic betting options available in a traditional game of blackjack. One of the most popular is known as the “Double Down”. It gives players the opportunity to increase their initial bet size two-fold after seeing their first two cards.
To Double Down is to double your bet size and accept one more card, or Hit. You must take one additional card, and immediately stand on the total (unless you bust, in which case you lose the entire bet).
Most blackjack variations allow a player to double down on any first two cards only. Some blackjack rules are less restrictive, allowing players to double down on any number of cards, with any value. Others are more restrictive, limiting a player’s ability to double on the first two cards, with a total of 9, 10 or 11 only. Be sure to check the rules of the blackjack game to see when doubling down is permitted.
Blackjack Tips: When to Double Down
Doubling down may seem like a great idea, because it gives the player an opportunity to win twice as much money. However, you must also realize that it affords a chance to lose twice as much money. Following these blackjack tips will help you maximize the profit potential of the double down.
Total 10 or 11: The most advantageous time to double down is when your two-card total equals 10 or 11. This is because you cannot possibly bust, and 30.77% of the cards in the shoe have a value of 10. Thus you have a near 1-in-3 chance of being dealt a total of 20 or 21. On a total of 10, you can also count the Aces as advantageous, bringing the chance of a 20/21 total to 38.46%.
However, the dealer’s up-card must be taken into account. If the dealer is already showing a 10, it’s just as likely that he will end with a total of 20. Therefore, it is better to leave well enough alone and simply Hit without doubling.
Total of 9: Things get more complicated when you have a total of 9. Many players will instantly double down on this total if the dealer isn’t showing a 10, but according to the odds, that’s more often a losing bet. Proper blackjack tips and strategies will only recommend doubling on 9 if the dealer is showing 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6.
Dealer Shows 5 or 6: When the dealer is showing a 5 or 6, these are known as ‘bust cards’. As the name indicates, it means that the dealer has an elevated chance of busting. However, that doesn’t mean you should double down on any total.
Unless your hand falls into the category of those above (total of 9, 10 or 11), you should only double down in this situation if your cards include an Ace combined with a 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6. In this case, the odds are in your favor. Not only is the dealer more likely to bust, there are more cards in the deck that can help you, rather than hurt you, and again, you cannot possibly bust.