Double Trouble? How to Double Down in Blackjack
You’ve probably heard of the double-down blackjack bet, even if you don’t gamble. If you’ve heard someone say they’re “doubling down on” a decision, you’ve heard an idiom that originated with a blackjack bet.
What Does “Double Down” Mean?
In live blackjack, doubling down means doubling your original bet in exchange for one more card. It’s a risky strategy because you can’t hit again if you get a low card. Instead, you’ll be stuck with a low total and unable to reach 21. However, doubling down can be one of the most profitable blackjack strategies. If you win, you will be paid based on your doubled bet.
When Can You Double Down in Blackjack?
After placing your bet and the cards have been dealt, you can double down in blackjack. You may not double down if you have already decided to hit or stand. As for your first decision, you must decide whether or not to double down.
So, when is it best to go all-in? Fortunately, blackjack strategists have identified the mathematical scenarios that yield the highest returns – including when to double down. The exact strategy depends on the type of blackjack you’re playing.
However, there are three situations in which a double-down bet should always be considered:
When you have 11
A total of 11 in your first two cards puts you in a very strong position. If you have an 11 in an eight-deck game of blackjack, there are up to 32 cards that can give you an unbeatable 21. There are also up to 24 cards that can give you an 18 or higher, which is usually a winning hand.
An 11 is such a strong hand that you should double down even if the dealer has a 10. Even if the dealer is showing an ace, you should double down if the dealer stands on a soft 17. Even if you run into blackjack, you’ll still be making a good decision in the long run.
When you have a soft 16 to 18
You have a “soft” hand if you have an ace and a 5, 6, or 7. This means that the hand’s value can change depending on whether an ace is played as a one or an 11.
Choosing to double down against a low dealer upcard increases your chances of hitting a hand of 17 or higher. If the dealer has a low card, this total is usually profitable, so double your bet.
When you have a hard 9 or 10
If you are dealt a hard 9 (a hand without an ace), you can double down if the dealer’s upcard is a six or lower. Against a seven or higher, regardless of whether the dealer stands on a soft 17, you should simply hit on a hard 9.
You should double down with a hard ten against any dealer upcard of 9 or lower. Doubling down with a hard ten against aces, face cards, and 10s is no longer profitable.
When Should You Not Double Down?
Because of the various blackjack variations, there are a few hard and fast rules. However, there are a few instances when you should never double down.
Do not double down if your total is greater than 11. Doubling down on 12 or higher is blackjack suicide due to the same frequency of high cards that makes doubling down on 11 profitable. The risk of busting is far too high, especially when betting twice.
Furthermore, if the dealer has an ace, you should never double down – unless they have to hit on a soft 17. In that case, you should double down against any dealer upcard if you have 11.
What About Doubling Down After a Split?
Splitting in blackjack refers to dividing your hand into two separate hands for the cost of an additional bet. You can only do this if your hole cards are all the same rank. Because your split hands are treated as two separate hands, you should be able to double down after splitting.
If you split A-A, this rule does not apply. Most casinos will not allow you to double down after splitting aces, and you may only hit once per hand after that.
Remember that if you double down on both split hands, your total investment will be four times your original bet, so ensure you’re in a good position before doing so!
How Do You Signal Double Down?
Doubling down is as simple as pressing the button when playing blackjack online. However, playing live blackjack in a real casino, you will not have this luxury.
Fortunately, signalling a double down isn’t all that difficult. Simply place a stack of chips equal to your initial bet next to your initial bet. When the dealer realizes you want to double down, he will deal you one more card. I’m hoping for a 10!