When Should You Double Down in Blackjack?

Double Down in Blackjack

If you are familiar with blackjack, you know that as a player you can often do more than just take a card or fold. One of the things you can also do is double your bet. How does double down in blackjack work or which cards it is wise to double my bet so that my chance of winning is as high as possible.

It is true that doubling is subject to conditions, for example you may only double if you have received your first two cards. You then double your bet and receive your third card. 

Don’t assume that doubling your chance of winning automatically increases, but you should use a strategy to maximize that chance. A good time to double down is with an 8 and a 3 against a 6 for the dealer. Your chance of 21 is then decent, while the dealer has a chance to ‘break down’.

So you have to remember that you only double with good cards where there is a good chance that you can get the highest possible number of points with a third card. If the dealer has a bad open card, it can even be very profitable to double your bet! This blackjack strategy is easier to apply than, for example, the approach of counting cards or counting aces and fives.

Strategies of Double Down in Blackjack

So you have to start from a strategy when you want to double. As a matter of fact, in most casinos you are not allowed to double up until you see your first cards. You may therefore not double after you have had a third or a fourth card. With certain cards you certainly have a chance to win (if the dealer has a lower card), so you have to double. This way, of course, you double with an Ace (or the dealer also has an Ace), but doubling with a 10 or an 11 is also a must. If the dealer has a 3 to a 6 and you have a 9, you also double. So the theory is that with a 10 you have the greatest chance of winning if the dealer has a lower card.

Which cards can I use for double down?

Most of the blackjack variants have the rule that you can only double if you have 9, 10 or 11 points. If this number of points is formed with an Ace, the Ace will keep a value of 1 for the rest of the game (also called ‘hand’). The third card in the hand is usually held sideways with the other two cards. This indicates that this is the last card the player has received.

When to double?
So, as you will have understood by now, you cannot simply double. If you have 9, 10 or 11 points you can double. But despite the fact that this is allowed, it is not always wise to use this, as the possibilities to double up are very limited and therefore easy to remember for other players.

In short, when to double?
With a (hard) 10 or 11 if the dealer has a 2 to 9.
With a (hard) 9 if the dealer has a 3 to 6.This is an ideal situation for doubling up when playing online blackjack.

This is an ideal situation for doubling up when playing online blackjack.

Hand signals for doubling

Suppose you have 9, 10 or 11 points and you want to double? Then place your additional bet in the bet to the left of your original bet. That is a clear signal to the others that you want to double. In principle, no specific hand signal has been agreed for doubling, but it is advisable to keep your hand closed after you have placed your extra bet. This way you avoid confusion with splitting where an extra bet can also be placed. Splitting, of course, only applies when you have two fives making a hard ten points. You cannot split at 9 or 11.

Blackjack is a fun and simple game with many options to allow players to make more choices while playing a hand. One of these options is to double the bet (Double Down).

There is even a variant named after it, namely Double Down Blackjack. That says enough about how important this option is. When a basic strategy tells you to double the bet, it is because you have an advantage at that point. It gives you the opportunity to make your profitable hand even more profitable.

Is doubling with Blackjack always wise?

But not every potential benefit that emerges is created equal. With some hands, you can make nearly twice as much profit if you didn’t double. In other hands it is only a few tenths of a euro wagered. To double your bet, place a second bet equal to your first bet. After you have doubled, you will receive one more card. There is no second card after doubling the bet.

If you are playing six-deck blackjack where a dealer has to hit soft 17, basic strategy will tell you to double your bet with hard 11 (no ace) against any face-up card of the dealer. With a hard 10 when the dealer has a card from 2 to 9 face up. With a hard 9 when the dealer shows a 3, 4, 5 or 6.

Doubling with 11 is often correct
Doubling with 11 is often correct

When you have a soft hand (including ace) where you cannot go over 21 because an ace counts as 11 and can count as 1 when you get a bad card, there are several options for doubling the bet in blackjack . If you have Ace-2 or Ace-3, double the bet if the dealer has 5 or 6. With an Ace-4 or Ace-4, double against any 4, 5 or 6. With any Ace-6, double against any 3, 4, 5 or 6. And with the Ace-7 you can double the bet against 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6.

In good circumstances you can double on any hand. For this you can look for the right blackjack variant. At an online casino you will find many variants. Some casinos will limit doubling hands to 10 and 11 or 9, 10 and 11, where you may not double with a soft hand. If you run into such restrictions, the best thing to do is to double all hands above them except Ace-7, where standing will be the next best option.

Double hands

Doubling on hard 11 is more profitable than hard 10, and they are both more profitable than hard 9 or soft hands where you can double. You get the most profit when the dealer has a 5 or 6 open. Below we have provided an example of how doubling one hand can be more profitable than the other.

If you have a hard 11 and the dealer has a 2 face up, your average profit when you hit a card is about 24% bet. If you instead double the bet and take a card, the winnings will double on average to up to 48% of your original bet. To get more exact numbers it will depend on the specific cards you get.

If your hand is an 11 and contains cards 5 and 6, the average profit from the original bet is 24.3 cents and when you double the bet it is 48.2 cents. If you have a 9 and 2 that make up the point total of 11, the average profit is 24 cents when you take a card and 47.6 cents when you double the bet.

Double Down in Blackjack
Doubles in Online Blackjack

Doubling down is twofold

The profit from doubling in blackjack is not quite double your original bet. This is because there is a chance that you will draw an Ace when hitting an extra card after doubling and this will almost always end up with a bad hand. With a basic strategy you will take 2 extra cards on a hard 12 against a face up, but every possible next card when you start with hard 11 will make you fold against a 2 from the dealer.

Now compare it with doubling a soft hand, namely Ace-2 against a 5 from the dealer. If you take a card, your average profit is 13.66 cents per dollar you bet. If you have doubled the bet, you increase this profit to 13.75 cents per dollar of your original bet.

You only win less than a tenth of a percent per dollar wagered by doubling the bet instead of just hitting a card. A big difference is that with Ace-2 against a 5 you will encounter many situations where you would have wanted even more extra cards, while you played that option when you doubled your hand.

You want to receive an extra card if you draw an Ace that gives you a soft 14. But also in cases where you get a 2 for soft 15, 3 for soft 16 and 4 for soft 17, you would still prefer the option to draw more cards. When doubling the bet in blackjack, you limit these options while there are plenty of opportunities to improve your point total.

The percentages of winning at a glance

The average profit will be higher if you double up instead of not doing it. That is why the basic strategy will say that you should double. It is important to know that the results are not fully doubled because in the meantime you can also lose hands by hitting an extra card and therefore the total profit from doubling is smaller.

Keeping that in mind, let’s divide the doubling into several layers, starting with the most profitable “Double Down” hands:

Profit on average 50% or more

  • Hard 11 against a 6:
  • Hard 11 against a 5:
  • Hard 11 against a 4:
  • Hard 10 against a 6:
  • Hard 11 against a 3:
  • Hard 10 against a 5:

Note that with a hard 11, your average profit is more than half of your original bet on a face-up 3 to 6 card, but with a hard 10, you won’t reach that level until the dealer’s face-up 5 or 6. The average final profit is much better if you start with an 11 instead of a 10.

With an 11 you get the option to convert any of the four cards with a value of 10 into a value of 21. This is the highest possible value in blackjack. With a value of 10 it is only possible to get an Ace to reach the value of 21.

Profit on average 40% to 50%

  • Hard 11 against a 2:
  • Hard 10 against a 4:
  • Hard 11 against a 7:
  • Hard 11 against a 6:
  • Hard 10 against a 3:
  • Hard 10 against a 7:

At this level you still double on hard 11 and hard 10. The most profitable hands are against the dealer’s face-up 7. This is because the dealer can already have a hand of 17 or better without having to take a card.

Profit on average 30% to 40%

  • Hard 10 against a 2:
  • Soft 18 against a 6:
  • Hard 11 against an 8:
  • Hard 9 against a 6:
  • Soft 18 against a 5:

With a win of between 30 and 40 cents you will see the first soft hands in the table, with the most profitable hand being doubling on a hard 9 against a 6.

Profit on average 20% to 30%

  • Hard 10 against an 8:
  • Hard 9 against a 5:
  • Soft 17 against a 6:
  • Soft 18 against a 4:
  • Hard 11 against a 9:
  • Soft 13 against a 6:
  • Soft 14 against a 6:
  • Soft 15 against a 6:
  • Soft 16 against a 6:

From here, the soft hands in blackjack dominate the list. The most profitable hands are the hard totals mentioned early in the list. Doubling on soft hands brings less profit.

Profit on average less than 20%

  • Hard 9 against a 4:
  • Soft 17 against a 5:
  • Hard 11 against a 10:
  • Soft 18 against a 3:
  • Hard 10 against a 9:
  • Soft 14 against a 5:
  • Soft 13 against a 5:
  • Hard 9 against a 3:
  • Soft 16 against a 5:
  • Hard 11 against an Ace:
  • Soft 15 against a 5:
  • Soft 18 against a 2:
  • Soft 17 against a 4:
  • Soft 17 against a 3:
  • Soft 16 against a 4:
  • Soft 15 against a 4:

As you can see, the above hands bring the least profit, with for example only a third of a cent when doubling on a soft 15 against a 4. Any doubling you find in the basic strategy table will be an opportunity to increase your winnings, but the opportunities with a hard 11 and hard 10 against a weak card from the dealer will give you the most profit.

Double blackjack

One of the most important rules in blackjack that players can take advantage of is doubling. Along with splitting, doubling gives players the opportunity to win (or lose) twice as much. In principle, doubling is very simple: with a promising hand, players can double their bet, after which the game continues as normal. Exactly what a promising hand is and how to get the most out of this rule is explained further below.

Clear rules about doubling apply in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe. The promising hands are laid down in the rules and doubling is only possible if you as a player have a total of 9, 10 or 11 points from your first two cards. These points of course give an excellent starting position to get 19, 20 or 21 points, with which you will often win.

At the same time, the starting position is also related to the casino’s cards. If you have 11 points yourself, but the bank starts the game with an Ace, the chance of winning is much smaller than if the bank starts with 6 points. Whether doubling is indeed worthwhile depends on both your own cards and the card of the bank.

As a rule of thumb, players should always double with 11 points, while with 10 points they should only double if the bank itself has 4, 5 or 6 points. Doubling with 9 points is only recommended if the bank has 5 or 6 points.

Double up in European and American blackjack

Split blackjack

One of the main differences between European and American blackjack is that in the American variant, players can always double. In practice, however, most players stick to the 11, 10 and 9, because the risks with other points are too great. An exception can only occur for card counters. For all other players it is better to stick to the rules of thumb.

Combine split and double

Splitting and doubling are often mentioned together, and for good reason. Both game rules give players additional ways to win. Some casinos also allow you to combine both rules. In that case, you start by splitting, after which you can also double one of the two hands. This will triple your original stake, but by making wise choices, you also stand a chance of winning three times as much.

Free Bet Blackjack

One of the newer varieties of blackjack that has been emerging in recent years is Free Bet Blackjack. As a player you get a free doubling when you have 11, 10 or 9 points. This is of course ideal, because you have a chance of making more winnings, but not the risk of losing a higher bet. In order to maintain the house advantage, the bank no longer loses at 22 points, but a draw is automatically settled with this outcome.

If you want to try this special version of Blackjack, it is best to go to the Free Bet Blackjack from Evolution Gaming. Several online casinos offer this version as a live casino variant, where you can also use low minimum bets.

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