What Is Double Down In Blackjack?

Blackjack strategy is all about making the right move at the right time. Before you get started and perfect the basic strategy, it’s crucial to familiarise yourself with the nuts and bolts of gameplay. Every move in blackjack can be both strategically advantageous and detrimental to your game, so make sure to cover the basics before tapping into your bankroll. If you haven’t already brushed up on blackjack rules, when to hit, stand, split and take insurance, then take a look at our previously published LV BET blackjack guides to get up to speed! This article we will dive into doubling down and outline the basic strategy behind this blackjack bet. 

What is the meaning of doubling down?

Doubling down in blackjack is an optional move (and bet) after the first two cards have been dealt. If the player doubles down, they double the wager in exchange for an additional card. Only one card will be dealt, and players will not be able to hit again. In other words, if you choose to double down, then you must increase your original bet and can only hit once, after which you must stand on your hand. 

Double down is a pretty standard bet, although some blackjack casino games may put a twist on this bet. Evolution’s Power Blackjack, for example, allows players to double, triple and even quadruple down. Additionally, games like Free Bet Blackjack offer no-cost doubling down and splitting in specific circumstances, such as doubling down on a hard total of 9, 10 and 11. 

What is double down and split in blackjack?

Doubling down in blackjack and splitting are completely different actions. While doubling down is when you double your initial bet in exchange for one more card, splitting is the action of dividing a pair (or a two-card hand with identical card values, such as 10 and J) into two separate hands. Splitting will require the player to place an equal wager on the second hand. 

Where the two concepts merge is in table variations and rules of the game. Some tables, called DAS, allow doubling down after splitting; others, called NDAS, do not permit a double down after splitting. The former is very much to the players’ advantage, as doubling down in certain circumstances can turn the tides of the game and increase the chance of winning. On top of that, a double down after a split reduces the house edge by 0.13%, which is why players will mostly encounter NDAS house rules. 

When To Double Down In Blackjack

The game of blackjack, also known as 21 or vingt-et-un, is a game of chance AND skill. Although doubling down is not an advantage play, certain hands may give you a relatively good chance of not busting while increasing the likelihood of winning against the dealer’s weaker face-up card. So, when should you double down in 21? There is only one moment when players will have the option to double down in exchange for one more card — immediately after the initial cards have been dealt. At this stage, you will know what your two cards are and what the dealer’s face-up card is. You must use this information and your point total to your advantage! Doubling down is all about maximising your chances of winning and diminishing the bankroll damage over time. 

Another factor to consider is whether the dealer must hit or stand on a soft 17 and how many decks the blackjack game is played with. Most online casino blackjack tables are played with eight decks, and the dealer must stand on 17 (S17). Live Casino blackjack games are typically NDAS tables. In general, there are three main categories of hands with which you should double down in blackjack:

  1. Your hard 9 when the dealer is showing 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 — One of the most important points in basic blackjack strategy is that 10s are more likely to be dealt due to the sheer number of 10-point cards (since all face cards are also worth 10). If you have a hard 9 and the dealer shows 2-6, you are better positioned to beat the dealer and win the round. Why? Let’s say the dealer has a 6 and draws a 10-point card, now sitting at a hard 16. The dealer then has to be dealt another card, significantly increasing the likelihood of a bust. In turn, this means that the player has a higher probability of hitting a 19 with one extra card, which is a fairly strong hand in blackjack. Statistically speaking, the dealer is more likely to go bust in the long run when showing 3, 4, 5 or 6, and far less likely to win. 
  2. Your hard total of 10 or 11 against the dealer’s face-up card of a lower value — Hard totals of 10 or 11 swing probability in your favour. Since the highest-valued cards in the deck are 10 points, it is impossible for your hand to bust with a single card. Simultaneously, the ratio of 10-point cards to those of lower value is also skewed, giving you more chances to form a stronger hand while the dealer is more likely to end up with a weaker hand or going bust, as they have to keep hitting until 17. Should you always double down on 11? The short answer is — yes, you should double down. The odds of hitting blackjack are just too good to pass up on! Even if you don’t hit that magic number, you will likely get pretty close to it. 
  3. Your soft 16, 17 or 18 when the dealer is showing 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6  — A soft hand means that one of your two cards is an ace, which can be counted as one point or as 11. If your hand is pushed over 21, then the ace assumes a value of one, making soft hands generally safer. With the ace’s flexibility in mind, a double down against the dealer’s low-valued card has decent odds of improving your hand. 

Since most tables are NDAS, we won’t go too in-depth on pairs and splitting. Generally, the same logic applies. However, keep in mind that it is disadvantageous to split a pair of 5s (hard 10), so double down if it’s allowed; otherwise, hit. 

When NOT To Double Down In Blackjack

  • Never double down when the dealer shows an ace! The dealer’s chances of getting blackjack with an ace are too significant to contest and, even if they check the hole card and don’t have blackjack, odds are that the hand total will be close to 21. Don’t double your bet on a dealer’s ace; similarly, your chances of beating a dealer’s 10 are also pretty slim. 
  • To double down when you have a total of 11 or greater is also not a good idea. The reasoning draws from the same logic — here, the chances of you busting are too high. It may be wiser to simply hit or stand on a lower total instead of taking the risk on a double down bet.

Even if you double down under optimal conditions every single time, there is no guarantee that you will see immediate success. When used correctly, this double down blackjack strategy may increase your winnings and potential profit in the long run. Be mindful of table rules and check multiple blackjack variants to see which table suits you best and which game of blackjack offers favourable doubling down conditions. 

Playing blackjack is all about strategy and probability. Master the logic, and you’ll be ready to start playing at land-based and online casinos. Research basic strategy and pull up a blackjack chart tool to help you during gameplay! Remember, if you are unsure whether to take the double down bet or not, it is best to stick to the safer option and keep your initial bet as is. Last but not least, if you’re just starting out with casino gaming — look into a 1st Deposit Bonus, often called the Welcome Bonus, which you may be eligible to claim. This one-time, 1st deposit offer can throw in some bonus funds or free spins to help you get started! 

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