When to Double Down in Blackjack?
In this article:
- What does it mean to double down in Blackjack
- When double down is the best move according to the basic strategy
- Double down cheat-sheet for both single-deck and multi-deck Blackjack games
The biggest mistake Blackjack players can make is not following the basic strategy.
The second biggest mistake is playing games where you can’t double down.
OR ignoring doubling down even when it is an available option.
Double down is one of the best moves you can make at the game of Blackjack.
If you use it right, you have a lower house edge and get the best odds to beat the House.
Blackjack Double Down - Explained
You can easily play Blackjack by only hitting and/or standing every single hand.
You’ll win some, you’ll lose some.
But the rules of the game doesn’t really require you to do anything else.
Double down is an extra move/additional bet you can make.
What exactly does it mean to double down in Blackjack?
When you double down, three things happen:
- You double your bet for the round
- You draw one card
- You automatically stand after (you lose the option to hit again)
You get a 5 and a 6 (11-value) while the dealer has a 7 as their open card.
You can either hit, stand, or double down.
Obviously, you don't stand.
That would make you lose your bet for no reason at all - there's no card yet that could make you bust (go over 21).
If you hit and get 10-value hand, you’ll have a 21 - second best hand after the natural Blackjack.
If your initial bet was €1, you’ll win €2 (payout 1 to 1, plus your bet back).
If you doubled down, your original bet increased to €2 and you’ll win €4 (payout 1 to 1, plus your bet back).
It may not seem like a significant difference, but it is a double win after all.
Sure, it’s a risky move to make.
Just as easily as you got that 10-value hand, you could have gotten a lousy card with low value, e.g. a 2, 3 or 4.
You’d have only a 15-value or lower hand and no chance to improve it - after you double down, you cannot hit anymore.
It’s enough to realize double down is not the move you should be making every single hand.
There’s only a handful of times when it should be used.
And they are all explained below.
When You Need to Double Down
Blackjack strategy tells you when it’s the best time to hit, stand, split, or double down.
While you can read all about it here, let’s focus only on the double down part now.
The part that’s highly overlooked by many Blackjack players.
Use double down correctly and you’ll be playing Blackjack better than the majority of Casino players.
When Multiple Decks of Cards Are Used
Most of the Casinos (both online and brick-and-mortar ones) use multiple decks of cards at the same time.
Four, six, eight - you name it.
If that’s the case, this Blackjack strategy for doubling down comes in handy.
When you have a hard 9, 10, or 11
When you have a hard hand of values from 9 to 10, you have fairly good odds of landing a 10-value hand.
If that happens, you have one of the strongest hands out there - value from 19 to 21. Your odds are the best when the dealer has a weak hand, e.g. up to a 6-value.
Thus, it’s your chance to double your bet and wait to see how it plays out.
Follow this also when you can’t split a pair of 5s or after splitting it you get another 5. It’s still a hard 10, after all.
When you have a soft 13 or 14
When your hand has an Ace that can be treated both as 1 or 11 - you have a soft hand. It opens more possibilities to double down.
When the hand is a soft 13 or 14 and the dealer shows a 5 or 6, that’s your cue.
Double down, sit back, and see if the Blackjack math is in your favor.
When you have a soft 15 or 16
Similarly goes with a soft 15 or 16.
When the dealer’s open card is fairly low, you should double your bet.
You may get a great card to eventually celebrate a 20 or 21. And if it goes over 21, your Ace will simply change its count from 11 to 1. No harm’s done.
When you have a soft 17 or 18
Not every platform will allow you to double down when you have a soft 17 or 18.
But when they do and dealer’s card is fairly low - do it.
Once again, you’re not really risking much with an Ace. Yet, you have great chances to finish your hand with a bang, e.g. 20 or 21.
When a Single Deck of Cards is Used
You can find plenty of games online where only one deck of cards is being used.
They will require a slightly modified version of the Blackjack strategy.
When you have a hard 8
When only one deck is used, you can start thinking about doubling down even sooner.
When you have a hard 8, it may seem risky to double down - so many chances to get a low card.
But not when the dealer has a 5 or 6. Then doubling down is the best move to make according to the basic strategy.
When you have a hard 9, 10, or 11
Once again, 9, 10, and 11 are magical numbers that can bring you one of the best hands in the game.
So, you want to maximize your profits when that happens.
Doubling down is the only way to do it.
When you have a soft 13, 14, 15, or 16
When you have 13, 14, 15, or 16, you will want to draw another card. It’s not very likely you’d win otherwise.
Thus, why not doubling down at the same time?
When you have a soft 17 or 18
Similar situation as before.
You already have a fairly high hand but it’s not high enough to save your bet.
Double down is the way to go here.
When you have a soft 19
A soft 19 is the highest hand when you can still make the most of it by doubling down.
But it’s only smart to do so when the dealer’s face up card is a 6.
Practice to Double Down in Blackjack
If you want to take advantage of double down in Blackjack, you need a Blackjack game that lets you double down.
You'd be surprised how many versions of Blackjack doesn't.
One that does is Classic Blackjack Gold Series by Microgaming (here).
The dealer uses only one deck of cards and the game bursts with many player-favorable features, including a whopping return to the player of 99.91 percent!
- You can double down only on your first two cards
- Only if you have a 9 to 11-value hard hand.
- It’s not possible to double down after you split
Another great option is NetEnt’s Blackjack Classic (here).
The theoretical RTP is a bit lower (99.65 percent), but it’s still going to pay you as much as possible if you follow the basic strategy and never take insurance.
You’ll have more chances to double down - it’s not as restricted as in other platforms:
- you can double down after checking your first two cards, no matter what they are
- you can double down after a split (unless you split Aces)
Both of these platforms are available at online Casinos. You have three ways to play online Blackjack there:
|Free in a demo mode||Free play; not possible to win real money||Play here >|
|For real money||Deposit, play, and cash out||Play here >|
|For Casino bonuses||Sign-up and/or deposit to get extra cash/free spins to play||Play here >|
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