When Should You Double Down in Blackjack?

Blackjack is one of the most popular card games in casino history. To win in blackjack, you need to rely on rigorous practice and well-thought-out strategies. However, to win big, you need a little bit of luck, timing, and knowing when to double down.

Doubling down is one of the most thrilling moves in blackjack and the best-known bet of the game. Surprisingly, most fail to comprehend the ins and outs of the move and how timing plays an essential part. If done correctly, doubling down can boost your winnings big time. No doubt, it is a risky move, but then it also increases your payout. However, you need to double down exactly when you have the upper hand on the dealer for the risk to pay off. This article will help you get a cursory understanding of double down in blackjack and when to play it successfully. 

What is double down in blackjack?

In simple terms, double down in blackjack means you double your bet (equal to your ante) in the middle of a hand for one extra card. While playing, you receive two cards and only get to see the upcard of the dealer’s hand. Your strategy of playing your hand depends on the assessment of the relative strength of your cards against that of the dealer. Hitting and receiving a third card or taking no further action are two of the most obvious moves in blackjack. You can also split if you have two cards of the same value and play them as separate hands.  

But in doubling down, you simply double your initial wager. Let us say you put a bet of $3 at the beginning of the play. If you assess that your holding cards are stronger than the dealer, you double down by adding another $3 to receive another card. Upon doubling down, the dealer might go on to bust, or your hand beats the dealer. 

When to double down in blackjack?

The whole point of doubling down in blackjack is to exploit your advantage against the dealer. There are 3 common instances of having a statistical upper hand against the dealer and the best time to double down:

  1. With a hard 9 or 10

A “hard” hand usually means when there are no aces involved. This is a good time to double down if only you find that the dealer has a weak show of hands. If your assessment of the dealer’s weak cards turns out to be true, you stand to win big with your double-down move. 

  1. With a soft 16,17, or 18

A “soft” hand refers to possessing an ace plus another card. Holding an ace increases your chances of hitting 21 or at least getting very close to it. Hence, a soft hand can be a key to winning blackjack. However, do not get overconfident and double down only if the dealer is holding a weak hand. 

  1. When the total of your cards equals 11

If the cards you are holding equal 11, then you double down. It is the most common instance of doubling down in blackjack because there is a good chance you will hit blackjack with one extra card. If not, you get close to 21, or at the very least, you would not break 21. 

When NOT to double down in blackjack?

Most amateur blackjack players double down at half chances just to experience the thrill of it. We understand the emotions, but to win, you need to be rational and calculative. There are times when you definitely should not double down, such as:

  1. If your hard hand is higher than 11

A hard hand equalling more than 11 is one of the most unfortunate combinations of cards to hold in blackjack. Your chances of going bust get too high, and doubling down is a major risk you need to avoid. The golden rule of doubling down is never to take the risk if you are not sure. 

  1. If the dealer holds an ace

As discussed above, the ace is the key to winning in blackjack. So if you see your dealer holding an ace, it is a strict NO on doubling down. The odds are in the dealer’s favor of hitting a blackjack. 

Conclusion

The house edge in blackjack over an inexperienced player is around 2%. Hence, if you are unfamiliar with the rules and strategies of the game, it might be very hard for you to win or break even. Go through the rulebook, understand the game properly, and devise your strategies before trying your luck at the blackjack table.

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