When to Double Down in Blackjack

blackjack double down

Are you ready to take your blackjack game to the next level? The move that really takes your gameplay from blackjack newbie to blackjack rock star is the ‘Double Down’. Most beginners are afraid to attempt this move because of the risk involved, but when used at the appropriate moment, doubling down is much less risky than it appears. In fact, by shying away from the double down, you’re missing out on a potentially lucrative opportunity.

Don’t fret, help is at hand! We’re here to talk you through the double down and help you learn how to use it to its full advantage.


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How the Double Down Works

The double down is a move that allows you to double your original bet (and, therefore, give yourself the chance to double your winnings) after the initial cards have been dealt to both the player and the dealer. The decision to go for the double down, therefore, is based on the cards in your hand and the dealer’s face up card. If you choose to go for the double down, you will double your original bet and once you’ve done that, you will only be allowed to request one hit, meaning your final hand will be made up of only three cards. The fact that you can only request one hit after you double down is what makes the move quite risky, and it’s the reason that you have to be pretty certain of success before you make the move.

But how can you be certain of success in a game that is predominately luck based? The hard truth is that there is no guarantee that things will go your way. However, thanks to the fact that blackjack is a mathematical game, a computer programme has managed to work out the probability of every hand’s chance of success in relation to the dealer’s face up card. You will find the results of this computer programme neatly laid out in the basic blackjack strategy chart. All you need to do is check your hand against the chart and it will inform you of when to make the double down move. In fact, before you hit the blackjack tables, we recommend that you do your best to memorise the blackjack chart -you’ll give yourself away as a newbie if you have to keep referring to the chart at the table. We also recommend that you get in lots of practice at one of our recommended online casinos. We’ve put together a list of the best casino sites to play both RNG blackjack and live casino blackjack, which you can find here.

A Good Time to Make Your Move

A good time to use the double down move is when any of the following situations presents itself:

  • Your hand totals a hard 9 and the dealer’s cards are low (below 7, excluding an Ace) – A hard 9 means that your 9 is made up of 2 low cards, neither of which is an Ace.
  • Your hand is a soft 16, 17 or 18 and the dealer’s cards are low (below 7, excluding an Ace). A soft hand is a hand that is made up of an Ace and a number card. It is called a soft hand because the Ace can be used as a 1 or as an 11. A soft 17, for example, is an Ace + 6, which equals 7 (1 + 7) or 17 (11 + 6).
  • Your hand is a hard 10 or a hard 11 and the dealer’s cards are low (below 7, excluding an Ace). This is a particularly good hand because the chances of getting close to 21 with just one more card are increased significantly without there being the risk of going bust. If the dealer’s cards are low, the dealer is unlikely to able to get as close to 21. Your chances of winning with this hand are excellent.

A Bad Time to Make Your Move

One word of warning: it may seem like a good idea to double down whenever you have a soft hand, but there are three soft hands where you absolutely should not double down. If you have a soft 12, a soft 13 or a soft 14, you are unlikely to get a high enough hand to win because you’ll almost certainly need more than just one more hit to do so. You’ll also need to take note of the casino’s own rules on doubling down on a soft hand. Unfortunately, there are many casinos that simply won’t allow you to do so; in that case, stick to doubling down on your hard 10 or hard 11.

More blackjack guides

There is much to learn in order to play optimal blackjack. You will come a great way by reading our guides on how to play your hand in blackjack below.

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