Double Down Blackjack Strategy – Do You Know When to Do It?
Last Updated: October 4, 2023
Checked by: Zvonimir Potocki
Images from shutterstock.com
Blackjack is probably the most popular card game played in the gambling pits in casinos worldwide, with baccarat fighting for the spot in many parts of the world.
Unlike many other casino games, blackjack actually only gives the house a tiny edge, less than one percent. However, this is only the case for players who play a good blackjack strategy.
A key part of a good blackjack strategy is knowing when to double down. Doubling down in blackjack is one of the several moves players get to make when the hand is dealt, and it is critical to not losing too much at the tables.
If you want to give yourself the best chance to win at blackjack, you need to learn everything there is about doubling down.
In this article, I will explain what is double down in blackjack, when and how it is best applied, and when it should be avoided.
What is Double Down in Blackjack?
When a blackjack hand is first dealt, you will receive two cards. At this point, you will be able to hit or stand, which are the two most basic blackjack plays.
However, the game also includes other options such as split, double down, or insurance. Each of these plays a critical part in a winning blackjack strategy.
An important thing to note here is that every casino, whether live or online, will have its own rules at the different blackjack tables. You should be aware of all these rules before you jump into the game.
In games in which doubling down is allowed, players can double down by pushing a stack of chips equal to their initial bet in front of them. Online, you can do so by clicking the double down button.
When you double down, you are dealt just one more card, with no further options to hit, split, or take insurance. Your bet is effectively doubled.
Doubling down can be a great way to win extra money in situations when the hand showed gives you a clear advantage. But first, let us discuss when doubling down is even possible.
When Can Use Blackjack Double Down?
The double down blackjack option is available after your initial cards have been dealt. However, every casino has its own blackjack rules, and these tend to change the overall house edge that the casino has.
Typically, every blackjack game will allow you to double down when the total of your two initial cards is either ten or eleven.
In most cases, this is also when you want to take the double down blackjack option.
However, many casinos also allow you to double down regardless of the total of your initial cards, while some will allow it on nine, ten, and eleven.
In some casinos, you are able to double down after you have split your cards. This means you can double down one or each of your new blackjack hands if you so desire.
In practically every casino, you will not be allowed to double down once you have already hit, with other options such as split and insurance also going off the table.
When Should I Double Down?
This brings us to the real question. When should I use the blackjack double down option in the first place? The answer is that there are a few times when you should do it.
Primarily, double down is a great option to use when you are dealt a total of eleven on your first two cards. Holding eleven gives you a great chance to hit 21 on your next card, which means you can't be beaten. Holding 21 is a bit like having a royal flush in the game of poker, as the worst thing that can happen is for you to tie with the dealer.
What’s even more, even if you don’t hit 21, you could hit 20, 19, or 18, each of them likely to be the winner.
Doubling down on 11 is practically mandatory, and you should never be afraid to go after it. This is a better way to make money than waiting for the next hand.
Doubling down on ten is also a good idea. If you are dealt ten, and the dealer is holding a small card, you should go for a double down.
The dealer holding a small card means there is a good chance they will bust. If you can get a ten or an ace, you will have a great hand. If you don't, the dealer could still bust, or you will win with your 18 or 19 against their 17 or 18.
Holding a soft 16, 17, or 18 are also good times to double down. If the dealer is showing a low card, you should go for that blackjack double down and try to improve your hand further while also increasing your bet.
When Not to Use the Double Down Blackjack Option
Doubling down on eleven is practically always a great idea, while doubling down on ten is usually a winning play. But what about other situations?
While many casinos will let you double down on your nine, and some let you double down regardless of your cards, these options are rarely to your advantage.
Doubling down on anything under a nine is absolutely a losing play.
Doubling down a nine could be a winning play against some hole cards that the dealer is holding, but only marginally.
Even when you are dealt a ten, remember that you should only look to use the option of doubling your bet if the dealer is showing a six or lower.
If the dealer is also holding a ten, you should not be doubling down on your ten. If the dealer is showing an ace, you should not be doubling down on your ten. This has nothing to do with how big your bankroll is or isn’t. It’s just fundamental math behind the game.
Likewise, if you are dealt anything over an eleven, with the exception of the soft hands I mentioned earlier, you should not be looking to double down. There is simply too great a chance that you will bust.
Doubling Down at Different Blackjack Tables
Before you use the blackjack double down strategy I just explained, you should make sure to understand the rules of the table you are playing at.
Each casino has slightly different rules at blackjack, and some of these are directly related to the double down.
For instance, in some casinos, the dealer will always check for a blackjack if they are showing an ace. If they look and the action is continued, this means they don't have 21 just yet, which means doubling down is still an option for you.
Furthermore, you should find out if the dealer is forced to deal up to 16 or 17. This can also affect how often you want to double down, as them having to hit at 16 increases their chance to bust the hand.
Also, when you sit down, ask whether you can double down on eleven only or if other options are allowed. In a perfect world, you would want to be able to split your nine as well and use it sometimes.
Other than this, most other blackjack rules will be the same in nearly all casinos and local poker rooms. By playing a good basic strategy and doubling down when required, you will increase the amount of money you win per hand, guaranteed.
Blackjack Double Down FAQs
How do you double down in blackjack?
If you are playing in a live casino and want to double up, simply push forward a stack of chips equal to your initial bet. Don’t put those chips on top of your initial bet, but next to it. In an online casino, simply click the double down button.
When should you double down?
You should double down when you hold an 11, when you hold a ten and the dealer holds a low card, when you have a soft 16, 17, or 18, and sometimes when you hold a 9. Note that some of these options may not be allowed in some games.
How many cards do you get when you double down?
If you choose to use the double option, you will only get one more card. Regardless of what that card is, you will lose any further options and will not be able to hit, split, surrender, or get insurance after that point.
Should you always double down on 11?
While there are some theoretical situations in which you should not, depending on the rules of the particular table, you can keep things simple and always double down on 11. In the long run, this move will show a profit.
Should you always double down on 10?
No! You should always double down if you are holding ten and the dealer is holding a card lower than a seven. However, if you have ten and the dealer also has 10 or 11, you should not double your bet. If they have 7, 8, or 9, doubling or not will be fairly even in value.
Can you double down when you split?
In most casinos, you will not be able to double your bet once you have split your cards. Yet, some casinos, especially online, do allow for split hands to be doubled. If this is the case, use the same logic for each of your split hands that you use for your initial hand.
Can you double down after hitting?
No! There are practically no blackjack games in which you can double down after hitting. However, this move, if allowed, can be used to great benefit as it allows you to double down on plenty of high soft hands.