Double down in blackjack

One of the popular blackjack bets at the casino is the double down bet. It’s one of the many moves you can make alongside hitting, splitting, standing, or surrendering. There are many benefits to the blackjack double down bet, but first, you must know how and when to use it.

Blackjack bets depend on both the player’s card values as well as the dealer’s up card. You’ll want to get the best hand that beats the dealer without going over 21.

This guide will reveal all you need to know about doubling down in blackjack.

What is double down in blackjack?

Double down in blackjack is when you double your bet and receive one more card from the dealer. The chance to double down is available after you receive your starting two-card hand. You must place an additional bet identical to the original stake. After this, you can only receive one more card from the dealer and make no other moves. Like most blackjack bets, this one pays at odds of 1: 1. It pays at 3: 2 if you end up with a perfect blackjack, which is an ace (valued at 11) plus a ten-value card.

When to double down in blackjack

If you’re wondering, ‘when can you double down in blackjack’, there are several scenarios where it is a good idea. You’ll usually have to consider the kind of blackjack hands you’re dealt and whatever card the dealer’s showing. Generally, doubling down is most effective when the dealer has a low-value card between 2 and 6. As for your card hand, here are the three situations when you should take this bet:

  • When your hand total is a hard 9 or 10

A hard hand is one without an ace. For context, a hard 9 can be 4 and 5, 6 and 3, 7 and 2, or 8 and 1.

This is an excellent opportunity to double down, especially if the dealer has a low-value card. Getting an extra high-value card will take you close to 21 without going over. On the other hand, the dealer with a low-value card is likely to go bust. 

For instance, if the dealer gets a 6-value card and then a 10-value card. This totals 16, but most blackjack table rules require the dealer to stand on 17. In this case, they’ll have to take another card, which will most likely take them over 21.

  • When your hand total equals 11

Having a hand total of 11 is arguably the best time to double down as long as the dealer’s up card isn’t an ace. This is even more advisable when the dealer has a low-value card.

With a hand total of 11, your next card will likely take you close to a value to 21. With this hand total, you’re also safe from going bust. If you’re lucky enough to get a ten-value card, you’ll simply hit perfect blackjack – the best outcome possible.

  • When your hand total is a soft 16, 17 or 18

As opposed to the hard hand, soft hands in blackjack are those with an ace. So, a soft 16, 17 or 18 is a hand with an ace plus a 5, 6 or 7-value card.

This is another fantastic opportunity to double down on your bet, especially when the dealer has a low card. There’s a significant probability that you’ll increase your hand with one more card. There’s no worry about going bust either. Since an ace can be either 1 or 11, it’ll be valued at 1 if your extra card turns out to be a high-value one.

When not to double down

The best blackjack strategies and tips not only tell you when to make a move but also when not to make it. There are times when you absolutely should not double down. Rather than increase your chances of winning, doubling down at the wrong time will have the opposite effect. More often than not, it will lead you to bust.

  • When the dealer has an ace

Regardless of the cards you get, you shouldn’t double down when the dealer’s up card is an ace. An ace increases the dealer’s chances of getting a perfect blackjack or a higher card total than you. Just as an ace in hand benefits your own play, it has the opposite effect when in the dealer’s hand.

  • When you have a hard hand higher than 11

The chances of going bust when you have anything higher than 11 are too high. It’s even worse when you’re dealing with a hard hand without an ace. You’d be taking a considerable risk doubling down at this point. It’s safer to simply hit to take an extra card at your current bet.

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Double down versus split in blackjack

This is not the only time where you bet double in blackjack. The split bet is another blackjack move that many players confuse with doubling down. Both options are similar because they involve doubling your original stake. However, double down blackjack rules require you to multiply your bet on your two-card hand. On the other hand, the split bet requires you to split your card hand in two and make an identical bet on the second hand. Split bets are only possible when your starting cards are of the same value, such as two 6s.

You can learn more about blackjack split rules and tips in our guide.

Tips for doubling down

It’s a good idea to learn the casino rules before deciding to double down. Depending on the particular blackjack table you’re playing at, there may be different blackjack double down rules. Some games will allow you to double down only when you have a 10 or 11. Others do not impose any restrictions and will accept the bet with any hand value.

Another casino rule you should note is when the dealer is required to stand (take no more cards). Sometimes, the dealer must stand on a 17. Other times, they need to stand on 16. The second option makes it less likely for the dealer to go bust.

Ultimately, when you’re unsure about doubling down, it’s better to stick to your original wager. Doubling down means you have twice as much money at risk, which will be a more significant loss.

Remember that:

  • You can only double down after receiving the two initial cards
  • You need to place an additional wager equal to the original stake
  • You will not be able to double down after hitting or splitting
  • This bet works best when the dealer has a low-value card between 2 and 6

Double down and win twice as much

The blackjack double down bet is a profitable bet if you know how to do it right. Naturally, the more you bet, the higher your returns. However, placing large amounts at the start of the round can be risky, especially if you’re a beginner.

Fortunately, with the double down bet, you’re taking a risk when it’s safest. Based on the cards you’re dealt and the dealer’s up card, you can tell if you have a relatively higher probability of winning than the dealer. You then take advantage and double your bet.

Now that you know how to double down, pick a table and give it a try.

Author: Tanya Fields

Campaign Acquisition Manager Length with RC: 1 year, 9 months Favorite Casino Game: Starburst Background in iGaming: Opened the iGaming Department at Hard Rock Atlantic City in 2018 in both Customer Service, and then CRM, prior to moving over to RC in January 2021 Location: Based in NJ at the RC HQ Content: Occasionally, but only as it pertains to RC

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