Double Down Blackjack

Article by Andy Potts
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Last Updated: Jun 14th, 2024 Share On Your Network:

So, you’ve mastered some of the basics of blackjack – you know when you stand and when to hit, and maybe you’ve even won a few hands. 

But if you want to make your gameplay even more exciting and possibly stand a chance at a bigger win, you might want to find out a bit more about what doubling down is, and how it works. 

Put simply, doubling down is just doubling your bet before you get a third card. If you’re confident that you might have the winning hand, this could be a chance to double your potential win. 

In our full guide, we’ll go into details about the strategic elements of doubling down, what the potential risks are, and some handy tips and tricks. 

What Is Blackjack?

blackjack mockup AU

It’s safe to say that blackjack is the most widely played card game in the world, both at online casinos and their land-based counterparts.

Blackjack has been around in some form for at least 400 years, having progressed from a Spanish card game to an English version called Twenty-One. 

The object of the game is to get a hand that’s closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand but without going over 21. If your hand reaches more than 21, you’ll go “bust”, which means that you lose immediately. 

Here’s some important terminology for you to learn before you play:

  • Hit: Take another card to try to make a better hand.
  • Stand: Stick with the two cards you have.
  • Split: Split your original hand into two separate hands.
  • Double down: Double your bet for a chance to increase your win.
  • Bust: When you go over 21. You will lose the hand immediately.

When you take your seat at the blackjack table (whether virtual or in-person), you’ll need to place your bets, and then the dealer will hand out one card face up to each player and to themselves.

Next, each player gets a second card face up, but the dealer gets one face down, and the value isn’t revealed until it’s the dealer’s turn. 

All the number cards in blackjack hold their face value, while the picture cards are all valued at 10. An ace can either be a one or an 11, depending on the other cards in the hand.

Once you’ve seen your two cards, you can decide to either stand or hit. Standing means sticking with the hand you have while hitting means taking another card to try to get your hand closer to 21. 

You can take as many more cards as you want until you go bust or until the dealer wins. If your hand is closer to 21, you’ll be paid out a stake equal to your original bet. 

If you beat the dealer with blackjack (ace + 10 or a picture card), you will win a payout of 3:2, rather than 1:1.

There are lots of different variations of blackjack, especially when you play at online casinos. All the variations come with their own special features. 

For example, if you’re playing in the live casino environment, you might choose Lightning Blackjack, where certain cards have multipliers, or Speed Blackjack, which operates at twice the speed of the regular game. 

Each variation also has its own side bets, which you can place alongside your main bets.

Unlike some other casino games like pokies, you can apply specific strategies to your blackjack play to give yourself a better chance of winning. 

There are certain scenarios where you would do best to stand, hit, or double down, so it’s important to have a little bit of background and understand basic blackjack strategy before you start playing so that you’ll have the best possible chance of winning.

What Is Double Down in Blackjack?

10 4 blackjack cards

As we mentioned earlier, doubling down is the act of doubling your bet in the middle of a hand. The new bet that you place is equal to your original bet (your “ante”), which is where the phrase “doubling down” comes from. 

As this strategy involves staking more money on your bet, it makes sense that you should only do it when you’re confident that you’re going to win.

So, how exactly does doubling down work? Once you’ve seen your first two cards and the dealer’s first card, you might feel confident that you’ll beat the dealer, so you can increase your bet for the chance to win more money. 

When you’re playing at a land-based casino, you can double down by pushing more chips onto the table, and at online casinos, it will be an option that you can select on the screen.

When you double down, you’ll only be given one more card, and you can’t hit after that, so you’ll need to understand some of the risks first, which we’ll go into detail about in the next sections.

According to basic blackjack strategy, it’s best to double down when your original hand totals 9, 10, or 11, or if you have a hand with an ace, totalling 16, 17, or 18. 

You should never double down if your hard hand totals more than 11 or if the dealer’s first card is an ace. 

You won’t be able to double down if you have a hand totalling 21 because that’s an automatic win, and doubling down needs to be done before a win.

The Strategic Element of Doubling Down in Blackjack

Doubling down can be a great strategy for helping you increase your wins, but it’s important that you know exactly when to do it because doubling down is not without its risks. 

Of course, doubling down also adds a bit of an extra element of thrill to the game, adding to the fun of the experience. 

The most important thing to understand is when it’s the right time to double down on your bets. We’ll list a few scenarios where it’s a good idea to double down:

When your cards total 11

If your two original cards total 11, there’s a good chance that if you take one more card, you might get blackjack (a total of exactly 21) or close to it. 

Because the value of the picture cards is 10, and an ace is only an 11 when it won’t push you over 21, you don’t run the risk of going bust by picking one more card when your total is at 11.

If you have a hard 9 or 10

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A hard hand is when you don’t have an ace among your cards. This means that the value of your hand is fixed, so if your cards total 9 or 10 and the dealer is showing a lower value, you have a good chance of winning the hand, and it makes sense to double down.

If you have a soft 16, 17, or 18

A soft hand is one that contains an ace, which is significant because this card can count as 1 or 11, depending on which would be more beneficial to you. It’s a good idea to double down on a soft 16, 17, or 18 if the dealer’s first card is showing 3 – 6.

Variations and House Rules

live dealer blackjack mockup AU

It’s important to remember that each online casino will have slightly different rules for blackjack, especially if you’re playing in the live casino environment, where there are dozens or even hundreds of potential variations of the games. 

You should always have a quick look at the rules of the specific table before you place your bets so that you can understand the double-down rules.

In certain variations of blackjack, you can only double down in some situations, for example, where your hand totals 9, 10, or 11. 

In this case, the house edge of the game increases by 0.09%, which is good for the casino but not so good for the player. Similarly, some casinos only let you double down on 10 or 11, which boosts the house edge by 0.18%.

Some blackjack tables allow you to split your original hand into two, giving you two chances of winning. 

However, in this case, you won’t generally be allowed to double down on either of your hands. When you’re not allowed to double down after a split, the casino’s house edge is increased by 0.14%.

In general, you won’t be able to double down after hitting, so it’s important to decide as soon as you see your hand whether you want to double down. 

If you’re not 100% confident about your hand, some tables allow you to double down for less, which means that you don’t stake double your money, but you do increase your bet by a small amount. 

For example, if you’re playing for $5, you might decide to double down for an extra $2.50 rather than the full $5.

Double Down Tips and Tricks

The most common mistake people make when doubling down is that they do it without being sure that they have an advantage. This is an easy mistake to make if you’re new to playing blackjack or you haven’t quite mastered the strategy yet. 

The best way to avoid this is simply by following the strategy that we outlined above and only ever doubling down when you’re confident that you’re going to win. 

Remember, when you double down, you’ll only get one more card, and there’s always a risk that this card will either be of too low a value to get you near 21 or of a much higher value and push you well over 21 so that you go bust.

One occasion to never double down is when the dealer has an ace. When this happens, there’s a good chance that they’ll either hit blackjack or get very close to it, so you’re likely to lose anyway, and there’s no point in risking more money.

When you have a hand that’s higher than 11, it’s also not a good idea to double down. This is because you run a real risk of going bust if you choose another card, as your total is already quite high. You don’t want to risk double the money if you have a chance of losing.

It’s also important to think about your budget when you’re doubling down. For very small bets, it might not make too much of a difference, but if you’re a real high roller, you need to be okay with the fact that you could potentially lose an even larger amount of money if you double down and then go on to lose.

If you follow the double-down tips that we’ve given you throughout this guide, you should have a pretty good chance of using this strategy wisely to help secure a bigger win. 

Final Words

Blackjack is a thrilling card game, largely due to the element of strategy that goes into it. Unlike slots, you can boost your winning chances at the blackjack table if you use certain tactics. Doubling down is one such tactic.

Doubling down is the ideal way to increase your win if you’re confident about your hand, but of course, you shouldn’t do it without thinking about the cards in play.

Remember, when you double down, you’ll be risking twice the amount of money, so although you have the chance to win a lot more, you could also lose all of your money if the cards don’t fall in your favour.

Overall, doubling down in blackjack is worth it if you understand the risks and have considered all the possibilities and applied a real strategy to your betting. After all, who wouldn’t want the chance at an even bigger win?

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