Blackjack is a classic card game that’s a mainstay in most land-based and online casinos. In this table game, players aim for the magic number of 21 without busting. Blackjack is also one of the two skill-based online casino games, with the other being poker. Consequently, the house or other players will often whitewash you if you don’t have the skills to play the game.
One of the most successful blackjack strategies is doubling down. But, what is double down in blackjack? When should players use this strategy? Today we are answering these questions, so let's dive right in.
As the name hints, doubling down in blackjack is a thrilling move that allows players to double their ante bet during an active hand. In return, the player in question gets an extra card, and they must stand afterward. Although this can be risky if dealt a low card, it can also increase the overall payout.
That’s why the next section looks at when exactly is the perfect time to double down in blackjack. It’s all about getting the balancing act right between risking and playing safe. So, keep reading!
In blackjack, players can only double down after being dealt two cards. If this happens, there are three double-down opportunities that you should exploit. These opportunities allow players to create a better hand than the dealer without going bust. (Busting is when a pair of cards hits over 21)
3 Double Down opportunities in Blackjack:
Is your hand total equal to 11? Then this is undoubtedly the perfect opportunity to double down. With a hand total of 11, the chances of getting an additional card that will hit 21 or anything closer to it is very high. If you don’t hit Blackjack, you will mostly get 20, 19, or 18, and with any of these hands, you are likely to win the game. So, all in all, double down as soon as you have a hand total of 11.
A soft hand is a hand total with an Ace and another card on top. For example, a soft 17 hand can have Ace + 2 + 4. In other words, ace cards count as 1 or 11. Soft hands are very beneficial because players can adjust their hand totals accordingly.
Consider doubling down when your hand shows a soft 16, 17, or 18. But don’t be too quick to double down unless the dealer’s face-up card is low (2 to 6). Always remember that the ace can be 1 or 11, depending on the card deal.
Hard blackjack hands are the exact opposite of soft hands. Here, you have a hand total without an Ace. Therefore, these hands are not as flexible as soft hands, since you can’t exploit certain situations.
But if you find yourself with a hard 9 or 10, then that’s an excellent opportunity to double down. However, the dealer’s face-up card should be 2 to 6. The thing is that the dealer will have to hit to reach 17, so they may bust.
Up to here, you should be eager to start doubling down in blackjack. Well, hold your horses until you learn to spot some situations to avoid. There are some blackjack situations where players must not double down even at gunpoint. They include:
Having an Ace card is exciting for blackjack players. But so it is for the dealer. If the croupier shows an Ace, the odds are definitely in their favor to hit 21 with their next card. So, withhold any temptation to double down.
If your hand total is bigger than 11, your chances of going bust are high. Unfortunately, most players overlook this moment due to the excitement of the game. Instead of doubling down with a hand total of more than 11, hit and pray that the croupier busts. Blackjack, as you know, is full of surprises.
Hitting and splitting are common strategies in blackjack. To hit is to take an additional card until you reach or exceed 21. In other words, you can hit as many times as you want. On the other hand, gamers can split a hand if their first two cards have the same face value. But can you double down in these scenarios?
Typically, the dealer won’t allow players to double down after hitting, as this will tremendously increase their edge over the house. In addition, most casinos don’t allow doubling down after splitting.
Blackjack is a game full of twists and turns. Fortunately, the double-down strategy can give you an edge over the dealer. Just master the art of when to use it. But even with that, know that the house edge always wins. So, don’t get your hopes high. If you are just starting your journey, trying to understand how to play, we recommend further readings such as common blackjack mistakes or how to match the dealer in Blackjack.