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Blackjack Double Down Strategy

Most Blackjack players know when to hit vs. when to stand, but do you know what hands should be doubled? If not, you may be leaving money on the table. A double down in Blackjack involves doubling your wager and receiving one additional card before being forced to stand off against the Dealer. It’s a risky move that pays dividends when it’s done right.

Incorporating the Blackjack double down into your arsenal of moves will let you take your game to the next level and potentially increase profits at the table. If you’re new to the game and are curious about Blackjack strategy, we’ll guide you on how to become a double down expert by explaining double down rules to live by, hands to watch for, and the math behind the strategy. Once you know the theory, you can practice this new move on the felt by using any of our nine Blackjack games as training grounds.

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When to Double Down in Blackjack – Rules to Live By

Certain scenarios in Blackjack beg for a double down, and knowing how to recognize these scenarios should be part of any beginner Blackjack player’s training. Keep in mind these eight rules when playing multi-deck Blackjack (with the Dealer hitting on soft 17), and you’ll be ahead of the game.

Double Down Rules for Hard Hands:

1. Always double on 11.

2. Double down on 10, unless the Dealer shows a 10 or Ace.

3. Double down on 9 against all small Dealer upcards (up to and including 6)—except for 2.

Double Down Rules for Soft Hands:

4. Double down on soft 13 and 14 when the Dealer shows a 5 and 6.

5. Double down on soft 15 and 16 when the Dealer shows a 4 to 6.

6. Double down on soft 17 against all Dealer small cards (up to and including 6).

7. Double down on soft 18 against all Dealer small cards (up to and including 6)—except for 2.

8. Double down on soft 19 against a Dealer 6.

What Does it Mean to Double Down in Blackjack?

Doubling down involves putting a second wager on the table that’s equal to your original wager. For example, if you put $10 on the table, your double down wager would bring your total bet up to $20, meaning you would win $20 on a standard winning hand, and $30 if you get a natural (Ace and 10-value card).

Once your second wager is on the table, you’ll receive one more card, and then be forced to stand off against the Dealer. Keep in mind, this move is available only with your original two-card hand, so if you hit, you won’t get the option of doubling afterward.

When Should You Double Down in Blackjack?

As you may have gathered from our rules to live by, the best time to double down is when receiving a 10-value card would get you close to 21 points. That’s why the top hand to double down on is an 11, and the second-best is a 10.

The second part of the double down equation is the Dealer’s upcard. When the Dealer is more likely to bust, the doubling range is wider (i.e. doubling on a score of 9 when the Dealer has a Three to Six). Conversely, the doubling range is tighter when the Dealer has a competitive upcard, such as a 10 or Ace, which calls for a double down only on a score of 11 and nothing less.

Can You Double Down After Hitting?

Double Down can be used only as a first move, so you can’t double after hitting. Other restrictions include only being able to double down on hard totals of 9 to 11 when playing European Blackjack. All of our other versions of Blackjack let you double on any two cards.

Should You Always Double Down on 11?

No matter what version of Blackjack you’re playing, always double down on a score of 11. Your odds of landing Blackjack are just over 1 in 3. The only time seasoned Blackjack players won’t make this move is if they’re counting cards and know that the remainder of the deck has a higher-than-average number of low cards.

The Math Behind Doubling Down

In the 1960’s, Edward O. Thorp, a math professor who devised probability theory, changed the nature of Blackjack by establishing what’s now known as basic strategy. With the use of computers, he determined the expected Return to Player on every possible hand combination, between the player’s score and Dealer’s upcard, and suggested the appropriate action (hit, stand, double, etc.) based on the numbers. For example, a score of 11 vs. a Dealer 6 has a 0.333 Return to Player when you hit, and a 0.667 Return to Player when you double down, making double down the optimal move.

Last Words

There is a great divide between Blackjack players when it comes to doubling down. Aggressive players love it, while conservative ones veer away from it—simply because of the limitations of receiving just one additional card. If you find yourself in the latter camp, hopefully you’ll feel more confident now that you know the theory behind it, as well as the best scores to support a successful double down. Experiment with this new move on Practice Play mode and note how it improves your win percentage. We’re certain you’ll quickly see why seasoned Blackjack players can’t live without it.

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