Blackjack games offer one of the lowest house edges in the casino.
But the house edge only stays low with optimal strategy. Using the double down correctly can help you get a bigger advantage over the house.
What is doubling down in blacjack?
At the start of a blackjack game, an initial bet is placed before the cards are dealt and most of the time, you will not be able to place any additional bets.
Dealers with a lot of decks will have more 10-value cards (tens, jacks, queens and kings). So, if you are sitting at a table that is playing with 6 or 8 decks, you have a better chance of getting that 10.
If you’re not sure what to do and when, printing out a cheat sheet or a table of doubling strategies is a good idea. These will help you to know when is the optimal time to double down depending on your cards and the dealer’s cards.
Here is an example of a doubling down strategy, playing a standard game of European Blackjack.
- Your cards: 5-4 (total 9)
- Dealer’s face-up card: 3
Looking at the cheat sheet, you’ll see that if a player has a 9 and the dealer has a 3, it’s a good time to double down. Why? A 3 is not a good card for the dealer, so he will probably have to deal more cards regardless of what comes up and risk going over 21.
If the dealer shows an ace, don’t worry about doubling down. If he gets a 10, he’ll make 21 and you’ll only match the hand at best.
Fold with a soft hand
With a soft hand (a hand containing an ace that counts as 1 or 11) you have more options available to you. Because the ace can count as 1, you can double down and draw a high card such as a 10, or a low card and make your total that way.
For example, you are dealt an A-7, which is worth 8 or 18. After doubling down, with a 2 or 3 you will have a total of 20 or 21. However, with a 9 or 10, you will have 17, so that is a good hand against a dealer showing a low card.
Doubling down with a strong hand
This table shows the best moves to make if you have a hard hand (a hand that does not contain an ace).
Advantages and disadvantages of doubling down
Doubling down is like being able to place an additional bet when your hand is more likely to win. You will have to pay twice as much for the bet, so you will risk more, but you will have more information in front of you.
Remember, you can also double down when you have a split hand in some games. So, if you get 10-10 and then the dealer shows a 3, 4, 5 or 6, you can split the tens, double both and try to get 21 on both hands.
On the other hand, doubling down also carries risks. Remember, the dealer always shows his cards after the players, so he has more information at hand. This is what gives the house a slight advantage over the players. Also, if there is a tie, only the player’s bet is returned.