As many avid casino gamers will already know, one of the best games for you to play to keep the house edge as low as possible is Blackjack.
This simple card game has many fans, including stars like Ben Affleck, and it is massively popular in real world casinos, as well as in those available online, such as Chumba Casino.
One of the reasons why it is popular with casino gamers is that it is one of the few casino games that is not totally down to chance. There is a small but important strategic element to the game of Blackjack which, if you can understand the best strategy and implement it, will increase your odds of success.
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One of the parts of the game of blackjack is deciding when you are going to ‘Double Down’ on a hand and in this article, we are going to look at what this is, how you can do it (both online and in a real world casino) and of course, the key thing we will look at is when you should, and should not, be doubling down in a game.
But let’s begin with an explanation of what Doubling Down is in Blackjack.
What is Doubling Down?
Doubling Down in blackjack is an option a player has in the middle of a hand when they can see the value of the two cards that they have been dealt.
If they decide to double down, then they place down an amount of money that is equal to their original stake, so if you are playing Blackjack for $5 per hand, then you would put down another $5 in chips to double down.
Once you double down, then you double your stake for that hand and are dealt one more card. You have no other options available to you at this time.
If your hand wins, then you receive a payout on both your original stake and the double down bet, which of course doubles your profit for that hand.
However, if you double down and lose, then you lose both the stake and your double down bet.
This is a gamble that, when used correctly, can give players a slight edge in blackjack as you can learn the optimum times to double down in a game to increase your chances of a win.
When Should I Double Down?
One of the benefits with blackjack is that the strategy for the game has been so clearly defined, that it is very easy to decide when you should double down.
Outlined below are the times when you should Double Down most advantageously in Blackjack. For those unfamiliar with terminology, “Hard” refers to a hand that does not include an ace (and therefore cannot be changed) whereas ‘Soft” refers to a hand that does include an ace.
The examples are shown in the format Your Hand against the Dealers Hand
- Hard 9 against any 2, 3, 4, 5 or dealers 6 up card.
- Soft 16, 17 or 18 against any 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 dealers up card.
- Hard 10 or 11 against any lower value Dealer card.
In all these instances, it is the opportune moment to strike and Double Down on your bet. The aim being that you can land another card without the risk of going bust, and have the opportunity to improve your hand, whilst at the same time, the conditions are not favorable for the dealer to beat you.
It is important to note that if you have a hand that is close to a Hard 9, Soft 16, 17 or 18 or Hard 10 or 11, then there will be different strategies to follow rather than doubling down. For example, if instead of a Hard 9 (say the 4 of spades and 5 of clubs) you have a Soft 9 (ace of clubs and eight of spades), then you should not double down here and instead you should Stand.
Similarly, if you have a Hard 9 and the dealer is showing an 8 in their up card, then you should not double down in this situation as the odds are not as much in your favor.
Is It Worth Doubling Down In Blackjack?
Absolutely it is, provided you do it at the right time as outlined above. By Doubling Down at the right time in a game of blackjack you can reduce the house edge by a further 1.46% in your favor. Now that doesn’t sound much, but over the longer term, that can be the difference between you making a profit or loss on the game, especially with the house edge being close to 50/50.
However, to achieve that kind of reduction in house edge, you do need to double down at the correct times. If you double down at other times, when the strategy suggests you should make a different call, then you will erase any advantage that doubling down can give you.
Can I Double Down After I Have Hit?
If you have already hit and received a third card to your hand, you cannot then double down. You are only allowed to double down after the first two cards have been dealt to you.
Can I Split My Cards And Then Double Down?
If you elect to split two cards of the same value into two hands, then you have to add a second stake to the original bet to cover the new second hand. In the vast majority of blackjack games, you are then no longer allowed to double down.
If I Am Playing In A Casino, How Do I Signal I Want To Double Down?
Usually, if you move a stack of chips equal to the size of the stack you have placed for your first bet after receiving your two cards, the dealer will know that you are going to double down. Remember, don’t place your chips on top of the original bet, place them next to it.
If the dealer hasn’t noticed then you can point one finger at your stack, which also indicates to the dealer that you are intending to double down.
Doubling Down is a very useful strategy in Blackjack and can boost your profitability when it is used at the right time. That doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed to win every time you double down, but you will likely win much more often than adopting an ad-hoc approach to using this strategy.