Doubling down is one of the betting options in blackjack that can be quite profitable for those who know how to play it. It is a move you can make while you’re still receiving cards, and after that, you can only draw one card. And, while you have a chance to win more, there is also an option to lose twice as much if that last card doesn’t work in your favor. That is why knowing when to double down is vital to your play.
In other words, you should be able to discern the amount of risk and determine whether a game is worth your time and money. It all depends on the hand you’ve drawn. So, let’s see when doubling down is a good move, and when you should avoid it.
Good Opportunities to Double Down
Every experienced blackjack player would advise you to double down in three specific situations. First, when your hand total is 11 and the dealer’s upcard is low (2 through 6). At this point, your chances to hit 21 are pretty high, and even if you don’t make it, you will surely get close to it. Moreover, the dealer must draw until 17, and they risk going over the total.
The second situation is when you have a hand with an ace and another card, making it a soft 16, 17, or 18. Of course, you should double if the upcard of the dealer is of low value. It might seem to you like standing on a soft 18 is a good idea, but you should count on the possibility of improving your hand.
The third type of circumstance in which doubling down can be beneficial is when you have a hand total of either a so-called hard 9 or 10. Again, the dealer’s card will have to be of small value. You will have a chance to receive a high card, which will give you an advantage over the dealer.
Still, you should know that even in those positions things might not go your way when you decide to make your move. There are tactics at play that require a bit of experience and can be combined with other strategies, such as card counting.
What to Look for When Doubling Down
First and foremost, you should know the rules of the casino has about doubling down. Some casinos might not allow it under certain circumstances. Many gambling establishments will permit it only when your cards total is either 10 or 11. In case you have cards of other value, you will have the option to hit, stand, or surrender, and to split if it happens that you receive two matching cards.
The second thing to take into consideration is the value on which the dealer will stand — that is what affects their chances of going over 21. Usually, the dealer will have to stand at 17. However, in some games, the limit will be 16, which makes them less likely to surpass 21. When the odds for this are higher, you should consider doubling your blackjack bet. Still, be aware that your hand can go over 21, as well. If that happens, you will lose twice as much.
Another important thing to know is whether the dealer peeks at their downcard when their upcard is a 10 or an Ace. If they check and the game goes on, then they do not hold a blackjack. If they do have blackjack, everyone will lose.
Doubling Down on 11
When your first two cards have a total of 11, you have two ways to go — double down or hit. Which one should you choose depends on the number of decks and whether you play blackjack with a dealer standing on a soft 17 or hard 17.
For instance, in a game with one deck, doubling down on 11 is a smart thing to do whatever the dealer’s upcard is. Players will usually hesitate to do so against an Ace. Nonetheless, the wins will be rare when you play a single-deck game with a hard 17, but also bigger. Still, you should focus on how much money you will have at the end of a session.
Games With Multiple Decks and a Soft 17
When you play a game with more than one deck and a soft 17, it is recommendable to double down when the dealer holds a 10 or lower. If the dealer’s upcard is an Ace, hitting is a better choice. You should also know that in a two-deck game with a soft 17, your loss will be slightly smaller if you hit against an Ace than if you double.
When it is specified in the game rules that the dealer has to hit a 17, you should double down on 11 against any of their cards, including the Ace. The statistics show that if the dealer must hit a soft 17, they are 3.4% more likely to bust than to end up with a total of 21 or lower, which makes it more profitable to double instead of hitting.
11 as Total for Multiple Cards
It might happen that you get 11 as a total for the hand that incorporates three or more cards. Let’s say you draw a 2 and a 3 in the initial hand and get a 6 after you hit. When you receive that third card, you will not have the option of doubling, so the only choice you will have is to hit again. Also, some games don’t allow doubling down on 11, so have that in mind when working on your blackjack strategy.
Finally, should you double down on 11 when the dealer holds 10? There are situations when this move will be rewarding, so — yes. However, you should account for all of the game elements.
As mentioned earlier, when the dealer’s upcard is a 10 or an Ace, they will need to check their downcard. That is what determines the course of the game. If they’ve drawn the blackjack, the game will be over, and all of the players will lose. If that is not the case, you will continue playing, and there is your chance to double down. You should do so because there is a great probability that the dealer holds a low-value downcard, which gives your 11 an advantage. Nonetheless, luck will still have to stand by your side to land that blackjack.