What is Blackjack Double Down?

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Published by Julia Attard on October 15, 2020 in Casino Tips

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Let's have a look at Blackjack Double Down

Most casino players know what blackjack is. We know that it is a card game played with one or more decks that comprise a total of 52 cards each. The picture cards, namely the Jack, Queen, and King, are all valued at 10. The Ace cards can either be valued at one or eleven. All the other cards in the deck are face value cards. In other words, a 2 of hearts has a value of 2. A seven of clubs has a value of 7.

The aim of the game is to get as close to 21 as possible without going over 21.

When players, or the dealer, go over 21 it is referred to as a ‘bust’ and they lose. Specifically, the object is to get closer to 21 than the dealer. It all seems pretty simple but there are loads of intricacies to blackjack that people don’t consider when playing. A better understanding of these aspects can greatly decrease the house edge and increase your chances of winning. If you want to read more about this game, check our complete online Blackjack guide.

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Rundown of Blackjack Basics

When the game begins, the players and dealer receive two cards each. All the players at the blackjack table will receive their cards face up. However, only one of the dealer’s cards will be face up. This results in the players having some decisions to make, and if they’re smart – some probabilities to consider.

The moment that players’ first cards land on the table, they no longer have the option to change their bets. However, if players decide to ‘double down’ after their first two cards are dealt they can so by increasing their bet. A double down is an optional bet of an equal or lesser amount than the original bet.

It can be placed after the first two cards have been dealt. Players who double down in Blackjack do so because they have confidence that their hand will beat the dealer’s hand.

Blackjack players make their projections based on the hand they have and the value of the dealer’s card that is facing up. There are several plays they can make based on their expectations: Stay, Hit, Surrender, Split, or Double Down.


Stay

Staying is the most basic move in Blackjack. It means that a player does not want another card and ends their turn. If the dealer does not get a higher total value than the player, the player wins. Players usually stay when their first two cards add up to 17 or more.


Hit

Blackjack players usually hit if their first two cards add up to a total value that ranges between 2 and 16. They do this because the dealer usually stands on 17 (they stop on 16 in the European Casinos), depending on which version of Blackjack they are playing. Players want a total value that is higher than the dealer’s.

They may continue hitting until they reach their desired value, or until they bust by going over 21.


Surrender

After the first two cards are dealt, players can choose to surrender. When they surrender, they effectively quit their hand. However, instead of losing their entire bet, they only lose half of it.  Players do this when they are pretty certain that they are going to lose the game, so that they minimize their losses.


Split

If a player is dealt two cards that have the same face value, then they have the option to split. Players who decide to split must place an additional bet that is equal to the value of the original bet. The cards are then split into two separate hands. This means that the player is actually playing two hands of blackjack on one round. Each hand can be played independently but players can only play one hand at a time.


Double Down

Players can only double down once their first two cards have been dealt. They have one chance to assess the blackjack table and make a decision. To double down means that a player is increasing the value of the bet after the original bet has been placed. Unlike splitting, players do not need to increase the bet by the same value as the first bet. They can add to their original bet by a value that is equal to, or less than, the original bet. 

To give a few examples of a double down bet: if a player made a bet of 10 and then decides to double down, the player can add to the original bet by a value of 10 or less. The total value of the player’s bet after doubling down cannot exceed 20 in this instance.

Similarly, a player that made an original bet of 50 may double down by increasing the bet by a value of 50 or less. The total value of the double downed bet cannot exceed 100 in this example.

There are risks involved with doubling down. The first is that if players lose they will lose more money than they originally bargained for. The second risk is that after doubling down, players will only receive one additional card.

They cannot continue ‘hitting’ for more cards. So why would someone double down with these risks involved? They do this because the card that the live casino dealer has showing ‘face up’ is considered weak compared to their hand.


Determining a Strong Hand

There are certain hands in Blackjack that always call for a double down. This is because the probability is usually in favor of the player’s hand.  There are Blackjack experts that have run probabilities through sophisticated computer software programs to return these outcomes.

Before going further, we need to explain the difference between a hard hand and a soft hand. A hard hand is when a player does not have any Ace cards in their hand. A soft hand is when one of the first two cards that a player was dealt is an Ace. Regardless of which variant of blackjack is being played, players should always double down in the following instances:

  • Player has hard 9 and dealer’s face up card is a 3, 4, 5 or 6;
  • Player has hard 10 – except when the dealer has a 10 or Ace;
  • Player has hard 11 – except when the dealer has an Ace;
  • Player has soft 13 or 14 and dealer has a 5 or 6;
  • Player has soft 15 or 16 and dealer has a 4, 5 or 6;
  • Player has soft 17 or 18 and dealer has a 3, 4, 5 or 6.


For people that prefer a visual representation, we have summarized the rules above in the tables below. In the tables, the total value of the players hand is listed in the left side column, while the dealers ‘face up’ card is listed in the horizontal row on the top. Cross reference them to find a spot on the table that confirms whether or not you should double down. Double down is denoted by the ‘D’ symbol. The first table is for hard hands and the second table is for soft hands.

Hard Hand Total

Dealer’s Face Up Card

 

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

A

9

 

D

D

D

D

     

10

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

  

11

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

 

 

Dealer’s Face Up Card

Soft Hand Total

 

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

A

13(A,2)

   

D

D

     

14(A,3)

   

D

D

     

15(A,4)

  

D

D

D

     

16(A,5)

  

D

D

D

     

17(A,6)

 

D

D

D

D

     

18(A,7)

D

D

D

D

D

     

19(A,8)

    

D

     

 

The tables above can be used by any blackjack players wanting to maximize their profits using probabilities. However, they are both based on the blackjack version where the dealer stands on soft 17. This version is commonly referred to as the S17 game. This is the most popular version of blackjack, and the rules work for most versions.

The other version is called H17 blackjack, and the difference is that the dealers will always hit when they have a soft 17 hand. If you are playing H17 blackjack then there are a few extra strategies to keep in mind. In addition to the plays in the tables above, players should always double down when:

  • Player has hard 11 and the dealer has an Ace;
  • Player has soft 18 and dealer has a 2;
  • Player has soft 19 and dealer has a 6.

Here are the tables that represent the additional double down strategies listed above:

Hard Hand Total

Dealer’s Face Up Card

 

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

A

9

 

D

D

D

D

     

10

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

  

11

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

 

 

 

Dealer’s Face Up Card

Soft Hand Total

 

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

A

13(A,2)

   

D

D

     

14(A,3)

   

D

D

     

15(A,4)

  

D

D

D

     

16(A,5)

  

D

D

D

     

17(A,6)

 

D

D

D

D

     

18(A,7)

 

D

D

D

D

     


Double Down Take Away

It’s easy to see why so many people are captivated by the game of blackjack. Players who are aware of the intricacies and probabilities of the game can easily become absorbed in the strategy involved. The double down strategy that we covered is only the tip of the ice berg. There are strategies for all the plays that can be made once the first two cards are dealt – and beyond.

Additionally, the double down charts above pertain to blackjack games that incorporate 4 to 8 decks. There are the best casinos that will offer alternative decks, although this is not the norm. Players should always confirm the rules of a particular blackjack table with the casino or online casino they are playing at. Casinos do have discretion to modify the rules as they see fit.

What is a Blackjack Double Down?

Players can only double down once their first two cards have been dealt. They have one chance to assess the blackjack table and make a decision. To double down means that a player is increasing the value of the bet after the original bet has been placed. Unlike splitting, players do not need to increase the bet by the same value as the first bet. They can add to their original bet by a value that is equal to, or less than, the original bet.

Shall I use Double Down in Blackjack?

Yes, if you are feeling confident enough and you think your next cards will be good.

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