When to Double Down in Blackjack
Doubling down in blackjack is like a “Hail Mary”: you put everything into just one more card and hope for the best. It’s profitable but risky… if you don’t know how to use it. In this article, we will give you a few ideas of double down in blackjack, as well as some examples of when you should or shouldn’t double down. Turns out, doubling down in blackjack is perfectly balanced, “as all things should be.”
What Is Double Down
Double down in blackjack is the act of drawing just one more card in the middle of a hand and double your bet. The result is either you have double your wagered chips or lose twice that much. So, what are the odds of winning vs. losing? Let’s do a little math.
Take an ordinary deck, for example. There are 52 cards in the deck, with:
- 10s or higher: 16 cards
- 2s to 9s: 4 cards each set
- Aces: 4 cards
Generally, the odds of drawing different points are:
- Ten: 16/52 = 30.77%
- Nine or lower: 36/52 = 69.23%
- Eight or lower: 32/52 = 61.54%
- Seven or lower: 28/52 = 53.85%
- Six or lower: 24/52 = 46.15%
- Five or lower: 20/52 = 38.46%
- Four or lower: 16/52 = 30.77%
- Three or lower: 12/52 = 23.08%
- Two or lower: 8/52 = 15.38%
- One: 4/52 = 7.69%
In reality, the odds are a bit different since you must offset the cards from your hand and your dealer’s, but the less point you want to draw, the less likely it will happen. Imagine doubling down with 16? Your chance of losing is more than 60%!
When to Double Down
When to double down depends on each person’s preference, but the general rule is to take the chance when you see the best odds. For instance:
When your hand has 11 points: This means you are very likely to get 21, and busting out is impossible. Your chances of winning are almost certain.
When you have a soft 16, 17, or 18: A soft hand is a hand with an Ace. In this situation, you can either stop and stick to your cards, or continue hitting. However, it is best to double down when the dealer shows a lower card. There’s a great chance of improving your hand with just one card.
When you have a hard 9 or 10: A hard hand is a hand without an Ace. In this situation, you should always draw more, especially if your dealer’s hand is weak.
All the three previous examples have one thing in common: Your hand is safe, and you cannot bust while doubling down. So, the general rule of thumb is, take the chance when you have higher odds of winning than losing.
When Not to Double Down
Obviously, you should not double down when you have a bad hand or the dealer shows a potentially strong hand. So what are the cases?
When the dealer has an Ace: The chances of them getting a blackjack are very high. Of course, they will check their hand, and the game only continues if they don't have blackjack. However, with an Ace, the possibility that they have a total of close to 21 is still too great. Do not double down now, but make a judgment based on your hand instead.
When your hand is higher than 11: Your chance of busting out is too great. Even if you have a soft hand, unless your other card is higher than 5, do not go for a Hail Mary play. You will have a higher risk of losing chips than winning.
Generally, if you are unsure of whether to double down or not, stick to the safe option and avoid the risky play. Players who continue to play recklessly are doomed to fail, and you don’t want to be part of their group.
FAQs About Double Down
Misunderstandings are inevitable in blackjack, especially when you are in a risky move like doubling down. So, here are a few frequently asked questions when using double down:
Can You Double Down After Splitting?
Often this is not possible. However, some online casinos still allow players to split. Either way, you should follow what we have shown above.
Can You Double Down After Hitting?
This is almost impossible. Once you have hit, you can only hit again, not split or get insurance.
How Many Cards Do You Get When You Double Down in Blackjack?
This is a common mistake among new players. When you double down, you can only draw one more card, and that's why we call it "Hail Mary.” If you can continue to hit more after doubling down, you are having too much of an edge over the dealer.
Can You Double Down on 21 in Blackjack?
Of course not. Once you get 21, that's the end game, and the round is over. You will receive the money immediately and nothing else can be done after that.