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Blackjack Double Down: When & How to Do It

Blackjack Double Down

The blackjack double down is a move that could be quite profitable if you know how to do it right. It’s one of the available moves in the game that anyone who wants to improve their blackjack skills must master.

If you want to know when to double down in blackjack and when you shouldn’t, then keep reading to learn everything you need to know. You’ll find the blackjack double down explained so you can understand how it works and try it out for yourself if you wish to play blackjack at our online casino UK.

What Is Doubling Down in Blackjack?

So, what does double down mean in blackjack? This move means doubling your initial bet once the first two cards have been dealt. In other words, it allows you to increase your bet in the middle of playing your hand.

When you double down, you not only double your initial bet, but you also receive a third card. The same blackjack double down rules apply to both regular blackjack in a brick-and-mortar casino and online blackjack, too.

Unlike hitting, which refers to taking an additional card, when you take another card because you doubled down, you won’t be able to receive any more cards. When you hit, there’s no limit to how many additional cards you can get from the dealer unless you bust, of course.

Doubling down is considered a rather risky move in blackjack because you’re essentially taking the risk of losing twice as much money. If you’re dealt a low card, you won’t be able to hit again and increase the value of your hand. And if you bust, then you lose your initial wager and your double down bet too.

When Should You Double Down in Blackjack?

Because doubling down can be risky, the key to improving your game isn’t blackjack card counting or basic strategy alone (although it’s part of it), it’s knowing when to make certain moves in the game. With practice, you’ll also learn the right balance between taking a calculated risk because the payoff could be worth taking that risk or playing it safe because the chances of busting are too high.

When should you double down in blackjack, then? There are three cases where it’s always recommended to go with the blackjack double down strategy. The next time you’re faced with the following card combination at the live casino, keep the following tips in mind but always consider the dealer’s face up card, too.

Total of your cards is 11

The most common hand you should double down in blackjack is a total of 11. If you have two cards totaling 11, you have a good chance of getting 21 if you’re dealt a 10-value card, so you should double down to capitalize on that potential. Even if you don’t get a 10, you’ll still get closer to 21 by taking an additional card, and it’s impossible to bust with this hand.

When you have soft 16, 17 or 18

There are two types of hands in blackjack: soft hands and hard hands. A soft hand is made up of an Ace and any other card, while a hard hand doesn’t have an Ace in it. As you might know, the Ace can have a value of one or 11, depending on what works best for your hand. This means that a soft hand has a flexible value while a hard hand has a fixed value.

A soft 16, for example, is made up of a five and an Ace which counts as an 11, meaning you have room to take an additional card without busting. If you receive a high card when you double, that would cause you to go over 21, but if the Ace counts as a one, you’ll still be in the game.

It’s generally recommended to double down on a soft 16, 17, or 18, but the key is to look at the dealer’s face up card first. You should consider doubling if they have a low card (between two and six). With a hand value of 18, it’s tempting to stand because it’s a relatively strong hand, especially since the dealer must stand on 17. Still, if the dealer’s card is low, you can improve your hand further if you double on a soft 18 and get another card.

With a hard 9 or 10

Another classic example of blackjack when to double down is when you have a hard nine or 10. As explained above, a hard hand has a fixed value, which means there isn’t much room to take risks, but when you’re at a nine or 10, it’s impossible to bust when taking another card, which is why you should always hit.

Blackjack double down is also recommended in this case, but only if the dealer has a low card. This is probably the riskiest of the scenarios mentioned so far because if you get a low card, you won’t improve your hand significantly, and the chances of winning the blackjack double down payout will decrease.

However, if the dealer is showing a low card, you have a good chance of getting a higher value than the dealer’s and winning the hand.

Ultimately, please remember that although it’s recommended to double in these three cases, it won’t always be a successful move. Although it’s a calculated risk with a good chance of success, it’s still a risk.

When Not to Double Down?

There are some situations where it’s obvious that you shouldn’t double down, and with some practice, you’ll be able to tell when it might be worth taking the risk or not. Other scenarios might not be so straightforward, especially for new or inexperienced players.

There are two important scenarios where doubling down is never recommended. Before we examine these, we suggest memorizing when to double your original bet and when not to so you’ll be able to make quick decisions if you’re playing a fast-paced game like live blackjack.

If the Dealer is Showing an Ace

If the dealer is showing an Ace, it means there’s a good chance for the dealer to get a blackjack, which makes doubling down an obviously bad choice. No matter what cards you hold, you should never double down if the dealer shows an Ace.

Although an Ace isn’t a guarantee that the dealer will get a blackjack, the chances are they’ll still get closer to 21 than you, so there’s a good chance of losing that hand anyway.

If You Have a Hand Higher Than 11

If your hand has a value anywhere from three to 11, you’ll always be safe to take another card because you can’t bust. With a hand of 11, the highest value you can get is 21 if you get a 10-value card. If you get an Ace, you’ll get a total of 12. For this reason, it’s recommended to double down, especially if the dealer has a low card.

Doubling down on a hand higher than 11, however, is never recommended according to blackjack strategy. The chances of busting are too high to risk twice your original bet, but you can consider hitting and taking another card. In this case, we recommend consulting basic blackjack strategy and following it depending on the dealer’s card.

If you ask, ‘When do you double down in blackjack?’, you can keep these few specific scenarios in mind for your next game to help you decide. However, we must also stress that avoiding taking a risk you’re uncomfortable with is important. If you’re uncertain, it’s better to stand or perhaps hit, which won’t increase your initial wager and is, therefore, less risky than doubling.

When you’re uncertain or hesitating, it’s perfectly fine to play it safe, stick to your hand, and simply hope for the best. A common mistake we see many inexperienced players making is to double down on most of their hands, causing them to lose their funds very quickly.

To help you memorize the double down strategy much easier, we’ve summarized the points mentioned above in the following table:

Blackjack Hand Double
11 Yes
Soft 16, 17, and 18 Yes
Hard 9 or 10 Yes
Dealer's Ace No
Higher than 11 No

How to Double Down in Blackjack?

When you’re playing online casino games, making any move in a blackjack game is simple because a different button represents each action. For example, the double down button in online blackjack will appear as soon as the initial cards are dealt. If you want to take the option, you only need to click it, and another card will be automatically drawn.

If you’re playing in a land-based casino, it’s good to know the signal for what is double down in blackjack. All you need to do is place a stack of chips next to your original wager chips. The new stack must be equal to the original stack, and it will indicate to the dealer that you want to double your bet. Sometimes, you may want to actually indicate your intention to make this move by telling the dealer you want to double down.

It should also be noted that when you’re placing the new stack of chips to double down, these chips should be placed beside the original bet, not on top of it. This is frowned upon because it may look like you’re trying to interfere with your initial bet.

Blackjack Rules

We’ve explained when you should double down, when you shouldn’t, and how to do it, but when can you double down in blackjack? Like any other move in blackjack, there are specific rules for when doubling is allowed. For example, can you double down on 21 in blackjack?

It’s important to pay attention to the rules of doubling and study the rules of blackjack because they’re not always the same. So, if you have a specific strategy in mind that you plan to use at online casinos, you’ll first need to check the game rules to learn which hands you can double on.

The option to double down will be available when your hands total 10 or 11 in most blackjack games. Remember, when you double instead of hit, you must stand once you receive your third card. Doubling might also be allowed after splitting, but these rules vary, so we stress the importance of reading the game rules before you place your chips.

You should also familiarize yourself with the general blackjack rules, especially the dealer’s rules for hitting and standing. Most blackjack games require the dealer to keep hitting until they reach a soft 17. This is important because it impacts your chances of beating the dealer and how likely they are to bust.

If the dealer can stand on 16, they’re less likely to bust and can easily beat you if you have a low hand. If they need to hit until they reach 17, it’s much more likely that they’ll get a high card and go over 21. These are all important rules you should be aware of to decide whether you should double.

Blackjack Double Down Tips

After reading this guide, you should have a solid understanding of what is doubling down in blackjack, and you might even be ready to try putting it into practice at online casinos like Britain Play. Before you do that, however, we’ve prepared a few expert blackjack tips and facts to help you sharpen your blackjack skills.

  1. Splitting vs Doubling Down: First, let’s talk a little bit about splitting. This move is similar to doubling, but there is a significant difference you should understand to ensure you’re making the right move in the game. Splitting is offered when you have a pair; if you take it, your cards will be divided into two hands. Each hand receives another card, and the hands are played separately. Like doubling, you’ll also be required to place a bet equal to your original wager, but you play two hands instead of one.

  2. Doubling After Hitting Isn’t Possible: The only time you’ll be offered the option to double is after the initial cards are dealt. If you’re going to double, it must be your first move after the initial deal because the option won’t be offered if you make another move, such as hitting. If you hit, your only option is to hit again or stand. Splitting after hitting isn’t commonly allowed, but a few variants and casinos may allow it.

  3. You Can’t Double on 21 in Blackjack: It might seem obvious, but for those new to blackjack, it’s good to mention that you can’t double down on 21. If this were allowed, players could practically eliminate the house edge in this case, and everyone would do it when they’re dealt this hand because it’s an obvious winner!

FAQs About Blackjack Double Down

  1. Should You Always Double Down on 11?: In most cases, yes, doubling down on a hand of 11 because, in most cases, it could be a profitable move to do so. It’s impossible to bust when you receive a third card, and if you beat the dealer, you win twice as much. Compared to any blackjack hand, a total of 11 is the best scenario to double down on.

  2. Do You Double Down on 11 or 12 in Blackjack?: Doubling down on 11 is always recommended, especially if the dealer has a low card (up to six). However, this doesn’t apply to a hand of 12 because the possibility of busting is now present. Generally, you should never double down on anything from 12 or higher.

  3. How Do You Win Double Down Blackjack?: To win when you double down, you first need to avoid busting when receiving your third card, then beat the dealer with a higher hand than theirs. It’s the same as winning when you hit, except that your bet size is doubled, which means there’s twice as much at stake.

  4. What is the Difference Between Split and Double Down?: In short, splitting refers to splitting your cards to play them as two separate hands. A card is added to each hand, and your bet is also doubled. When you double, your bet is also doubled, but you only receive one extra card and play your hand as one. Another difference is that when you double, your hand is final once the third card is dealt, whereas in most cases, you can hit after splitting.

  5. Why Double Down Instead of Double Up?: Doubling down is simply the term officially used in blackjack and how you’ll find the move referred to at any online casino.

  6. Why Double 11 Against a 10?: According to basic blackjack strategy, you should always double down if the dealer has a 10-value card and your cards total 11. Although it’s a risky move due to the chance of the dealer getting a blackjack, you also have an opportunity to improve your hand if you get a 10-card and get a higher total than the dealer.