The Basics of Doubling Down

The process and rationale for splitting pairs in blackjack is fairly clear. That isn’t the case with doubling down. In this article, we’ll explain what the process of doubling down entails and the mechanics of doing it at a live or online blackjack table. In subsequent articles, we’ll discuss strategy for the optimal situations to employ the double down tactic.

WHAT IS ‘DOUBLING DOWN’?

‘Doubling down’ in blackjack is a tactic the player can employ after he’s been dealt his first two cards. Instead of hitting, the player doubles his initial bet by placing an equal amount on the table. The dealer gives the player a single card and that card will finish his hand. In other words, he can’t hit any more after he doubles down.

The rationale for a double down is that it allows the player to increase his bet in a favorable situation. For example, if the player is dealt a 5 and a 6 in his opening hand (11) and the dealer is showing a weak up card like a 5. The appeal of doubling down on this hand should be obvious–the player can’t bust and the dealer is very likely to go over.

The specific statistical edge in every double down situation depends greatly on the rules at an individual casino as well as the dealer’s up card but in some cases it can nearly double your ‘expected value’.

LIMITATIONS ON DOUBLING DOWN

The specific rules for when a player can double down vary widely from one casino to another. The most player favorable games will allow doubling down on any first two cards. If you have the option, you’re best served finding a casino that allows this tactic. Not only does it give you more strategic options during your game it’s usually a sign that the casino will offer other ‘player friendly’ rules at blackjack and other casino games.

Some casinos limit the hands where a player is allowed to double down. The most restrictive limit doubling down to 10 or 11 with no doubling of ‘soft hands’ (a hand including an Ace). Other casinos don’t have the prohibition against playing ‘soft hands’ but will limit doubles to 10 or 11. Some casinos allow doubling on 9, 10 or 11.

Doubling down is an extremely valuable move for a blackjack player. It can initially be uncomfortable to double your bet without the ability to ‘hit’ again if your single card is a weak one. Just remember that even though it might not ‘feel’ right that it is statistically the correct move to make to enhance your long term profits.