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Doubling Down in Blackjack

S. Stoynova (editor) |

Doubling Down as Key Blackjack Move for Strategic Play

Doubling Down in BlackjackThe reason for blackjack’s popularity among numerous casino players is the chance to influence the game using the correct strategy. Often offering an extremely low house edge, blackjack requires making the optimal move on every hand to actually reduce the casino’s advantage to the lowest possible rate. Implementing a blackjack strategy requires good knowledge of all basic moves and the correct hands on which you should use each one of them.

Depending on whether you stand, hit, split, or double down, you can completely shift the way each betting round will end. Doubling down is one of the basic moves in blackjack, often rewarding boosted returns to those who use the option correctly. While you can use basic blackjack strategy to learn when it is advisable to double down, we suggest you start with our Doubling Down in Blackjack article. It will provide detailed information on this basic blackjack move and the correct way to make it.


OverviewDoubling down is one of the most exciting moves that you can make during the game. Thanks to it, you are able to double your original wager, giving you the opportunity to win more money when you are holding a better hand that the dealer. In order to indicate this move, you must put the extra bet next to your initial wager, outside the designated betting area and point the amount with one finger. After you are dealt your first two cards, you receive one more card. The amount of the additional bet that can be placed differs from one casino to another.

Some games allow half of the amount of the initial bet to be placed, whereas others require the full amount to be put. Even though the amount, that needs to be placed, is not fixed, it should be noted that this wager cannot exceed the original bet under any circumstances. The rules regarding this move can vary, depending on the casino and the particular version of the game. Some casinos allow doubling down on any two cards, while others have certain restrictions when it comes to this matter. Thus, it is essential to double-check the rules in advance in order to be prepared for all of the possible situations that might occur.

Doubling Down for Less

Doubling Down for LessSome casinos allow patrons to double down for less than their original wagers. Even though it may sound like a good idea as it decreases the risk of losing a lot of money, you will never see a basic strategy blackjack player who rises to this bait. After all, by doubling down you want to maximize your potential winnings.

Let us assume that you are dealt hard 11. If you are familiar with the basic strategy, you should know that the most optimal move in this situation is to double down provided that the dealer’s up card is a ten. Your original wager is $50, but the casino allows you to double down for less than your original bet. Regardless of which approach you will go for, if you double down, you will receive only one more card to your hand. From a mathematical perspective, you are expected to win 54% of the time. So, if you decide to double down, you will have a total of $100 in action. In other words, you will have 54 wins over 100 hands at $100, which equals $5,400. On the other hand, 46% of the time you will lose. A simple calculation shows that you will lose a total of 46 x 100 = $4,600 and you will have net profits of $800.

But if you decide to double down for less and bet $20 more, then you will have a total of $70 in action. The win ratio does not change, meaning that 54% of the time you will win. This means that you will win a total of 54 x 70 = $3,780. On the other hand, you will lose 46 x $70 = $3,220, leaving you with net profits of $560.

If you have a hard 11, another optimal move is to hit. In that case, your winning chances are even slightly higher, more precisely 56%. So, if your bet is $50, you can potentially win 56 x 50 = $2,800, while your losses may amount to 44 x 50 = $2,200. This will result in net winnings of $600 ($2,800 – $2,200). Since you are choosing to hit rather than doubling down, you can potentially land a bigger win without increasing your stake. However, if you double down for the full amount of your wager, you will win more money in the long haul.

When to Double Down

When to Double DownDoubling down can be a very beneficial move, however only on the condition that you know when it is appropriate to use it. While it is true that whether a particular hand will win or lose cannot be predicted, it is possible to influence the outcome to a huge extent by applying a basic strategy. This playing system contains valuable information about the situations in which it is best to perform a particular move, including doubling down.

You should decide whether to double down by taking into account the up card of the dealer and the total of your hand. Usually, it is advisable to make this move if the dealer is currently in a visibly unfavorable position.. When he has low-valued cards, you stand a very good chance of winning and thus, it is essential to get the most out of such situations. For example, if you have a soft 13 through 18 in your hand and the up card of the dealer is 3, 4, 5, or 6, it is best to double down. If doubling down is not allowed, the basic strategy advises players to hit on soft 13 through 17. However, if you have a soft 18, it is better to stand as the chance to bust is big.

Other situations in which doubling down is an optimal move include:
  • Hard 9 against 3 through 6
  • Hard 10 and 11 against low-valued cards

It is essential to get familiar with all of the cases in which it is best to double down as in this way, you will be able to win enough money to compensate for the times when you lose.

Strategy for doubling down in Blackjack
Player’s TotalThe up card of the dealer

Doubling Down a Pair of 5s

Down a Pair of 5’Usually, when players get a pair of two cards of the same rank, they decide to split them in order to form two new hands, increasing their chances of winning. In most cases, it is a good idea to do so. However, there are several exceptions that should be considered. One of them is when you get a pair of 5s and the up card of the dealer is from two through nine as then you should double down instead of splitting.

Even though two 5s form a very decent total, if they are separated, they won’t make two strong hands. In fact, if you split such a pair, you will have exactly the opposite effect as you will end up with two hands whose chances of winning are fairly low. This is the reason why you should double down instead as the dealer is placed in a weak position and the odds are in your favor. It is really important to make the most of such beneficial situations as they offer valuable opportunities which shouldn’t be missed.

Rule Variations of Doubling Down

Rule Variations of Doubling DownAs already mentioned, doubling down rules strictly depend on the particular version of the game and the casino. Every change of the rules, even a seemingly insignificant one, actually has a huge impact on the house edge. Thus, you should always take your time to consider when you are allowed to double down and when this move is forbidden as it determines to some extent your chances of making a decent profit.

For instance, if doubling down is allowed after splitting, the house edge is reduced approximately by 0.13%. If you are permitted to double down only on 10s and 11s, providing that the game is played with six decks, this works in favor of the casino as it increases the house edge by 0.61%. Let’s consider the same situation but instead of six decks, let’s assume that the game is played with two packs of cards – the house edge increases by approximately 0.26%.

In case that you are allowed to double down whenever you wish, this rule works in your favor as it decreases their house edge by 0.62%.


ConclusionBlackjack is a casino game which requires both skills and luck and thus, the final outcome of every hand can be influenced significantly. By applying a reliable strategy, you can drastically increase your chances of winning. However, strategic play never guarantees a one hundred percent success rate. While doubling down can boost your potential win, it is often a move performed by more adventurous players who like to increase their level of excitement and adrenaline.