When to Double Down

When to Double Down

When to Double Down

Double down is one of the most thrilling moves in blackjack. It allows you to double your bet in the middle of a hand in exchange for one extra card. It’s a risky move, as it usually ends your betting –  if you receive a particularly low second card you can’t hit again.


This leads to more timid players to avoid the double bet and playing it safe, while more adventurous players take the risk far more often. It’s important to know when to take the risk to maximise your potential winnings.


When to double down?

Now let’s get back to the main point, which is when to double down. Fortunately, basic strategies for blackjack have been meticulously mapped using mathematical probability, designed to tell you exactly when is the best to double down. There are three situations when it’s best to double down, explained below.


In all of these situations you can’t go bust and are in the most likely position to finish with a high hand, while statistics indicate that the dealer is in the most likely position to lose the hand.


Soft 16 to 18 Against the Dealer’s Low Cards

If you have an Ace and either 5, 6 or 7 giving you a “soft” total of 16 to 18 and the dealer shows a card from 2 to 6, this is a great time to double your bet. With an Ace and a lower card (2 to 4) it is better to just hit, as you are less likely to end with a high hand.


Hard 10 or 11 Against Any Lower Dealer Card

A hard 10 or 11 puts you in a powerful position – that is, with any two cards, not including an Ace, that make 10 or 11 (2-8, 2-9, 3-7, 3-8, 4-6, 4-7, 5-6). If the dealer has a lower total, it’s time to double down.


Hard 9 Against the Dealer’s Low Cards

When you are dealt a total of 9, do it when the dealer shows a card between 2 and 6 (any card below 7 excluding the Ace). This must be a hard 9, meaning there is no Ace in your hand. So the combinations could be 2-7, 3-6 or 4-5. If you have A-8, which is a soft 9, it’s best to stand, regardless of what the dealer shows.


Can You Double Down after Hitting?

A player cannot hit and then choose to it, the double down option occurs only after the initial two cards are dealt and at that moment the player decides whether to go for the it or not. The opportunity to double down is limited to this point in a hand.


Can You Split and Double Down?

It is important the player understands the optimal situations to split and double down. The player can split their cards if they are dealt a matching pair. For example two fives or two tens.


The player must cover the second hand with the bet size of their first bet and the dealer deals a second card to complete both hands. A further double down is not usually permitted. Always check the casino rules whether playing live or online as there are often incentives hidden within the rules designed to encourage players to play.


Should You Always Double Down on 11?

As the player and dealer aim to get as close to 21 as possible in order to win the hand, the player is in a strong position when holding 11 after two cards are dealt. If the dealer is showing a lower card than 10, it is a good strategy to double down. 


If the casino rules dictate the dealer must hit a soft 17, you should always double down on 11 no matter what the dealer’s up card.


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