Blackjack Strategy: Doubling Down

Well, yesterday I completed a long series on splitting pairs and because I’m a glutton for punishment, I decided to start another long series. Being a good blackjack player requires knowing and understanding blackjack basic strategy. For some, simply memorizing the basic strategy chart is enough. Other players, however, need to know why you should make certain decisions. I know for me it is a lot easier to know what to do in a pressure-packed situation like playing at a blackjack table if I know the reasoning behind each decision. For that reason, I am starting a new series that will go deep inside the strategy for doubling down.

Many blackjack novices won’t double down in any situation, either because they can’t remember when to do it, or because they are timid about putting extra money on a bet. However, doubling is one of the things that brings the house edge down to as low as 0.5% when playing perfect basic strategy. Putting twice as much money on the right hands helps you make up for money you lose on other hands. Doubling and splitting are a part of basic strategy for a reason. If you don’t do either, the house edge is increased to 5.48%, which is higher than roulette.

To signal that you want to double down, place a second bet equal to your first bet beside that first bet inside the betting circle. If you’re playing online blackjack, there should be a “double down” button to press.

But when do you double down? That is what I will cover in this series, but in short, you do it when you think that the dealer has a bad hand and by only drawing one more card you will beat the dealer. Remember that if you double down, you only get one more card.

Traditionally, you can only double after being dealt your first two cards, but some blackjack variations allow doubling later in the hand. Rules allowing you to double later are beneficial to the player. Often you are not allowed to double after splitting, though some casinos allow this. Again, if that is allowed the rule is beneficial to the player. Keep in mind, though, that you must double your original wager in order to split, so if you then double after that you are doubling twice (or three times, if you double both hands).

Some casinos will only allow you to double on hard hands, though others will allow doubling on soft hands as well. Sometimes blackjack tables will have “Reno” rules, which means that you can only double down when you have a two-card total of 10 or 11. Since different tables, including at online casinos, have different rules for doubling, you should learn the rules for that table before you begin playing.

Whatever the rules, doubling at the appropriate times is an important part of basic strategy and it helps you make as much money as possible. It is for that reason that I am taking on the long and laborious task of delving deep into every doubling situation. Stay tuned for the first part in this series.

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