Blackjack basic strategy seems like a lot to remember at first, but it really isn’t that bad because there are reasons behind every decision. Not only that, if you look at the chart, there are a lot of parts that can be grouped together – strategy that is the same for different hands. Such is the case with doubling soft hands. The strategy for soft 13 is the same as for a soft 14. Likewise, doubling strategy for a soft 15 is the same as for a soft 16, which is what I am covering now.
If you have a soft 16 (ace, five), you want to double down if the dealer shows a four, five or six. If the dealer shows anything else as an up card, you should take a hit. There is no reason to stand with a soft 16 because it’s not a good hand and there is no risk of busting.
As always, basic strategy takes into account that there are more cards in a deck with a value of ten than any other value. Therefore, if the dealer shows a 4-6, he has a good chance of having a 14-16, which are stiff hands that are likely of busting. If the dealer busts, you win no matter what cards you have, unless you also bust. For that reason, times when the dealer has a high probability of busting are good times to double down because you will win more money.
So how likely is the dealer to bust on these hands? In short: very. If the dealer has a hard 14, only five cards (3, 4, 5, 6, 7) will improve his hand, six cards (8, 9, 10, J, Q, K) will bust him and two cards (ace, 2) will leave him with another stiff hand, where he has to draw again and has a good chance of busting. If the dealer has a hard 15, there are only five cards (2, 3, 4, 5, 6) that will improve his hand, seven cards (7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K) that will make him bust and one card (ace) that will leave him with another stiff hand. If the dealer has a hard 16, only five cards (ace, 2, 3, 4, 5) will improve his hand, while eight cards (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K) will bust him. Therefore, with any of those three hands, there are 8/13 odds against the dealer.
If the dealer has anything else, it is best to simply take a hit rather than doubling, even if the dealer has a 12 or 13, which are also stiff hands. The reason for this is that if you double down, you can only take one card. One of the benefits of a soft hand is that you can hit over and over without risk of busting. Doubling down takes away that benefit. Therefore, you should only double with a soft hand if there is a high probability of the dealer busting. Any hand that you might have to actually beat you want to play by hitting.
Blackjack basic strategy, including doubling down strategy, works for both brick and mortar casinos and online casinos.