When to Double Down in Blackjack

Written by: Webster Lupton, Casino, Gambling, and Sports Journalist
5 minute read
Blackjack Double Down Strategy

Double down is one of the most exciting plays at the casino, it’s the thing that keeps the house edge so slim, and it has become part of the American lexicon. Knowing when to double down in blackjack, is the most important thing to get the most out of the game.

Use it correctly and reap the rewards, but use it at the wrong time, and your bankroll will dwindle. It’s time to learn exactly which hands to double down on at the blackjack table!

What Does Double Down Mean in Blackjack?

Doubling down in blackjack is simple. After the first two cards get dealt, you wager an additional amount equal to your original bet for only one more card. Therein lies the rub. The risk is in the chance you will get a card that doesn’t help much since you have to live with it and have no additional hits.

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How to Call For a Double Down

If you are at a table in a land-based casino, you signal a double down by pushing an equal amount beside the ante or initial bet. If you are at an online casino, a “double” or “double down” button will light up or appear for you to click.

Blackjack Double Down Rules

The rules of blackjack vary slightly from one variation to another. For instance, most tables will not allow you to double after splitting, but games like Spanish 21 and Super Fun 21 do. Also, some tables allow you to double only with a 10 or 11, limiting you with soft card combinations.

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At most casinos, the rules for doubling down in blackjack are pretty standard.

  • Your double-down bet must be equal to the initial bet or ante.
  • You get only one card in exchange.
  • You cannot double down after taking a hit or third card.

You should make sure to use all information you can gather at the table while you play. Even looking at other players’ cards can be beneficial. Plus, if the dealer has to check for blackjack before play progresses and they don’t have one, work that into your choice to double down, hit, or stand.

When You Should Double Down in Blackjack

OK, this is what you’re here for – the best opportunities to double down in blackjack. It is essential to getting the most return in your game.

Make sure you’re playing the odds and keep our hit/stand strategy chart with you at the table, so you make all the correct decisions. Without further ado, here are your winning bets when doubling down in blackjack:

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When You Have 11

If you never remember anything else here, remember this one. That’s because 11 is the best winning double-down bet in blackjack.

Only when a dealer is showing an ace should you even consider any other play.

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On a Hard 9 or 10

“Hard” hands are those that do not involve an ace. If you have a hard 9, double if the dealer is showing between 3 and 6.

If you have a hard 10, double down when the dealer shows 2 through 9.

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On Most Pairs of 5s

We’re all about numbers and odds here, and the math simply shows that this play is better than splitting or standing.

The exception is when the dealer has an ace or 10, and then you hit.

If You Have Soft 13-18 Depending on the Dealer’s Card

It gets a bit murkier with these soft combinations because the ace value is 1 or 11. But if you keep these rules in mind, your edge will be even sharper.

  • Always double a soft 13 or 14 when the dealer shows a 5 or 6.
  • Always double a soft 15 or 16 when the dealer shows a 4, 5, or 6.
  • Always double a soft 17 or 18 when the dealer shows a 3, 4, 5, or 6.

When You Should NOT Double Down

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It may be tempting to double down on a few other combinations, but watch it! Don’t surrender to temptation.

If you stay on the straight and narrow and remember that doubling down with anything under a 9 is a loser, then you are better off. Don’t double on these:

  • When the Dealer Has an Ace

    Remember that the ace is a strong card no matter who has it.
  • When You Have Higher Than 11

    Your risk of busting with hard hands above 11 is just too high. The soft exceptions are above.
  • Hard Hands 5 through 8

    You really need to play it safe with these. Just hit.
  • When you’re Holding a Soft 19 or 20

    Oh so tasty, but come on! You have the will! The numbers are on your side if you stand.

Keep Your Chips Up When You Double Down

Doubling down in real money blackjack games is a play that helps keep that return to player (RTP) percentage so high. You can keep your chip stack up when you use it correctly. Just be patient, wait for the right opportunities, and hopefully, you leave the table with some extra cash. 

Now, we know you’re anxious to see how our system works. So, head over to one of our top-rated blackjack casinos and give it a whirl.

Webster Lupton

Webster Lupton Casino, Gambling, and Sports Journalist

Webster Lupton is a journalist and expert sports and casino writer with over 30 years of experience. Webster is a seasoned researcher and a published author. He also enjoys the outdoors and birdwatching.

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