Blackjack Strategy: When to Double Down

Author Image Article By Dean Ryan GDC - Icon - Black - Info
Fact Check Icon Fact Checked by Viky Refalo
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What is Doubling Down?

Whether playing in a land-based or online casino, Doubling 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 gamble, as it usually ends your betting - if you receive a particularly low second card you can't hit again.

This can lead to a more timid blackjack player avoiding the double bet, and more adventurous players making it far too often. It's important to try and strike a balance between sensible safe play, such as using a basic strategy, and risky double downs to maximise your potential winnings.

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When to Double Down

Fortunately, basic strategies for blackjack have been meticulously mapped using mathematical probability, designed to tell you exactly when it is best (in the long run) 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.

Hard 9 Against the Dealer's Low Cards

When you are dealt a total of 9, double down when the dealer's upcard shows something between 2 and 6 (any card below 7, not including 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 (a soft 9), it's best to stand, regardless of what the dealer shows.

Soft 16 To 18 Against the Dealer's Low Cards

If you have an Ace and either a 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 makes 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.

Blackjack Cards

Splitting in Blackjack

"Splitting" is a key blackjack strategy where you divide your pair of hole cards into two hands, doubling your original bet. This move, part of the double down in blackjack strategy, can potentially double your winnings or losses.

Splitting is advisable in live blackjack and online blackjack when you have a pair of aces or eights. With more 10-value cards in the deck, splitting aces statistically increases your chances of hitting 21. Two hands of eight are also easier to play than a single hand of 16.

However, if you're dealt a pair of 10s, it's best to stick as you're unlikely to improve your hand. The dealer's hand also influences your decision to split. For instance, if you have a pair of nines, it's statistically best to split if the dealer has a two, three, four, five, six, eight, or nine. If the dealer has a seven, 10, or ace, it's more sensible to stand.

Similar rules apply to pairs of sixes, sevens, fours, twos, or threes. The dealer's card determines whether you should split or take another card. Understanding these nuances of splitting as part of your blackjack strategy can significantly enhance your gameplay.


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Pay Attention to the Rules

In almost every Blackjack game these strategies for doubling down and splitting should stay true. However, be aware that the rules of Blackjack do vary between casinos, which can affect your decision making. If it's possible to double with three or more cards, then you may find additional hands when you could double down, so pay attention to your total.

On the other hand, you might find situations where the rules say you can't double when the strategy says you should - such as on soft hands (those with an Ace). If you cannot double down when you'd like, be sure to hit instead. To try this double down strategy out in a cash game before hitting a real-life casino, check out the best sites for playing online blackjack!

Doubling Down in Blackjack 101

Doubling down in Blackjack allows the player an option to double their wager following receipt of their original two cards. You then get dealt one - and only one - additional card. Then it's you versus the dealer to decide who wins. One major advantage to doubling down in blackjack, is the positive impact it can have on lowering the house edge.

A player doubles down because the situation looks positive so they risk more to win more. As you can control when to double down, this is a powerful tool for the player who can spot the perfect opportunity. 

Where to Play Blackjack Online in Canada

If you are interested in finding the best Canadian online casinos, then we have complied a list on this site. In Canada the casinos that are available to you very much depends on your location due to each province having its own laws around gambling.

The laws surrounding online gambling are changing and soon you will be able to play blackjack without having to sign up with offshore casinos in some provinces. For example, soon online casinos in Ontario will be legal so keep an eye out if you are based in that province.

Doubling Down in Blackjack FAQs

Can you Double Down after Hitting?

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Can you Split and Double Down?

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Should you Always Double Down on 11?

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How do you Signal a Double Down?

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Updated by GDC - Icon - Black - Info

Dean Ryan

Fact Checked by

Viky Refalo
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