Casino: When to Double Down?

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For many gamblers, doubling down is a favourite move in blackjack. The strategy allows you to double your bet in the middle of a hand in exchange for an extra card. There’s no doubt that the move is risky, but it often pays off – particularly if you know when to use it. Unfortunately, doubling down at the wrong moment will end your betting. If you receive a particularly low second card, you’re unable to hit again so will end the game with a low total.

The risky nature of the move can lead to many players avoiding the bet, and over-confident players using it far too often. To get the most from doubling down and maximise your winnings, you’ll need to find a balance between safe and risky gameplay. In this article, we explore when and how to use the double down strategy.

How the System Works

Before going into detail, it’s important to understand how the system works. If you want to double down, you’ll need to let the dealer know your intention. To do this, simply place a new stack of chips next to your original bet. In most casinos, placing the same amount of chips as your original wager is the signal for double-down.

Once the dealer has acknowledged your intention, he will place an additional card across your two existing cards. Once this has been done, the double down procedure is over. You won’t be able to do anything else with the hand, regardless of the value of your new card. In other words, the total of your three cards is the hand you’ll be playing.

When to Double Down

Thankfully, basic blackjack strategies are worked out using mathematical probability. This means that they’re effective almost every time, providing that you use them correctly. In regular blackjack, there are three situations where it’s best to double down. In all of these situations, you can’t go bust and are in a great position to finish with a high hand. Better still, the dealer is statistically most likely to lose the hand. These strategies are explained in more detail below.

Hard 9 Against the Dealer’s Low Cards

The first situation to double down is a hard 9 against the dealer’s low cards. When your initial cards total 9, double down when the dealer’s up card is 2 through 6. In other words, double down when the dealer shows any card below 7, not including the Ace. It’s important to note that your hand must be a hard 9; meaning that there is no Ace. The combinations for a hard 9 could be 3-6, 2-7, or 4-5. If you have an A-8, you have a soft 9; in this case, it’s best to stand rather than double down.

Soft 16 To 18 Against the Dealer’s Low Cards

If you have a soft hand, you can double down in certain situations. For example, if you have an Ace and either a 5, 6, or 7 and the dealer’s up card is 2 through 6. If you’ve got an Ace and a lower card, most notably 2 through 4, it’s best to hit. This is because you’re unlikely to end with a high hand if you choose to double down.

Hard 10 Or 11 Against Any Lower Dealer Card

The final situation to double down is a hard 10 or 11 against the dealer’s low card. If you’ve got a hard 10 or 11, you’re in a powerful position. In case you’re unsure, a hard 10 or 11 is a hand with any two cards, not including an Ace, that total 10 or 11. The combinations for a hard 10 or 11 include 2-9, 2-8, 3-7, 3-8, 4-6, 4-7, 5-6. If the dealer’s up card has a lower total, double down.

How to Let the Dealer Know

So now you know when to double down, but how do you do it? In blackjack, the signal for double down is the same as the signal for a split. In most cases, this isn’t a problem as you’re either doubling down or splitting. However, if you want to double down on a pair, you’ll need to notify the dealer that you’re doubling down and not splitting. To do this, simply say the words “double down” when placing your new bet. This will ensure that the dealer knows your intention.

If you’re playing blackjack online, things are a little different. As you cannot verbally say the words “double down” to the dealer, you’ll need to do something else instead. In most casinos, you can just hit the double down button and your additional bet will be placed immediately. If you’re unsure, enquire before the game begins.

What are the Rules?

Before deciding to double down, it’s important to know the rules. Unfortunately, not every casino will allow you to double down your hand, and not every game will follow the same rules. In most cases, the double down rule allows gamblers to double down on their original two-card hand. However, there are some variations of the rule.

While the double down rule often covers your first two-card hand only, that’s not always the case. Some casinos will also allow you to double down on a blackjack. Others will restrict the double down move to either a hard 9, hard 10 or hard 11. In this case, your first two-card hand must total 9, 10, or 11 and cannot include an Ace. In most casinos, players can also double down after a split. This rule is normally the same in both online and land-based casinos.

In Summary

Providing that you use it correctly, this double down strategy should stay true. However, keep in mind that the rules of the game vary between casinos. As this can affect your decision making, be clear of the rules before the game begins.

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