Doubling Down Blackjack Strategy: When to Increase Your Advantage

The doubling down Blackjack strategy is a bold and typical move among card players. 

You can choose to double down whenever it feels right, but there are specific times when this move is most advantageous. 

And doubling down at the wrong time could seriously diminish your winning chances. 

We will explain precisely what the strategy implies and when to use it smartly.

Basic strategy

Whenever you begin a Blackjack game, you must place your first bet before any card is dealt. Usually, that is the only wager you can make. 

However, if you choose to double down, you will be able to make another equal bet, which will bring you an extra card.

To signal that you intend to double down, it is customary to raise one finger. This may be challenging if you are not in a land-based casino. 

If you are playing in an online environment, most games will offer a double down button. Alternatively, you can request it by placing an additional bet when your turn is up. 

Once you have three cards, your turn is complete, and the dealer must reveal their cards. 

Doubling down in different types of Blackjack

Most Blackjack versions will allow you to use this option regardless of the total sum of the cards in your hand. 

There are specific Blackjack games that will allow you to double down only if your total is 11, 10, or 9. In such cases, you must adjust your strategy according to the dealer’s upcard. 

Here’s how it goes: 

Blackjack variants that impose a 9 total

If your total cards equal 9, doubling down works best if the dealer’s upcard is 6 or lower, but no lower than 2. The move is called a hard 9 because Ace cards should not be used. 

In short, the move only works if your cards are 4&5, 3&6, or 2&7. Having an Ace and an 8 would constitute a soft 9, so doubling down at that time does not bode well for your total.

Blackjack variants that impose a 10 or 11

Should your pairing equal a hard 10 or 11 without using an Ace, it’s time to double down. So, the possible combinations are:

  • 6&5
  • 7&4
  • 6&4
  • 8&3
  • 7&3
  • 2&9
  • 2&8

In this case, you must estimate that the dealer’s total is lower than your total. 

Doubling down at any time

When the game variant you play allows you to use the doubling down Blackjack strategy at any time, you can still use the situations above in the proper context. 

So, if your total is a hard 9, 10, or 11, make sure the dealer’s upcard is low or that their estimated total is lower than yours.

Other favorable times to use the doubling down Blackjack strategy

Timing is everything when attempting the doubling down Blackjack strategy. Here’s how the right timing looks like and how to incorporate it in your gameplay:

At the beginning of the game

The hard 9 strategy works best at the beginning of the session. The player gets two cards at the start of every game, while the dealer only has one. 

So, if the dealer’s card is 5 or 6, you have the upper hand because the dealer will be less likely to get close to a 21. In this case, the best outcome is to draw a 10, Jack, Queen, or King.

The soft 11 game

It is a bit risky because of the Ace but could work if the dealer has a low card. A total of 11 brings you closer to achieving the 21 total, so you need a lower-value card to win. 

If you are in a physical casino or at a live online Blackjack table, make sure the dealer uses between six and eight decks. This increases the probability of drawing the card you need in this situation.

The soft 16 to 18 game

However, having an Ace is not a complete deal breaker if your total is 16, 17, or 18. This should also be used when the dealer’s upcard is low (2 to 6).

Never use the doubling down strategy if you have a card pairing of an Ace and a low card.

When to avoid the doubling down Blackjack strategy

Suppose you are an experienced player or highly intuitive. In that case, it’s best never to double down if you feel unsure or unlucky at a given moment. 

For players in need of more specific guidance, here are a few practical pointers on wrong timings:

Beware of the Ace

When the dealer’s card is an Ace, they have high odds of getting the Blackjack, whether they take another card or check. 

Doubling down in this situation ends your hand quickly. You may lose more because you have placed an additional bet to double down.

Higher totals than 11

Don’t use the doubling down Blackjack strategy if your card pair equals more than 11. Such a hand is too close to 21, and an additional card will likely take you over.

You don’t want that to happen after you’ve just placed an additional bet. 

So, it’s best to stick to your lower total or hit in such instances.

Less is more

The best strategy is never to use doubling down aside from the strategic situations we mentioned, and only if you can afford the loss and feel particularly lucky. 

Generally, players who double down all the time lose the most. 

Can you double down when splitting in Blackjack?

Yes, with one exception. 

Splitting involves playing to standard hands formed by your initial cards. 

The best time to double down on a split is when you have a 10 paired with a 10. When you split, you will play two one-card hands. For each of them, you are dealt additional cards.

Should the dealer’s upcard value be between 3 and 6, double down on both hands and increase your odds of reaching 21. 

However, this is one of the riskier moves as it involves tripling your bet. 

The only exception is when you split Aces. When this is the case, you are usually not allowed to double down, hit, or split again. 

In summary

Always remember that doubling down means double your bet for an extra card. This can increase your winnings but also your losses. 

Advantages of doubling down

  • It doubles the winnings if the hand is lucky;
  • The strategy can increase winning chances under the right circumstances.

Even though playing a doubled bet is a greater risk, the doubling down Blackjack strategy maximizes an already good hand. It gives players more information about their options and makes them aware of the dealer’s hand. 

Be sure to use it wisely, striking a delicate balance between risk and safe play. 

Nakoa Davis