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When to Double Down in Live Blackjack – And When Not To

Doubling down in blackjack is a crucial part of any correct blackjack strategy. Knowing when to double down and when not to is essential.

As you can see in my Blackjack Table Rules article, being allowed to double down on any card reduces the house edge by 0.19%, and being able to Double Down After Split (DDAS) reduces it by a further 0.14%, for a total 0.33% advantage for the player.

Of course, provided you know the correct strategy and can double down exactly when you have to and avoid doubling down when you’re not supposed to.

That is what this page is about. After reading this, you should have a perfect understanding of doubling down in live blackjack and be able to apply it to any blackjack game successfully.

Many players say doubling is where you make money in blackjack.

when to double down in blackjack

What is doubling down?

Doubling down means, quite literally, doubling your bet and taking a third card after you’ve seen your first two cards. You’d only do this if taking a third card won’t bust your hand, and the dealer shows a weak upcard. You’re more likely to win the hand than the dealer, so it’s advantageous to double your bet.

For example, when your hand is 55, and the dealer has 4. Your initial bet is £100, so doubling down will cost you £100 more. The math (and Basic Strategy) says you have the upper hand and have a better chance of winning, which is why you place that extra bet.

Note you will always get one extra card after you double down—no more, no less.

Ground Rules

We first must establish some ground rules or table rules. This page will be about live blackjack and the usual rules you’ll see in live dealer blackjack:

  • 8 Decks, shuffled 1/2 way through the shoe.
  • Dealer Stands on Soft 17 is a favourable rule for the player – the dealer gains an 0.21% edge if he’s allowed to hit on Soft 17. It’s predominant in the live dealer blackjack world.
  • Double Down on Any Card is also a predominant rule, but a few blackjack games only allow doubling on 9, 10 and 11.

Make sure you play a game where you can double down on any card and where the dealer stands on Soft 17.

These are the two key things to check for the doubling-down strategy.

Also, check for other rules, such as the dealer returning half the stake on double if dealer BJ with ten is showing. Playtech has that one.

Doubling down in Live Dealer Blackjack

As I said above, there are specific table rules that this strategy applies to. It will apply to any game with those rules, whether live dealer blackjack, RNG blackjack or real blackjack.

In this article, I’ll use live dealer blackjack as the example and Evolution’s Infinite Blackjack with an RTP of 99.47%, which has a favourable set of rules, including the two main ones I mentioned – dealer must stand on Soft 17 and double down on any card.

When to Double Down

Let’s see when you’re supposed to double down, using hard totals (totals without an Ace) and soft totals (totals with an Ace).

  • A Hard 11 – Always double down. Even when the dealer has an Ace.
  • A Hard 10 – Double down if the dealer doesn’t have ten or Ace. Or even then.
  • Hard 9 – Double down if the dealer has 2 to 6.
  • Soft 16, 17, 18 – Double down if the dealer has 3 to 6.

Hard 10 or 11

A Hard ten or Hard 11 puts you in a very powerful position, as you can get 21 with one additional card.

This is why some players say you have to always double down on Hard ten and Hard 11 regardless of what the dealer has. The more cautious players say you should only double down on Hard ten if the dealer doesn’t have ten or Ace.

Others say go aggressive and double down on 10 and 11, always.

Also, note you’re never supposed to split a pair of 5’s. The correct decision is to double down, or if you’re more cautious and the dealer has an Ace, Hit.

Hard nine against Low Cards

A Hard 9 is a good hand. You can easily get 19 or 20 with one more card.

With a Hard 9, the dealer’s total is a vital thing to consider. You want the dealer’s card to be between 2 and 6. If they’re Ace or seven or above, Hit.

If you have an Ace-8, which is a Soft 9, it’s always best to Stand.

Soft 16 to 18 Against Low Cards

If you have an Ace plus a 5, 6 or 7, giving you a Soft total of 16, 17 or 18, respectively, and the dealer has 3 through 6, this is an ideal situation for doubling your bet.

Note that this is applicable when the dealer must Stand on Soft 17. If he must Hit on Soft 17, you’ll double down when the dealer has cards 2 through 6.

If you have an Ace and a lower card (2 to 4), for a Soft total of 13 to 15, it’s best just to Hit, as you are less likely to end with a high hand after being dealt just one more card.

When not to Double Down

We will never be doubling down on any total between 2 and 7, but let’s cover some other hands players are usually confused about when it comes to doubling down.

  • Hard 8 – Always Hit.
  • Soft 19 (A-8) – Always Stand. There is no point in taking an additional risk as the hand is already favourable and above the usual winning hand average of 18.5.
  • Soft 13 to 15 (A-2, A-3, A-4) – Just Hit, as you’re less likely to end up with a high hand.
  • Any Hard total over 11 – Don’t double down, as the chance of going bust with another card is too high.

Double Down After Split (DDAS)

Double Down After Split is one of the best options for you as a player.

When you are dealt a pair and split them, with this rule, you can make a double-down bet on either or both of those new hands if they meet the criteria for doubling down, as described above.

This is favourable as you want to double down on hands that meet the criteria.

It sucks if you’re not allowed to double down a hand that deserves it simply because it came from a split.

In a game where you’re playing the perfect blackjack strategy to break even, DDAS and its 0.14% advantage might just be what you need to start making money.

DDAS or no DDAS? You’ll be splitting differently.

Being allowed to double down after the split influences your overall strategy a bit.

You’ll be splitting more hands when you’re allowed to double down after splitting, which also means you’ll be doubling down more often.

Four live blackjack games offer DDAS. They are BetConstruct Live Blackjack, Ezugi Live Seven Seat Blackjack, Playtech Live Quantum Blackjack Plus and Portomaso Oracle Live Blackjack.

Most other games you’ll encounter, land-based or online, RNG or live, don’t have DDAS. This shows what a powerful and advantageous rule it is.

When DDAS is allowed, you’ll be a bit more liberal with your splitting.

You will split 22 and 33 when the house has upcards 2 through 7, as opposed to splitting when the upcards are 4 through 7 when DDAS isn’t available.

Also, with DDAS, you’re going to split 44 when the house has upcards 5 or 6; without DDAS, you wouldn’t split them. You’ll split 66 when the house has upcards 2 through 6; without DDAS, you’d split them when the upcards are 3 through 6.

After splitting, evaluate each hand separately and apply the rules for doubling down that I taught you on this page.

Conclusion

Doubling down is arguably the best tool you can use to beat the dealer.

You double down when your chances are higher than the dealers. If you’d do that every single time, in the long run, you’d certainly make a profit – and the profit would be much higher than if you haven’t doubled down.

This is why it’s imperative to know precisely when you’re supposed to double down and when not.

Even more so if you’re playing at a DDAS table, as your doubling down decisions are magnified, correct or not.

While some hands are easy decisions, some, like Soft 18, are much more of a challenge. It’s these problematic hands you must master if you want to double down correctly.

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About Neil’s Casino Comparer Reviews

I have tried to be objective and consistent with all my live casino reviews. Hopefully, they will strike a chord with you, but I thought it might be helpful to explain the criteria I use to mark each of the casinos. Hopefully, the categories and explanations make sense.

Playability – What is the overall impression of the casino? Did I have a good time? are the dealers nice and chatty and is everything easy to understand? Does it have a good set of games and is there a comprehensive set of betting options? Are high stakes players taken care of?

Software – What is the software like to use and does it integrate well with the rest of the casino?. Are the images clear and is the video streaming fast? Have they taken more than the default shared tables? Is it available on mobile?

Payment Options – Does the casino have a good variety of payment options? Do they payout quickly and on time?

Security – How good is the reputation of the casino amongst other players? Do they hold a valid gaming license? Are they transparent about the security measures they have in place? Are they regularly audited? Do they publish this information?

Support – Do they have multiple methods for communication with me? Is support available 24×7? Do they have instant chat and are they quick to respond? Are they able to help me immediately? Do they have an online FAQ and self-help library? Are the support people knowledgeable about the product I’m playing?

Bonuses – Do they have bonuses?. How strict are the wagering requirements? Do they offer repeat bonuses?. Do they offer loyalty points and can they be redeemed for cash or playing credits?

After all that, would I play there regularly?

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