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Blackjack Rules (Double-Down): How and When to Do It

blackjack double-down

In blackjack, the player has the option to double down after they have seen their two first cards. This means that they are opting to double their bet and receive one more card from the dealer.

The option to double down is potentially a very useful tool that can increase your RTP as a player – but only when it is used correctly.

Too often I’ve seen players who don’t understand the correct double-down rules and strategy, and this can make a mess of their hand and everyone else’s!

So today I want to go over the rules for doubling down in blackjack, and give you some tips on when you should do it and when you should not.

What is a Double Down in Blackjack?

A double down is when you double your original bet after receiving your first two cards.

For example, if you bet $5 and then receive two cards that add up to 11, you can choose to double down and increase your bet to $10.

You will then receive one more card from the dealer, and at this point, you must stand. You cannot hit again.

What are the Blackjack Rules for Double Down?

The specific rules on doubling down depend on what version of the game you are playing. Here are the common rules for some popular versions of blackjack.

  • Classic Blackjack – Double any two cards.
  • Vegas Strip – Double any two cards.
  • Atlantic City – Double any two cards.
  • American – Double on 10 or 11.
  • European – Double on 9, 10, or 11.
  • Perfect Pairs – Double any two cards.

In each version, the player receives one additional card after doubling down.

Refer to the complete guide on how to play blackjack for gameplay guidance, and the 5-minute blackjack rules guide for a full rundown of all the rules.

However, these rules can still vary between casinos. If in doubt, always check the table rules before you play.

The Benefits of Doubling Down

The main benefit of doubling down is that it allows you to get more money on the table when you are in a stronger position than the dealer.

For example, if you have a strong hand, such as an 11, and the dealer is showing a weak card, such as a 5, then at this point you are more likely to win the hand than the dealer is.

It makes sense then to increase your stake at a time when the odds of winning the hand are in your favor.

The Downsides of Doubling Down

Of course, there are also downsides to doubling down. The main one is that you can lose twice your original stake if the cards don’t fall your way.

Even when you play the double-down rules perfectly, sometimes you’ll be unlucky and lose the hand anyway.

You’ll need to have the chip stack (and the mentality) to be able to cope with this. It can certainly be disappointing when you double an 11 against a 4, 5, or 6 and expect to get a decent win, but end up losing twice your stake.

However, by sticking to the blackjack strategy tables, you can minimize the times that this happens and help push the odds more in your favor.

So when should you double down?

When to Double Down

The most common time to double down is when you have a hard hand of 11 and the dealer is showing a low card.

This is because an 11 gives you a very good chance of hitting 21 (or getting close to it), and a low card from the dealer means that they are unlikely to beat you.

There are other circumstances where you might want to double down.

If you’re playing a multi-deck game (which in most cases you will be) then 9, 10, and 11 are the only hard hands you would want to double.

It then depends on the dealer’s upcard. A hard 9 should only be doubled against a 3, 4, 5, or 6. Hard 10s can be doubled against any upcard between 2 and 9, and hard 11s against anything between 2 and 10.

This is because basic strategy is based on the premise that every card drawn is most likely to be a ten, and so you have a good chance of achieving a strong hand with one more card.

Refer to the full blackjack charts for a precise set of instructions on exactly when you should double down.

When Not to Double Down

There are also circumstances where you should NOT double down, even if it might seem like a good idea at the time.

I have seen many players double a hard 8 against a lower value card, but this is the wrong play unless you are playing with a single deck.

Likewise, you should never double anything higher than 11, even when the dealer’s card is weak. Chances are you’ll go bust and lose twice your stake.

How to Double Down

If you are playing in a real-world casino and you want to double, you need to slide additional chips, to the same value of your original bet, into the betting circle. Then tap the table.

Remember not to touch the cards.

If you are playing online, if you have the option to double then the double down button on your PC, laptop or mobile will be illuminated. Just click or tap to make it happen.

You must have sufficient chips in your account to place the additional bet.

Variations on the Double-Down Rule

Some blackjack variations have different rules when it comes to doubling down. These can swing the odds in your favor or make it more difficult to win.

In Atlantic City Blackjack, for example, you are only allowed to double down on your first two cards. You can’t double after splitting.

In European Blackjack, you can only double down if your first two cards are worth 9, 10, or 11. You can’t split and then double either – you must make your decision before splitting the cards.

In Spanish 21, there is the added bonus that you can double down on any hand, even after splitting. You can also re-split aces. These rules make it much easier to win with a double-down strategy.

Be sure to check the blackjack variations and house rules before you play, so that you know exactly what doubling-down options are available to you.

Last Updated on September 15, 2022

David Graham
Posted in Rules & How to Play, Strategy

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