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Blackjack Gambling: How to Know When To Double Down


Popularized in the 1960s, blackjack is a well-known card game in the Twenty-One family. Today, it is undoubtedly one of the most popular card games, relished in gaming pits in brick-and-mortar as well as online casinos across the globe, with baccarat fighting for the spot in some parts of the world.

While rules sometimes differ between online casinos, the goal of the game remains the same: to have a hand that’s closer to 21 than the live dealers. Blackjack is not played against other players but against the dealer. Understanding the card values is the first step, as the numbers keep the face values of cards. Depending on the rules or the player’s preference, as could be worth 1 or 11. The Jacks, Queens, and Kings are all worth 10.

Dealers start by giving players two face-up cards, then deal themselves an up-card as well. Players take turns, usually starting from the dealer’s left. Each of them has two choices: standing or hitting.

Standing refers to refusing additional cards, indicating that the play considers their hand’s value closer to 21 than the dealer’s. If they choose to hit, they’ll receive an extra cart to approach 21. But this requires extra caution because reaching the number 21 would mean the player would lose or ‘go bust.’

Learning the rules is simple, but players have to be sharp enough to react to the game and decide as it develops, which makes it more interactive and complete than simple games like slots. Unlike most other casino games, blackjack gives the house only a tiny edge, as low as less than 1%.

Recommended Read: Online Blackjack Strategies That’ll Make For An Instant Win

However, success in blackjack depends on various strategies, and winning big is a matter of time, especially knowing the right time to double down. While there are many moves in a game of blackjacks, such as split pairs and insurance bets, the double down is the most exciting one because it can help you make the most profits. But the key is knowing when and how to double down and, more importantly, when not to use it.

Betting Sites Ranking is here to save the day, and your bankroll, by educating you about the ins and outs of the thrilling double-down move. Learn everything you need to know about making the doubling down at the right time to up your winnings big time.

How to Double Down in Blackjack?

person holding cards

Double down is a type of bet that enables players to double their ante in the middle of the hand, matching the initial wager amount in return for an extra card. Once the players get three cards, the round is over for them. Then they need to wait to see what the dealer shows.

In essence, it’s a simple move, but it’s risky as well because if a player is dealt a low card, they risk losing twice as many chips and cannot hit again. Also, because the house always has an edge.

However, it can greatly increase your payout if the player knows how to use it at the right time. For the risk to pay off, players need to make sure they double down at a time when they’ve got the advantage against the dealer.

In blackjack, it’s all about balancing between taking risks and playing it safe. So how to know when the time is right to double down? Let’s find out!

How to Know When to Double Down

Person looking at their cards

Situation #1- When the Cards Total Equals Eleven  

This is widely considered the best time to make the double-down move in blackjack. Players have a good chance that if they’re showing an 11, one more card can hit blackjack or at least get them close to it. And at the very least, they won’t break 21. That’s why many players choose to double down when their cards equal a total of 11.

Situation #2- A Hard 9

A hard hand refers to when there’s no ace involved. When a player is dealt a total of 9, it’s good to double down when the dealer shows a lower up-card. The best odds of success in this situation come when the dealer has face-up cards below 7, excluding the ace. It must be a hard 9 with no ace in your hand. So, the combinations can be 4-5, 6-3, or 7-2. If it’s a soft 9 (A-8), it’s best to stand. In addition, if the dealer shows an eight or higher, the players generally do better by just hitting.

Situation #3- A Soft 18, 17, or 16

Soft here refers to a hand where the player has an ace plus another card. It could be an ace with a 7, 6, or 5, giving the player a soft total of 16 to 18. When the dealer shows any card from 2 to 6, it’s a great time to double the ante.

Ace can be a real winner when playing blackjack because it increases the chances of hitting or getting close to 21. But with lower cards, even if a player has an ace, it’s better just to hit, as they’re less likely to end with a high hand.

If the dealer shows 8 or 7, and it’s a soft 18 for a player, it might be better to stand. Many live dealers on online blackjack tables stand at 17. When a player follows this, all they need to win is 18. So, it’s risky to hit on 17, but standing on 18 is a better call.

Situation #4- A Weak or Low-Value Dealer Card

Dealers must show one of their cards face-up, which affords players a great deal of information for doubling down. A prime example is when dealers show a low value or weak card. It can be anything like a 6, 5, 4, 3, or 2.

Even if the next dealt card is high, the dealer has fewer chances of beating the player who already has a solid total. In essence, if a player’s hand is stronger than the dealer’s weak card and the dealer’s next probable card is a high one, doubling down will most likely produce a win for the player.

How to Know When Not to Double Down?

Chips with a deck of card  

Situation #1- The Dealer Has the Ace

An ace is quite a powerful card for anyone playing blackjack. Therefore, it’s never a good idea to make the double-down move when the dealer is showing it. When the dealer is dealt an ace, the odds of them getting close to 21 or hitting blackjack are in their favor. In this scenario, choosing to double down will increase the chances of the player losing twice the amount of their original wager.

Situation #2- Hard Hand Higher than Eleven

It’s never a good idea to double down when a player has a hard hand higher than 11. This doesn’t include a soft 18, 17, or 16. The chances of going bust are very high for the risky move. When unsure, it’s better not to risk the money and hold back. In this situation, then, players should play safe by either standing or hitting, hoping the dealer goes bust.

Situation #3- A Hand of 21

Contrary to popular belief, players can double down when they have a hand of 21. Every time they’re dealt 21, they can double down and make the casino go bust. When a player scores the perfect hand of 21, chances are that dealers will automatically pay the winnings and end the game round. However, this depends on the rules and variants of the game.

From classic blackjack to American blackjack, European blackjack, Vegas strip, blackjack switch, perfect pairs, pontoon blackjack, face up 21, match play 21, and more, dozens of blackjack variants have sprung up over the years. Each has unique, attractive traits that test a player’s skills but employ the same standard as a total card number of 21. The only difference is the slight change of rules and the number of cards used in different blackjack variants.

Recommended Read: How To Maximize Your Earnings Playing Blackjack Online In A Live Casino

How to Perform the Doubling Down Action?

While doubling down at blackjack is straightforward, once a player knows the rules, they need to communicate their intentions to the dealers. Players must place their chips of equal or lesser amount of the actual bet on the table. It’s important to tell them you wish to double down or double when making the wager.

As obvious as this sounds, the motion is quite similar to splitting a pair, so it can lead to confusion. Therefore, the dealer must be clear that a player is doubling down or doubling to avoid misunderstanding. When the dealer acknowledges the new bet, another card with be dealt.

How to Make the Blackjack Playing Experience More Fun, Safer, and Profitable

Man enjoying gambling on top online casinos 

Tip #1- Avoid Insurance Bet Traps

Many online casino sites offer insurance bets where the dealer shows an ace. Always refuse it because it’s a waste of money. It’s best to let them peak down for a blackjack while you keep playing their hand according to the basic strategies followed by blackjack pros if you don’t have one of your own.

The basic idea behind insurance bets is when the dealer’s face-up card is an ace, players have the liberty to place wagers that the dealers would have a blackjack. This implies they will lose the initial deposit, but the insurance will pay on the 2:1 ratio. However, the chances of the dealer’s card being of a higher value are as low as 30%, meaning the chances of the player winning also reduce.

When the dealer asks players if they would like to move forward with even money bets, many people make the mistake of going ahead because beginners often don’t understand the gesture or terminologies. Even-money bets, in this case, mean insurance bets. Browse through Betting Sites Ranking’s guides to ensure you don’t make any common gambling mistakes the next time you sit at the blackjack table.

Tip #2- Ignore the Moves of Other Players

Once you become a regular at the casino, you’ll notice that some players criticize others for playing a certain way. Whether you stand, hit, split, or double down, there would likely be a fellow player or bystander who will claim you cost them money or made a mistake. Focus on your own game and ignore any such remarks. Play the strategy that suits each hand you’re dealt.

Tip #3- Don’t Fall for Winning Streaks

A lot of blackjack players believe that they have a better chance of winning after losing a few hands in a row. From a logical and mathematical viewpoint, all such things are absolutely wrong. Players are always just as likely to be dealt a losing hand or a winning one. However, this does not apply if you’re keeping a count on decks, in which case it’s a good idea to up your wager when the deck is favorable.

woman browsing reviews of the best gambling websites on her laptop

Tip #4- Look up Favorable Conditions and Rules

Top online casinos offer multiple variants of blackjack. Always look for the most favorable games until you find one where the dealer stands on soft 17 or one in which blackjack pays 3:2.

It’s even better when you find tables that let players double after splitting. Also, it’s recommended to find a blackjack game with fewer decks in the shoe. For anyone who comes across a single-deck game in live casinos that are trusted, it’s best to learn how to count cards and play that version.

In addition, it’s always wise to learn about the casino’s conditions before signing up. Finding out all the basic rules is crucial for a smooth and fair blackjack experience. Know about the payout rate to learn the reward rate you’ll be offered during the game.

Recommended Read: Which Online Casino Games Actually Give You Real Money?

Most fair tables offer 3:2 payout rates. It’s best to stay miles away from tables offering anything like 6:5 or worse, which is quite prominent in many online casinos. For instance, joining a table with a 3:2 payout rate will get you $30 on $20 bets. Meanwhile, a 6:5 would mean you’ll get $24 for the same bet. That’s why knowing the rules before signing up at a gambling site is crucial.

Looking at minimum bets is also important. Beginners must start with the lowest options. When players search thoroughly, they can find many tables that take minimum bets as low as $2 to $4. It’s best to start with those, but don’t forget to look out for particular restrictions on hitting or doubling down before moving forward with the bet.

Tip #5- Utilize Promotions and Comps

Many live casinos offer complimentary services and items when the player gives the dealers their card and asks them to be rated. The comp points are accumulated and can be exchanged for accommodations, chips, tickets, food, and other rewards. For most casinos, the greater the comps a player gets, the more minimized house edge gets for them.

Online gamblers can also enjoy all sorts of perks when playing on top online casinos. They can start with free spins, juicy bonuses, and other blackjack-specific promotions that help boost the bankroll and improve the chances of walking away with profits.

Tip #6- Look at the Blackjack Strategy Car

Whenever you’re trying your luck at live casino blackjack tables, always keep looking at the strategy card. It can annoy other players and slow down the game. But if you’re ever stuck in a situation where you don’t know what the next step should be, having the card on you helps freshen up the memory to enable you to move forward with the right move or strategy. Getting a few mean looks from fellow players is way better than losing your hard-earned money.

Queen and Ace card on chips  

Tip #7- Don’t Be Ignorant to Sign Language

Unlike what you may have seen in movies, players don’t say their actions out loud in the real gambling world. Blackjack, especially, is a game of gestures, so not knowing the right ones is a mistake you must avoid.

The surveillance cameras quickly pick up signals such as touching the up-faced cards, using the index finger to scratch the table when you want to hit or waving over the cards to imply standing.

Making a V with the middle and index finger to indicate a split after matching the original bet or putting extra money on the table to show the number 1 behind the cards are also some hand signals used to avoid misunderstandings.

However, these can be used against players when the house finds proper reasons. Since the rules are different for different blackjack games, such as single, double, or multi-deck variants, you need to educate yourself about signals that may cause trouble.

Tip #8- Don’t Make the Mistake of Miscalculating the Aces

Aces are definitely one of the trickiest parts of blackjack because they can hold two different values. They’re often counted as 11 or 1 at the same time, depending on the player’s next move. So, whether your hand is hard or soft will decide whether you’re prone to making blackjack mistakes or not.

Terminology 101: Soft hand versus hard hand differs regarding whether the blackjack cards a player has been dealt in the original bet include an ace or not. If a player is awarded an ace, they have control over their hand in the game. This is known as a soft hand. Alternatively, if the cards do not include an ace, the player might be stuck at a hand that’s a little challenging to shift. For example, if a player has been dealt a King and a 9, they would have a total of 19, which is very close to 21 but doesn’t exceed or reach the exact 21 requirements.

So, if a hand comprises a seven and an ace, it becomes an 18 as well as an eight at the same time. In this case, hitting and getting another ace makes it either 19 or 9. Further adding cards can get the player busted. Similarly, the combination of 2 and ace or six and ace isn’t suitable for a stand. The soft hand will only make the player win if the dealer busts. Therefore, it’s best to ask the dealer the exact total if a player is unsure.

Recommended Read: Tips And Tricks That Work In An Online Casino

Tip #9- Getting Close to 21 ASAP Shouldn’t be the Goal

Most blackjack strategies encourage players to get as close to 21 as early as possible to win. Sometimes beginners fail to understand that getting closer to 21 isn’t the only goal when playing blackjack on the top gambling sites.

For instance, if a player has a total of 12 while the dealer shows 6 as the up-card, the temptation to hit is justified. However, the pros never make this mistake in blackjack because it increases their chances of getting busted.

Logically, they must stand. This is because dealers need a hard 17 or more in this situation before they can stand. But the likelihood of them getting to a hard 17 is way less than many amateurs imagine. The key is to play the dealer rather than play the game. Keeping this in mind is the key to finding success in the competitive world of gambling.

woman celebrating her win  

Tip #10- Learn Cards Counting

While learning to count cards isn’t an obligatory strategy in blackjack, it’s helpful in some situations. Knowing how to count can be beneficial for the players looking to improve their chances of winning the 21-card game. A player can never tell when a game might come up in which card counting proves highly beneficial, such as in single-deck blackjack games or when the dealer rarely shuffles the cards in the shoe.

Recommended Read: What Is Skill-Based Gambling

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