Double Down Strategy for Blackjack

Reference materials offering strategies to help you win in your live blackjack games abound, given the game's popularity among players.

One such strategy is the double down, or doubling your bet in the middle of a play in exchange for an additional card, after which you may no longer draw. This is considered particularly speculative since you have committed to stand after the extra card, which may turn out to be of low value. However, with a good extra card, this could result in large wins given twice your wager. Considering the high risks and high yields, this turn may either be underutilized or overused by a player, depending on his risk appetite.

To help avoid relying on gut feel on when to choose this play, below are the three scenarios where mathematical logic states the double down is best employed. With these three hands, statistics have shown that you will likely end up having a high hand and thus beat the dealer, and you cannot go over twenty-one or bust. So read up and try this turn in one of your next live blackjack games.

The three situations involve two hard hands and a soft one. A quick review: a hard hand means neither of your two cards is an Ace, while a soft one means that you have at least one Ace.

With a hard nine (meaning you hold either a 2-7 or 3-6 or 4-5), you must make this move if the dealer's up card is anywhere from two to six inclusive, meaning anything below seven except an ace. Conversely, a soft nine (or A-8) is already a good hand and it would be best to stop with that.

With a hard ten or 11 (meaning you hold either 2-8, 2-9, 3-7, 3-8, 4-6, 4-7, 5-5 or 5-6), it is always a wise choice to double down.

With a soft 16 to 18 inclusive (meaning you hold either A-5, A-6 or A-7), look at the dealer's up card. If it is again a two to six inclusive, then the move is a good decision. With a lower value soft hand (meaning A-2, A-3 or A-4 giving you totals of 13, 14 or 15, respectively), it is wiser to simply hit.

Note that certain house rules may prevent you from opting for this turn even when any of the above scenario shows up, so make sure you keep these in mind the next time you play your live blackjack games.