Player Advantages in Blackjack—Double Down

Sometimes when I’m out in a casino I hear a blackjack player complaining about how the dealer has the advantage. Usually these players have lost a good number of hands. But then when watching them I can see that they’re not playing by basic strategy even.

But as to the dealer having the advantage, not so much. When playing according to basic strategy, the house only has a 0.5% edge over the blackjack player. And what gives them that edge?

Mostly they have more cards that favor them. High cards favor the player, and low cards favor the dealer. There are twenty cards per deck that favor the player and twenty five that favor the dealer. That’s where the edge comes from mostly.

But look at what the player has in his blackjack pocket.

Let’s take a look at one of the plays that the blackjack player has that give him an advantage: double down.

Doubling down is when a player doubles his wager and only receives one more card before standing. If he wins, he is paid twice the amount of his original wager because he doubled his wager. Doubling down is done so that the player can take advantage of circumstances that lie heavily in his favor.

Players will usually double down when they have a good chance of making a strong hand with only one more card, usually with a hard 10 or 11 and sometimes with a hard 9. By doubling their wager they are taking advantage of the greater payout offered to them.

See, when a blackjack player wins a round he is paid 2-1. When the dealer wins he is only paid 1-1. The higher payout that a blackjack player receives is what tips the odds in his favor. If a player and the dealer each win the same number of hands, the player will have taken more of the dealer’s money than the dealer has taken of his. This is what tilts the odds in the player’s favor.

And that is why it is so important to double down when the opportunity arises. Doubling down not only has the benefit of receiving a greater payout, that greater payout hits the house harder than a payout on a non-doubled hand.