Double Down House Rules

In most cases the house rules on blackjack will only allow players to double down on two starting hands: a hard 10 and a hard 11. But if you look at a basic strategy chart you’ll see that there are more recommended times to double then only when you have a hard 10 or hard 11.

Limiting when a player can double down in blackjack is the casinos’ way of trying to take away some of the effectiveness of an advantageous play. Doubling down at the most opportune times will hit the house’s edge for 1.6%. This is why doubling down is the most advantageous play in a blackjack player’s arsenal. By limiting when this play can be made, casinos are taking away from its effectiveness.

In other words, casinos don’t like that players can hit their house edge that hard and improve their odds, so they will do what they can to turn the tables.

This even applies to online blackjack. Online blackjack games are already programmed so that players don’t have the opportunity to double down on every hand. This is good for the online casinos because it keeps players from making extra on every hand they win. But it’s also good for players because it limits the losses that could happen from players who would become double down happy.

However some online blackjack games are just as limited as a brick-and-mortar casino in that they only allow double downs on hard 10s and hard 11s.

Going back to brick-and-mortar casinos, some will allow players to double down with more hands than just a hard 10 or hard 11. Take a look at your basic strategy chart again. You will see there are a good number of soft hands that are advantageous to double down on too.

By playing at table that allows players to double down on any hand, blackjack players can take advantage of those soft hand double downs too. The best soft hands to double down on are any in which you’re facing a dealer’s 6. Unless you have a soft 20, and in that case your best play is to stand—don’t throw a good hand away.

Always be on the lookout for a blackjack table that lets you double down on any two cards. And if you’re playing blackjack online and find a game that will only let your double down on a hard 10 or hard 11 find another online blackjack game to play.

Other Ways to Win in Blackjack

When playing blackjack, players tend to get very focused on being deal that 21. But it isn’t the only way to win in blackjack as we all know. Remember that the objective of blackjack is to beat the dealer without going over 21. This doesn’t mean that a natural 21 is the only way to beat the dealer—it’s just the most popular.

In blackjack, 70% of your offensive hands will be won with either a natural blackjack or its closest runner a 10/10. But what about the other 30% of offensive hands? They are made up of five hands: a 10/9, an Ace/9, an Ace/8, a hard 11 and a hard 10.

But in order to make the most of these winning hands they must be played the right way. And, yes, in blackjack these hands do have a right way of being played. So we’re going to take a look at them and what to do with them.

Ace/10
This is the much coveted natural blackjack. These two cards are the only ones that can make a natural blackjack, although the 10 could also be a face card. If you’re dealt these cards, congratulate yourself and collect your money.

10/10
This hand is often misplayed because the first thing that blackjack players see is that it’s a pair. But not every pair is made to be split. And this is one of them. It’s folly to split a 10/10 because you don’t have good chances of building two hands that are just as strong. So leave them unsplit.

10/9
This would be known as a hard 19, and after a hard 20 it is the next strongest hand to have. You can only be beat if the dealer has or hits to 20 or 21, or if he has a natural 21.

Ace/9
This is another hand that blackjack players will sometimes stumble on. And it’s because of the Ace. They see that this is a soft hand and assume that hitting is the right play to make. But this is actually a soft 20, and if you stand on it, it’s just as strong as a hard 20 in playing terms.

Ace/8
This hand is treated in a way that is similar to the Ace/9. Blackjack players will hit on it when they should be standing. It’s only a hard 19, but played as a 19 it is worth more than if it’s hit on.

Hard 11
With this hand the best play to make is to double down. This is a strong hand to start on and even though you are only receiving one more card, it still has a good chance of being high enough to beat the dealer and collect double the winning amount. The best time to double down on a hard 11 is when faced with a dealer’s 10 or anything less.

Hard 10
Like the hard 11, this hand is best played and most profitable when a blackjack player double downs on it. But the best times to double down on it is when faced with a dealer’s 9 or less.

Keep these hands and how they are played in your mind when you are at the computer playing blackjack online or are playing blackjack at the casino. It doesn’t matter which place you’re playing at because these hands’ worths and plays are the same for both casino blackjack and online blackjack.

Making the Most of a Double Down

Splitting pairs and doubling down are two of the blackjack plays deemed to be favorites. Mostly because they offer the opportunity to get a little more in one round than the average round. But of the two, double down is the preferred of the two plays. It has the ability to win more money on one hand, whereas with a split pair you might lose one hand and win the other, creating a draw. And that applies to blackjack online as well as in a casino.

But in order to take the most advantage of a double down you need to know the best times in blackjack to double down. Sure you can look on a basic strategy chart and see when those times are, but why at those times? Knowing the why can help enforce when to double down and can keep you doubling down when it’s best and not at less advantageous times.

There are three hard hands that you want to double down on: 9, 10 and 11. But you don’t want to double down on those hands against every single dealer’s up card. These are the times to double down in blackjack:

Hard 9 against a dealer’s 3, 4, 5 or 6
Hard 10 against a dealer’s 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9
Hard 11 against a dealer’s 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10

The reasons that these are the best times to double down in blackjack is because if you only receiving one more card. And because you are only receiving one more card your starting total needs to be strong without being a stiff hand. Stiff hands begin at hard 12. Hard 9, 10 and 11 are as strong as you can get for a starting total without putting yourself in dance of busting.

Even if you double down on a hard 9 and only receive an 8 that still gives you 17, which is still a reasonable hand to stand on.

But doubling down has such a draw to it in blackjack because of the potential of making twice the winnings on only one hand. You just have to know the best times to double down and why they are the best. Don’t be afraid of putting down the extra wager amount to double down in a blackjack game, be it an online blackjack game or one in a casino.

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.