When You Should Use A Double Down Strategy

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Blackjack is essentially the US variant form of the popular card game known the world over as Twenty-One. The game is normally played among several card players who act in turn to try and beat the dealer. Games of online blackjack employ one or more standard card decks and players try to use one of three basic game strategies to outmanoeuvre ​the dealer:

1) An individual player will try to score 21 points with the first two cards dealt. This outcome is called a ‘blackjack’, but to win the player must score a blackjack before the dealer can do so.

2) An individual player will attempt to acquire enough cards to reach a final score which beats the dealer’s total – but without exceeding a maximum score of 21.

3) An individual player will decide to let the dealer continue drawing cards until the dealer’s hand of cards exceeds 21 – at this stage, the dealer is then ‘bust’ and the player wins.

A good understanding of mathematics can be a real asset when playing online blackjack NZ. This skill not only ensures you can track your progress towards a score of 21, the game’s core feature, it also helps to guide and inform your use of some of the major blackjack strategies many players employ. These structured gameplays all broadly aim to track the emergence of certain cards as a game progresses. This information, often known as ‘card counting’, can give watchful players a better picture or appreciation of the cards still remaining hidden in the pack at any moment in the game. Such information allows any skilled gambler to adjust their bets accordingly in line with their developing understanding of the fluctuating odds which thus occur.

Card counting itself seldom involves a player logging every card in their memory in such a way that such cards can be instantly recalled later in the game. In practice, card counting strategies usually involve just counting certain key cards, or groups of cards, and remembering to use a simple coding system to create a running total inside the player’s head. In a sense, card counting is like any strategy which gathers data to forecast events. For example, if you collect and analyse weather data, it may help you understand if it’s likely to rain when you go for a walk outside.

A further feature of blackjack which players must understand is what is known as the ‘house edge’. Essentially this is a statistical bias in favour of the gambling site which, because of the rules of the game, is always present when blackjack is played. However, it’s worth knowing that online blackjack is one casino game where the house edge can vary, and if a skilled player uses a basic strategy yet has only average luck, this can reduce the house edge to below 1%. This makes blackjack a game much favoured by skilful players looking to increase their chances of winning.

Another important consideration is that any rule changes, which are a regular feature of some blackjack variant games played in JackpotCity and other casinos, will also have an effect on the house edge and thus a player’s chances of gaining winning payouts.

Blackjack player decisions

Having been dealt two cards to start the game, the player can then make the following game decisions:

– Hit: which means request another card from the dealer.

– Stand: decide to take no further cards – also known as a ‘stick’ option.

– Double down: double the amount originally bet, in return for a promise to stand after being dealt one further card.

– Split: when dealt two cards of equal numerical value, a player can elect to split and play each card as a separate hand. Thus placing a separate stake on each.

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What exactly is doubling down when playing online blackjack?

As explained above, blackjack is renowned for having a lower house edge. But this only really helps players who are prepared to employ a good strategy to press home this initial advantage. And choosing the right moment to employ doubling down can be very effective because it opens up the chance to place a further bet and thus increase your winnings at JackpotCity.

The process of a double down decision has already been explained above. And just as a reminder, once you receive your one extra card your hand is finished. That means you must then wait to see what hand the dealer can produce.

When is the best time to double down?

Doubling down opens up options while closing down others. So it can be a risky strategy which needs to be deployed with a balanced assessment of what you stand to win and lose. What you can rely on is that mainstream blackjack strategies have been carefully analysed from the point of view of mathematical probability. This tells us there are three particular game scenarios when doubling down is justified and usually beneficial. And in each one, you won’t go bust and will be in pole position to finish the game with a high-scoring hand. Meanwhile, in statistical terms, the dealer is the one most likely to lose.

1) A hard 9 versus the dealer’s low card hand

When dealt a total score of 9, ask to double down if the dealer shows a card between 2-6 (= any card below 7, but not including an Ace). Note the hand must be a hard 9; which means you are not holding an Ace. So that could be 4-5, 3-6 or 2-7. But if you have a soft 9 (Ace-8), your best strategy is to stand, no matter what the dealer then shows.

2) A soft 16 to 18 versus the dealer’s low card hand

When dealt an Ace plus a 5, 6 or 7, you have a ‘soft’ score of 16 to 18. So if the dealer then draws any card between 2-6, that’s the time to double down your bet. But if you’re dealt an Ace plus a lower card (2 to 4) it’s better then to hit, because you’ll be unlikely to finish with a high-scoring hand.

3) A hard 10 or 11 versus anything lower as a dealer card

A hard 10 or 11 puts you well in control. But only if it’s any two cards, without an Ace. So that could be 2-8, 2-9, 3-7, 3-8, 4-6, 4-7, 5-6, 4-6,4-7, 3-7, 3-8, 2-8, or 2-9. When the dealer’s cards add up to a lower total, you should double down.

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