The Fundamental Concepts Behind the Double Option in BlackjackBy: Fabian Rictor, Thursday May 8th 2014
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While hitting and standing are the two fundamental choices that you have to make in blackjack, doubling is the first of the atypical plays that people learn about. The idea is to take on a single hit while doubling the size of your payout. There are some interesting dynamics that can happen in the practical sense when it comes to doubling, and this can give you some insight on how to figure out exactly when you should be doubling and how to figure out what it takes to avoid the traps that some people fall in by doubling too often.
In any given situation, you will either have an advantage or disadvantage that can be expressed as a percentage of your bet. For example, if you have a $3 bet size with a 5 percent advantage, your advantage in dollar amounts in $0.15. If you double your bet size, you effectively double your total advantage in dollar amounts. However, the same can be said about the cases where you are at a disadvantage. If you double in a situation that doesn't call for it, then you're essentially setting your money on fire.
In any situation, if you are able to hit exactly once and maintain an advantage over the dealer, then you should double unless splitting gives you an even bigger advantage (which very rarely happens ever). There are two basic pieces of information that will tell you whether or not you have the advantage. The first piece of information is the card that the dealer has up, and the second piece of information is your cards that you hold. All you have to do on a fundamental level is use these two pieces of information to decide if hitting exactly once is a profitable idea or not. If it is, then you double.
This sounds so simple because it is. If you have a hard total of 11, for example, then you're in an extremely advantageous position, and that's why you almost always double. However, if you have a soft 14, then while you have a strong hand, you aren't necessarily going to have an advantage if you hit exactly once. This is why you only double with a soft 14 when you're up against the weakest dealer cards like four, five and six. Overall, using this fundamental approach to doubling will help you to avoid costly mistakes.
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