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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Many Blackjack Players Miss These Double Downs

21 November 2008

Did you know that, in blackjack, you'll win only 44% of all your hands counting hits, stands, splits, doubles and blackjacks? And that's if you play them correctly. However, you make up for most of that deficit by being paid 3-to-2 on your blackjacks –- and -- by doubling down on your strong drawing hands.

Getting the 3-to-2 bonus on blackjack is a no-brainer -– any moron could do that. Doubling down is the part you, as a player, need to focus on because you'll win 58% of those if you double correctly. And you need that extra percentage to bring the game close to 50-50.

The sad part is, most players don't double down with many hands that they should, and their game suffers as a result. Day in, day out, I see the following doubles passed up by your typical blackjack player. The percentage next to the hand is how often you'll win it when you double.

11 against a 10  54%
10 against a 9  54%
10 against a 8  57%
9 against a 4  55%
9 against a 3  53%
A/7 against a 3  54%
A/7 against a 4  56%
A/7 against a 5  58%
A/7 against a 6  60%

So which of these missed doubles do you think would cost you the most? It's not the one with the highest win percentage. No, it's the one that comes up the most often. Notice that 11 against a 10 can come against four different dealer up-cards (10, Jack, Queen or King). Not only that, but there are four ways to be dealt an 11 (6/5, 7/4, 8/3 and 9/2). Add them all together, and 11 against a 10 comes up 16 times as often as a hand like A/7 against a 6. That's the one you absolutely, positively cannot afford to wimp out on.

Now, if you're going to win 58% of all your double downs, how come most of the hands in the above list are under 58%? That's because nobody passes up the really obvious doubles, like 11 against a 6. You'll win that one 67% of the time. No, it's the testy ones that players get too cautious with, particularly when they already have a completed hand like A/7.

But let me tell you this. When you finally do get that A/7 against a 6, if you don't pull the trigger and double with it, you'll be giving up way too much percentage. Forget about the fact that you already have 18. You've gotta' make up for the fact that you're going to lose more hands than you can win overall. When you've got the dealer backpedaling, double down.

Bad Doubles: Players sometimes go the other way too, by doubling down when they shouldn't. The most common occurrence of this is with soft hands.

Typical players don't realize that very low soft hands, like A/2 or A/3, will often need multiple hits to make a completed hand. Doubling with these hurts their win percentage too much -– unless they're against a dealer's 5 or 6 up. Then they've got a big enough back door to sneak through when they make a bad hand with their double, which they usually will. The rule of thumb to remember is that very low soft hands against very low dealer up-cards make for bad doubles. Don't fall into that trap.

Borderline Doubles: Some hands are good doubles or not-so-good doubles depending upon the rules. Eleven against an Ace and A/8 against a 6 are two such hands. If the dealer hits on soft 17, you should double with both of these, but not if she stands.

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

> More Books By Fred Renzey

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey