on Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Blackjack basic strategy includes a number of decisions that can give a player second and third thoughts.
One of those comes when you have a two-card 11 and the dealer has a 10-value card face up. Basic strategy calls for you to double down -- you make a second bet equal to your first, then get just one more card on the draw.
That second bet against a strong dealer card is what gives players pause. One reader emailed me to ask, "Why should I double down on 11 when the dealer has a 10 up? It seems to me the dealer is trending to a really good hand, with a 20 likely and possibly a blackjack. This seems like spitting into the wind."
The potential dealer blackjack is not a factor in your hit/stand decision. At nearly all U. S. tables, the dealer will check for blackjack. If he has an Ace down, that stops the hand and you never get a chance to make your second bet.
That leaves 12 other card denominations, four of which are 10 values that give the dealer a 20. If the down card is 7, 8 or 9, the dealer has a lesser standing hand, and if its 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6, the dealer must take a second hit and could bust.
When all that is taken into account, your average profit per hand is larger if double than if you stand. Exact figures vary slightly depending on the composition of the hand. If you stand in a six-deck game, average profits are 11.86 cents per dollar wagered if you have 6-5, 11.79 with 7-4, 17.79 with 8-3, or 11.70 with 9-2. If you double, average profits are 17.85 cents per dollar of your original wager if you have 6-5, 17.84 with 7-4, 17.69 with 8-3 or 17.39 with 9-2.
When you double down, you risk losing double your original bet, but with 11 vs. 10, you win double your bet more often, giving you a higher average profit.