Golden Touch Craps


By Henry Tamburin


Doubling down is a unique playing option because it’s the only time in a casino that you can double your original bet when the odds are in your favor. Depending on the rules, doubling down will get you about one and a quarter percent more money in the long run, so it’s a playing option you can’t afford not to learn.

After you receive your initial two cards, you have the option of doubling down. However, once you decide to draw a third card to your hand, the double down option is no longer available.

If you decide to double down, you initiate the action by placing an equivalent amount of chips next to your original wager on the layout (don’t put the chips on top of your initial wager, a mistake often made by novice players). When you double down, the dealer will give you one, and only one, draw card, and that completes your hand (i.e., you can’t draw again after you double down).

The majority of casinos will allow you to double down on any two initial cards. Some, however, will only allow you to double down when your first two cards total 9, 10, or 11 only. It’s best to play in a casino where they don’t restrict your double down option.

Most players understand the logic for doubling down on a 9-2, a hand that totals 11. However, doubling an Ace-4 against a 5 isn’t so obvious.

The main reason why doubling down on 9, 10, or 11 (hard hands) makes sense is because you have a higher probability of out-drawing the dealer, since by drawing a 10 or picture card, you wind up with a powerful hand of 19 through 21, which will most likely beat the dealer’s hand. The double down option allows you to double your bet (and your profit) at the best possible time – when you have the edge over the dealer on the hand.

The emphasis on doubling down on hands that contain an Ace (i.e., soft hands) is not so much on out-drawing the dealer, but on getting more money on the table when the dealer is most vulnerable to busting. The latter occurs more often when the dealer’s upcard is a small card. Therefore, when you hold a soft hand and the dealer’s upcard is, say, a 6, you can get more money on the table by doubling when the dealer’s chance of busting is relatively high, plus you have no fear of busting your own hand because of the dual role of the Ace. It can count as either an 11 or 1, so no matter what card you draw, you are still in the game.

What is ironic about doubling down is that with some hands, you will actually be reducing your chances of winning the hand, because you get to draw only one card. Say you doubled on 6-3 against a dealer’s 5 and drew a 2 for an 11. The only way you could win the hand is if the dealer busted. If you had not used the double down option, you could have hit your 11 again and improved your chances of winning. Nevertheless, the right play is to double down because of the extra money you put into action. Here is what I mean.

If you hit a 9 against a dealer’s 5 you will win on average 59 percent of the hands and lose 41 percent. If you bet a dollar a hand, this means you’ll win $59 and lose $41 per 100 hands for a net gain of $18. If you double down instead, you’ll win only 57 percent of the hands (that’s 2 percent less than hitting) and lose 43 percent. This means 57 times out of 100 hands you will win $114 (57 times $2 because you doubled), and the 43 hands you lose, you will lose a total of $86 (43 times $2). If you subtract the $86 lost from the $114 won, your net gain over 100 hands when you double is $28, or $10 more than hitting. So monetarily, you make more money when you double even though you win slightly fewer hands. Get it?

There are two mistakes I often see players make when it comes to doubling down (other than the obvious of not knowing when to double down).

Doubling Down for Less

Casinos will allow players to double down for less than the amount of the original wager. However, this is not a wise play, because you will maximize your gains only when you maximize the amount of your double down bet. Therefore, don’t be a wimp and double for less; when the strategy says to double down, always do so for the full amount.

Forgetting to Double After Pair Splitting

In the heat of the battle, some players who split pairs forget that most casinos will allow you to double down after you pair split. For example, suppose you are dealt a pair of 8s against a dealer’s 4 upcard, and you split. The dealer gives you a 3 to your first 8, and your hand totals 11. You should double down for the full amount. Likewise, if the dealer gives you a 2 to the other 8 for a 10, you should push out the chips and double again. Being able to double down on one (or more) split hands is a favorable rule for players, with a gain of about fourteen hundredths of a percent (0.14 %). That might not seem like much, but in the long run, it adds up. So don’t forget this rule, and use it to your benefit!

For a standard 6-deck game, dealer stands on soft 17 (s17), and doubling after pair splitting allowed (DAS), you should double down the following hands against the indicated dealer’s upcard.

Hard 11 against 2 through 10

Hard 10 against 2 through 9

Hard 9 against 3 through 6

Soft Ace-2 and Ace-3 against 5 and 6

Soft Ace-4 and Ace-5 against 4 through 6

Soft Ace-6 and Ace-7 against 3 through 6

If the dealer hits soft 17 (h17), you need to be a little more aggressive and double down on these additional hands:

Hard 11 against Ace

Soft Ace-7 against 2

Soft Ace-8 against a 6

In a double-deck game that offers s17 and das, the double down strategy is the same as the above 6-deck/s17/das game except you should also double these hands:

Hard 9 against 2

Hard 9-2 and 8-3 against Ace

The double down basic strategy for a double-deck game with h17 and das is the same as the above 6-deck /h17/das game except also double:

Hard 9 against 2.

You should not double down on any other hand combination.

You have the edge, and you can win more when you double down. Therefore, be a smart player and take advantage of this favorable rule when you play blackjack.


Henry Tamburin is the author of Blackjack Take The Money & Run, editor of Blackjack Insider Newsletter (, and Lead Instructor for Golden Touch Blackjack Course ( For more information, or to receive his FREE Casino Gambling Catalog, call 1-888-353-3234 or visit