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Best of Alan Krigman

Gaming Guru

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If you don't want to double down at blackjack, can you let someone else do it for you?

23 September 2013

Question: At blackjack, I had an 11 against a dealer's nine. I asked for a hit. Another player inquired "Can I take your double?" The dealer said it was up to me. What was this about?

Answer: Most casinos let you "double down" on any two cards. This involves making an auxiliary bet equal to or less than your first, then drawing one and only one additional card.

Doubling is favorable for certain combinations of player hands and dealer upcards. The net you are "expected" to win, on the average, exceeds that associated with hitting or standing.

If you start with 10 or 11 against a four, five, or six, you'd draw just once, doubling or hitting. This is because the lowest total you could get is 12, on which you'd then stand. Your chance is therefore the same, whether you hit or doubled, only the amounts differ. On all other proper doubles, further hits might be desirable. For instance on your 11 versus nine, pulling a five or less would leave you below 17, hitting again if you could. Doubling in these cases raises your expectation but not by a factor of two, because your bet is more but chances of winning are less.

To answer your question, if you don't want to double yourself, it's OK to let someone else "take it" in cases when you'd draw only one card anyway. The other person gets a favorable bet, and your chance is the same. It's not OK when you might want to draw again, as with 11 versus nine. Here, you cut the odds you'll win without the offsetting prospect of collecting more when you do.
Alan Krigman

Alan Krigman was a weekly syndicated newspaper gaming columnist and Editor & Publisher of Winning Ways, a monthly newsletter for casino aficionados. His columns focused on gambling probability and statistics. He passed away in October, 2013.
Alan Krigman
Alan Krigman was a weekly syndicated newspaper gaming columnist and Editor & Publisher of Winning Ways, a monthly newsletter for casino aficionados. His columns focused on gambling probability and statistics. He passed away in October, 2013.