Double Down on a 6:5 Blackjack? Read This First…

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Bad Choice

The plague of 6:5 blackjack has been well documented here. (See 6 to 5 Blackjack? Just say No! and The Casino Floor as a Minefield.)

If you have any other game choices available, you should not be playing a game that pays only 6:5 on blackjack.

Yet some players do play these games. Don’t worry, I’m not going to chastise you if you sometimes play these games. But I do want to make sure that you are not making a bad game even worse…

How to Give Away Money

Several players have told me that when they are playing a 6:5 game and are dealt a blackjack, they choose to double down on the blackjack as an eleven instead. Ack! No. No. No. Let me explain just how bad an idea this is.

Let’s say you are a $10 player, and are dealt a blackjack at a 6:5 game. Assuming that the dealer doesn’t also have a blackjack, you’ll win $12 on the hand. Guaranteed, with no chance of losing money. This hand is worth $12. Period.

If you decide to double down on the blackjack instead, you’re risking another bet with the hope of winning $20 instead of $12. But you’re giving up the guarantee of a win. Let’s see how that works:

A Bird in the Hand

Let’s take the best possible scenario, a single deck game where the dealer stands on all 17s. We are dealt a blackjack against a dealer upcard of 5. If we let the dealer pay the blackjack, we collect our 6:5 guaranteed win of $12. That’s our “bird in the hand”. For doubling to be a better strategy, our yield on the double down needs to average more than $12. And it’s not even close. Let’s look at what happens when we double.

Two in the Bush

Now we are doubling our bet to $20 and drawing one more card. Remember, I chose the best possible hand for this… (Ace,Ten) vs a dealer 5.

This is a very strong double down hand, but even so, it will win only 63% of the time. 7% of the time we will push, and 30% of the time we will lose. (Here’s how to calculate the value if you are interested: (63% – 30%) X $20 = $6.60. Actually, I rounded off the percentages a bit so the exact answer is slightly different…)

The value of this doubled bet of $20 works out to just $6.82. That’s only a little over HALF the value of the 6:5 blackjack.

In this case, A Bird in the Hand is definitely worth more than Two in the Bush. Every time a $10 bettor chooses to double down on his blackjack, he’s giving the casino an extra five bucks and change. Don’t do it!

6:5 Blackjack sucks. Don’t make it even worse. Do Not Double Down on Blackjack!

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Kairo
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Kairo

Palace Station has many 6-5 tables now and the 3:2 tables are sometimes full. So I played their 6:5 game for the first time with the tie side bet (half of main bet, pays 10:1 on push). Unless my math is horrible, one should actually double on blackjack for some dealer up cards (if not all?). So using your math, with a dealer up card of 5, the $50 pay out on a tie 7% of the time would add $3.50 to the $6.82. If you take the 6:5 blackjack you only get $7 because you lose the tie side… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

I am a dealer on a strip casino and of you have a blackjack or …soft 11….and the dealer has a 5 or 6 showing you ALWAYS DOUBLE DOWN

Sam Tanner
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Sam Tanner

I’ve been playing blackjack for a while and counting for about 5 years. I recently (about a year ago) decided to up my game a bit and learn how and when to deviate from basic strategy as dictated by the count. I believe it’s Stanford Wong’s book that said that although there are about 50 variations from basic strategy the only 3 of any importance and significance in winning are: (1) taking insurance when the count is +3 or more; (2) stay on 16 vs. dealer 10 when the count is 0 or higher and (3) stay on 15 vs.… Read more »

Jewell Ledwell
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Jewell Ledwell

I just started blackjack in casinos last week. Thanks for all the tips.