Hello all, new ploppy here in the forum and in the game. I just recently memorized basic strategy and have been pondering why people double down. For example, you bet $25, you can double down your 5,6 and probably win $50, BUT…you can very easily lose $50 because you can get a 2 and be stuck in the mud with a 13, whereas if you just were not greedy and hit the 5,6 instead, you’d be able to hit again (and again) and perhaps win $25 instead of losing $50, or should you bust, you would only lose the $25 instead of losing $50. Basic strategy is what would give you the best odds of winning the hand, right? If basic strategy is not contingent on the amount you bet, what strategic playing advantage would doubling down give you? Wouldn’t I win more hands by hitting instead of doubling? If we were just playing for fun, no cash, (paper and pencil….you get a check mark next to your name for winning your hand) who would limit themselves to just one extra card as doubling down does?
Well, you’re the first new person to call themselves a ploppy, so you can’t be that new.
But assuming you are a rookie, I’ll give a basic answer. Basic strategy is the best way to win long term. Maybe not this hand, or the next, but over thousands of hands the basic strategy play will win more.
On some hands, basic strategy also means you lose less, for example 16 v 10. You will lose less if you hit a 16 vs standing on it, but in both cases it is a negative expectation (i.e., you expect to lose) your hand.
But back to the doubling…there are more 10s in the deck than other cards, so the PROBABILITY of catching a 10 on a double is better than catching a 3. In a single deck game, there are 16 10s and only 4 3s.
Here is where card counting and basic strategy come together. If you knew there were ONLY face cards left in the deck, would you double? Of course. Now it’s never that exact, but you can know what percent of cards remaining in the deck are face cards, so sometimes you chose to forgo a double if they are lacking, or you may double more aggressively if they are in surplus.
Basic strategy assumes all of these deck compositions, and gives you one best way to play each hand.
Now blackjack is never played for funnies. The core of the game involves money, so realistically if you lose 99 hands at $1 per hand, but win one hand at $100, you come out up $1. The casino always has the edge, so the few times you DO have the advantage you want to bet more, to at least cover those losing bets. That’s where doubling comes into play. It isn’t being greedy, per se, but rather its more like evening the odds.
So if BS says to double, and you aren’t counting, you should double.