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Double Up Blackjack

In the continuing craze to create new table games, blackjack derivatives seem to be very popular, but for every game like Pontoon or Spanish 21 that is very popular, there are several that fall to the wayside. Two new games using the words Double Up are now found at several brick and mortar casinos and online websites.

The first, Double Up Blackjack, is played with a regular deck of 52 cards. No jokers or wild cards are in use, and the standard rules of blackjack apply with just three exceptions. Each casino decides on their own about double down and split rules. If you have ever looked at your first two cards and wished you had bet more, this game is just for you.

To play, each gambler makes their wager and the dealer deals out the cards. One of the dealer cards is exposed. If the player likes their hand they can Double Up by making a new wager the size of their original bet. This is before splitting any pairs or doubling down. Players may not Double Up on a blackjack.

What’s the catch? To start with, if the player wins the hand they are paid on their regular wager and on the Double Up wager. That’s great. If they lose, they lose them both. Accepted. However, if they push with the dealer, their regular wager is a push, but they lose the Double Up bet.

In addition, there is one other special rule: Push 16. After all players have finished their hands, the dealer turns over their down-card. If at any time the dealer’s point-total is 16 (hard hand, soft hand) then the Push 16 Rule applies and all player wagers become a push except for hand totals of 21, which pay even money. So if you hit-out to 20 but the dealer has a 5 showing and turns over an ace, their soft 16 makes your hand a push.

How often with this happen? Often enough to drive you a bit crazy. The Double Up feature is nice when you are catching great starting hands like 10, 11 and 20, but when you seem to be catching two baby cards and need to hit each hand, you won’t be using the feature and can still see the hands you improve turn into pushes against a dealer 16.

Overall the house edge is too high to play this game regularly when standard blackjack is available, but it might be fun to play a bit when you can use your card counting skills and see where it goes.

Double Up

Another similarly named game that is found in some casinos now is called Double Up. It is also played with a regular deck of 52-cards, no jokers or wild cards, but it isn’t really a blackjack game.  The playing cards hold their pip-value, so a 2 is two points, a 7 is seven points, but aces count only as 1. In a manner similar to Trente et Quarante (Thirty and Forty), the object of the game is to make a four-card total of under 20 or over 30.

How to Play Double Up

Players make an Ante wager and the dealer places three community cards face-up on the layout. All players will use these three cards. Players must look at the cards and decide whether to stand, and wait for the fourth card or to double their wager by making a Double Up bet equal to their Ante wager.

Remember, you want to end with a hand of under 20, or over 30, so if the first three cards are all 10’s, you already have 30 and you can’t lose – so you make the Double Up wager! If the three cards totaled 9 or less, you would also have a guaranteed winner, because even if the next card was a 10, the total would still be under 20. The trick comes with other decisions, which will have a large impact on the house edged, just as it does for players who ignore the importance of basic strategy at blackjack.

Simply put, you’ll want to double your wager when you have the best chance to win, so you need to count the possible cards that can help, and those that will hurt. If you have a total of 12, such as a 3-4-5, you’ll want to double because the cards that will make you a winner include aces through 7 (7 cards) and the cards that will hurt are 8-9-10-J-Q-K (6 cards). You get paid even money and have a 7-6 edge.

Always Double Up when the total is 12 or under.

Always avoid the Double Up wager when the first three cards total 13 to 23.

Always Double Up when the total is 24 or more.

Playing by these simple rules will leave the house with an edge of 2.77% That’s significantly steeper than blackjack, so keep the edge and your bankroll in mind when playing Double Up.

Side Wager – Odds

Double Up offers a side bet where you simply choose the fourth card’s color (think red or black). The wager pays even money and the house has no edge. As with no-house edge odds at craps, by always placing this wager (on one color or the other) you reduce your overall risk, in this case, to 1.59%. Again, as with craps, it’s up to you to decide whether there is any advantage to making this bet.

From the bankroll and risk side, this reduction in overall odds is only a reflection of wagering a larger amount of money and won’t have any impact except during streaks of good or bad hands. At craps, since the odds always pay more than even-money, the impact can be much more significant during a winning streak. Don’t expect this to happen at Double Up – it’s just a chance to make a bet where the house has no edge.


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