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Blackjack Insider Newsletter, Oct. 2003, #45

Doubling for less... a tournament strategy

Blackjack Info

Kenneth Smith hosts the popular blackjack website, and regularly writes tournament articles for Blackjack Confidential magazine. You can subscribe to his monthly email newsletter at

In casino blackjack, the rules for doubling and splitting have one key difference. While both of these rules allow a player to increase his wager after the initial cards are dealt, splitting specifically requires the player to match the original bet amount with an equal wager on the second hand, while doubling down has no such restriction. The casino will gladly allow you to "double for less", by adding an amount less than the original bet in return for drawing only one additional card. Thatís not surprising, since doubling for less is never the correct strategy for a player at a regular game. If it is advantageous to double, itís best to get as much money on the table as possible. Remember that youíre also giving up the ability to draw more than one card to your hand.

While doubling for less is always a mistake in a live game, tournament play is different. In fact, when used properly, doubling for less is a powerful technique for getting an extra edge over your opponents. In this monthís column, weíll look at two examples when itís appropriate.

In a prior article, I discuss the importance of position in tournament play, and note that players to your left are a bigger threat than players to your right. The reason is simple. On most hands, the players to your left get to see your bet and playing decisions before they make their own decisions. As a result, having a second opportunity to change the amount of your wager can be valuable. That means doubling and splitting are more useful than in regular table play.

Example 1: Stealing a shot at the lead

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