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Beyond these basic rules, however, the strategy behind doubling down gets complicated. Many players in today’s casinos jump at the chance to double down when their first two cards equal 9 and the dealer is showing anything except a 10. According to odds experts all over the world, unless you’re playing single- or double-deck, this strategy will cost you serious cash over time. (In those games, it’s only a good idea to double on a 9 against a dealer’s 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6.) Some players also will opt not to double when they receive two 5s against a dealer’s 5 or 6 — instead, they’ll split ’em and play the cards as separate hands. This, too, is an error. As tempting as it might be to split your 5s, the rule is to treat them like any old 10 and double. The way I see it, this is a classic case of not being able blackjack rules to see the forest through the trees. The bottom line: Doubling down is a great strategy, but legitimate opportunities to do it are not as common as one might think. Pick your spots poorly and you’ll go home a loser. Choose wisely and you have a better chance of coming out ahead. Matt Villano is a writer in Healdsburg.
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