An In-Depth Look at Double Up

An In-Depth Look at Double Up

April 12, 2011.

Casinos are always looking for a way to spice up their games to compete with their rivals. Lately, more and more are implementing "double up" or "gamble" features in their games. This mini-game was first put into video pokers. With it, players can instantly win double their win or lose it all. The idea skyrocketed in popularity, and it is now difficult to find a video poker game that doesn't have some kind of double up feature. Plenty of casinos, both online and land-based, are also implementing a double up feature in their slot games, as well.

This double up craze leaves some questions in the mind of many gamblers. What are the odds of double up? Is it a good bet? Why do casinos love to put this feature in their games? Hopefully this article will clear up any questions or concerns you have.

The Different Types of Double Up

In most cases, a double up game can be activated after hitting a win on a video poker game or some slot games. After getting a win, a button that says Double or Gamble might flash on the bottom of the screen. By hitting it, players will most likely be faced with some kind of card game. In video poker, the most common double up game is one in which a card is shown, and then four face-down cards are available to select. Players must typically select a card that is of larger value than the one shown.

Other variants may have some just a single card, and players must determine whether it is small or large, or red or black. Some games even let players guess the suit, making it a "quadruple up" game.

Some of the more advanced slot games with double up may have a gamble feature that is unique to the game. A slot with a racing theme, for instance, may have players predict which of two cars will cross the finish line first. The versatility of double up is one of the factors for its success.

The House Edge of Double Up

Many players wonder about the odds of the gamble feature. After all, casinos are in the business to make money, and they would be stupid to offer bets that don't give themselves an edge. However, double up is one of the very few instances that don't make the casinos any direct profit. Yes, double up has absolutely no house edge.

Take the first double up example given, for instance. A card will be shown whose value can be anywhere from 2 (low) to A (high): a total of 13 cards. The average card value will be 7.5. As long as choosing a tied card results in a push, there is a 50% chance of choosing a smaller card and a 50% chance of choosing a higher card in the long run.

While double up itself has no house edge, it's important to remember that in order to get it, you have to play some game that does have an edge. Double up, by most standards, does not reduce this edge. Suppose two players decide to play 100 hands of 9/6 Jacks or Better video poker. One chooses to double up after every win, and one chooses not to. They will both face the same edge of 99.54%.

However, double up can considerably reduce the edge per unit wagered. A player who bets $100 on 9/6 Jacks or Better without doubling up can expect to lose $0.46. A player who bets $100 on the same game and doubles up at every opportunity will lose much less. This is because the latter player is betting most of his $100 in the double up game. However, the latter player will also have much less play time. Since most players measure their gambling by how long they spend doing it, not by how much they wager, this is a mostly meaningless point.

Why Do Casinos Offer Double Up?

The only remaining question is, "If double up has no house edge, why would casinos bother to offer it?" The reason lies within the fact that, as stated above, double up reduces play time. Players who get carried away with double up are facing a bet with much higher volatility, and they are more likely to bust out early, usually much earlier than they intended to. In order to get more game time, players will deposit additional money into the game - more than they originally set out to do. While double up does not offer the casinos a larger slice of the bets, it does entice players to bet more.

While double up is a smart bet, realize how dangerous it can be before taking it. Gamblers should always gamble for entertainment, and regularly doubling up can greatly reduce this entertainment time, as well as pave the way for bankroll management problems. Before doubling up, players should always give it some thought and never bet more than they are comfortable with.