Pair splitting means you are essentially bringing your strongest cards to the game. It is a unique move that gives you an advantage over the dealer and increases the possibility of winning by double. It has the potential to be an excellent choice that will help you get an edge if you play it correctly. Nevertheless, making the right call is not always a walk in the park.
In blackjack, the ability to split pairs was included as a strategy to reduce the advantage enjoyed by the house. Regrettably, many players have a habit of splitting pairs in blackjack without giving any mathematical consideration to the implications of doing so.
How Pair Splitting Works
The whole maneuver is known as pair splitting, which is permitted if your first two cards create a pair. If you choose to split a hand, you must always do so before striking or deciding to double down. Also, the option will only be offered when you are given two identical cards.
If you were given 4 – 4, for example, you have the option of playing the hand as an eight-valued hand or splitting it into two four-valued hands. If you opt to split, you must deposit an additional wager of the same size as your initial wager so that both hands have an equal stake.
Blackjack Basic Strategy For Splitting
It is important to note that this strategy does not guarantee a 100% chance of winning, but in the long run, your chances of losing will reduce.
1. When to Split in Blackjack
These are the basic rules related to splitting.
Holding a pair of eights equals 16. If the dealer stands on 16, the best possible scenario for you is a push (a tie — you will get your money back). In such a scenario, it is highly recommended that you split pairs and play two eights separately.
Aces are worth 1 or 11 in blackjack. In the same vein, a pair of aces can be 2 or 12. This makes them perfect for splitting.
If you hit a picture card in either hand after a split, you’ll get a blackjack immediately. Therefore, you should split your aces every time you get them without overthinking.
Splitting in blackjack increases your chances of success with this card holding. Following this strategy means that out of every 100 hands, you win 38 and lose the remaining 62.
2. When You Should Not Split in Blackjack
These are the scenarios when you should not split.
A pair of fours is worth 8, and if you have these cards, the best thing to do is hit since you’re very likely to get to 18, which is an excellent hand. If you decide to split fours, the best you can get with the second card is 14, which is not a good place to be.
Also, splitting a pair of fives is not a good idea. If you split a 5, the best hand you can get is 15, which does not augur well. On the other hand, if you can double down, consider it.
If you have two nines, you already have 18, which is an exquisite hand in blackjack. After splitting nines, you will need a ten or an ace to make a better hand, which may not be likely. So, it would be best if you didn’t decide to split nines since that’s statistically the worst thing you can do.
A pair of tens is worth 20 points, which is one point less than blackjack. If you split tens, you need an ace to improve your hand. If you do not, you will get 20 points or less.
PS: Sometimes you should split a ten, but only if the dealer has a very low card.
3. When Splitting Relies on the Upcard of the Dealer
- You have twos, threes, or sevens, and the dealer’s upcard is between two and seven. This trio of blackjack hands is typically considered to be terrible. All have the potential to fail in one or two hits. Split them. Probability suggests that your situation is more likely to get better.
- You wield sixes, and the dealer’s up-card is between two and six. If you divide your sixes, you have a greater chance of defeating a dealer with an up card in this range than if you play them as a single hand. By splitting your sixes, it is possible to get a ten. This puts you in a favorable position versus a dealer who may go bankrupt.
- You hold a pair of nines and the dealer’s up-card is between two and six and eight or nine. It is insane to hit on 18, but it is also a beatable hand, so standing is not an ideal position either. In this case, the percentage call is to split.
Blackjack Split Rules
Check the regulations of the blackjack variation you’re playing, as well as any variations at the land-based or online casino where you’re playing.
Even split rules are susceptible to this uncertainty. Here are a few to verify before playing:
Some casinos only permit the splitting of identical ten-value cards.
It is acceptable to split a 10-10 hand, but not a Jack-Queen hand, for example.
After the first split, doubling down and splitting further hands may be restricted.
After the first split, an ace and ten-card combination may be considered a non-blackjack 21.
After splitting aces, it is often prohibited to strike again.
Rare Pair Splitting Rule Variations
In addition to the rule changes described above, there are more intriguing splitting variations. Even though they are uncommon, you may encounter a blackjack table with them and be persuaded to give them a try. Therefore, we will quickly discuss each of them in the following paragraphs.
- Some casinos do not let blackjack players split aces when they are dealt two. From the players’ standpoint, this is an unfavorable scenario.
- After dividing aces, one card is typically handed to each divided hand. However, this regulation permits players to gain from an increased number of draws.
- Discard Split. As its name implies, discard split gives players the option to discard their hands after splitting.
- No 4-, 5-, or 10-pair splits — a UK regulation prohibits blackjack players from splitting a pair of 4, 5, or 10.
Pros of Pair Splitting
These are some of the notable advantages of pair splitting:
It Reduces Losses
Splitting boosts winnings and minimizes losses from negative expected value bets. If the dealer starts with a deuce and you bet $10 but are dealt a pair of sevens, you lose. It’s likely to bust. Splitting lets you start each hand with a seven instead of a fourteen, increasing your chances of winning.
It Boosts Earnings
First, assume you’re dealt a pair of 9s against a dealer holding a 6 at a table with numerous decks, where the dealer must stand on soft 17, and you may split into four hands. Standing on 18 will win 64 of 100 hands and lose 36 on average.
Cons of Splitting Pairs
Here are some of the drawbacks of splitting pairs in blackjack:
Losses Can be Doubled
When splitting blackjack cards, risk and return must be weighed. Splitting a hand may double your winnings, but it can also double your losses. It is recommended that you do not divide every pair because of the danger. Choose carefully. Don’t split if you’re hesitant; no one will judge you.
Tactics Do Not Guarantee Win
Even if you play correctly and pay to split, the dealer may still win. This is part of the game, and you must acknowledge your choice was correct. Don’t become irritated since that might influence your table judgment.
Now that you have a theoretical foundation, you should look for a blackjack game that you like playing and that allows you to practice a variety of splitting techniques.
This will help you put your newfound knowledge into practice. Naturally, before playing your first hand, you should educate yourself on the split rules associated with the game you have chosen to play and the game etiquette, of course.
Pair Splitting FAQs:
How do I signal a split?
To signal a split, you can point at your bet with two fingers or push out an equal amount of chips to your first wager. The dealer will know your intentions.
Can the dealer split?
No, the dealer follows a very restricted set of regulations. Based on the strength of their hand, they can either strike or stand. The dealer cannot double down or split; therefore, when dealt 9-9 or 10-10, they will stand.
In blackjack, what is the best pair to split?
How profitable a split pair is based on the dealer’s hand. In general, despite receiving only one more card, aces are the most delicate pair to split since you begin each new hand with 11 – the best possible beginning value in blackjack.