When To Split Pairs In Blackjack
Blackjack is the most popular table game in the United States, and it’s not hard to see why: most casinos only have a house edge of one percent. That means your odds of winning in Blackjack are higher than in any other casino table game.
Part of your advantage is that you’re only playing against one opponent: the dealer. The real appeal of Blackjack is the ability to employ time-tested strategies to increase your chances of beating the house. Knowing when to stand, when to hit, and when to split pairs can help you walk away a winner.
Why Do Players Split Pairs in Blackjack?
The goal of Blackjack is simple: to beat the dealer’s hand by getting as close to 21 as possible without going over. At the beginning of a hand, each player is dealt a pair of cards. If the two cards are identical, the player then has the option of splitting the pair into two separate hands – effectively doubling the chances of beating the dealer.
While it may initially seem like a no-brainer to split every pair of identical cards you’re dealt, that’s not always the best strategy.
Experienced Blackjack players have compiled split charts to help you decide when splitting will work to your advantage, and when keeping a single hand will increase your odds of a win.
When to Split Your Cards
There are two scenarios where splitting your cards is always the best strategy, no matter what the dealer is showing. The golden rule is: Always split aces and eights.
A pair of aces starts you out with either a two or a soft 12 – meaning there’s only one chance to get to 21 with a single hit: nine. By splitting them, you quadruple your chances of hitting 21 – since either a 10, Jack, Queen, or King will get you to the magic number.
When you start with a pair of eights, you have a total of 16. Only a five will get you to 21; anything higher, and you’ll bust. Split your eights, and it’s mathematically impossible to bust on your first hit.
When Not to Split Your Cards
Just like there’s a golden rule for splitting, there’s also a golden rule for not splitting: Never split fives or tens.
A pair of fives give you a total of ten. In Blackjack strategy, that’s a strong starting hand, since you’ll never bust on your first hit – and you could reach 21, if you get an ace. If you split them, though, you’re forfeiting that strong hand for two much weaker ones.
You don’t want to split tens for the exact same reason. 20 is a strong hand in itself – in fact, a Blackjack strategy chart will tell you to stand. Splitting them up increases your chances for a bust or for a much weaker hand, since the only way you’ll get to 21 on one hit is with an ace.
Blackjack Strategy Charts
While these two golden rules are basic Blackjack strategy, a Blackjack split chart contains rules for splitting every possible pair you could get. The next time you head out to a Blackjack casino, take the time to memorize a split chart before you go. Knowing them by heart gives you a statistical advantage, which will help to increase your odds of winning big.
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Disclaimer—This text is purely a perspective based on research using the following resources: