How to recognize when to split pairs in blackjack

How to recognize when to split pairs in blackjack

How to recognize when to split pairs in blackjack

In most versions of Blackjack, once you are dealt a pair (two of an equivalent card), you’ve got the choice to separate them into two new hands. You are dealt two more cards (one for each new hand) and your bet is doubled, you can play each hand normally – you get two chances to beat the dealer (or lose). Furthermore, knowing when to split pairs in blackjack is vital for high-level play. Best of all, since there’re only ten card values, it’s not difficult to memorize what to do in every single situation. In addition, online casinos in Malaysia such as scr888 can be a great place for you to test out your blackjack skills. 


When do you always split

  • Always split aces

There are a few scenarios in blackjack when it always makes sense to split, no matter what card the dealer is showing. As an example, you must always split when you get a pair of aces. Splitting provides you a much better chance to get a strong head.

  • If you play your two aces as one hand, you’ll begin with a value of 12 (one is played as an 11 and the other as a one). Only nine will give you 21. A number 10 or face card will force you to play the second ace with a value of one, bringing you back to 12.
  • On the other hand, if you choose to split, you have four ways to get a 21 in either hand (being dealt a 10, J, Q, or K).


  • Always split eights

Besides aces, the other pair that just about every Blackjack expert will tell you to split on is eights. As it’s difficult to get a good hand when you play your eights as one hand. Your probabilities aren’t fantastic when you play them separately, but you do stand a stronger probability mathematically.

  • When you play two eights as one hand it starts you at 16 (a very weak hand). Hitting at this point is a risky proposition. Furthermore, anything above 5 will cause you to bust, so you have about a 60% chance of losing the hand from the get-go.
  • On the other hand, if you split, it’s impossible to bust out your first hit, so you at least have a chance of getting a more favorable hand.


  • Always re-split aces or eights if you’re dealt a second pair

Besides, when you split, the dealer gives you two cards – one for each of the new hands. If this gives you a second pair of aces or eights, treat it as its hand and split again.

  • Note that it needs you to triple your original bet (splitting the first time requires you to double it).
  • House rules might vary here. Most blackjack games will permit you to split a maximum of three times (to play a total of four hands)


When you should never split

  • Never split tens

This is a common rookie mistake in Blackjack. Splitting 10s basically sacrifice a great hand for a very slim opportunity at an even better one.

  • If you play a pair of 10s, your hand will have a value of 20, which is quite good. If you split 10s, you need to get an ace to improve your stance – anything else will give a hand that has an equal or lesser value. Accurately speaking, splitting tens is most likely to give you two hands worse than the first one.
  • Some card-counting specialists suggest splitting 10s in very specific situations. For example: if you’re counting cards and knows that there’re lots of 10s left in the shoe, it makes sense to split 10s against a dealer showing 5 or 6 (which suggests a weak hand). This way, you stand a more average chance of getting at least one 20, while the dealer will have to get lucky to match or beat you.


  • Never split fours

Splitting a pair of fours gives you two weak hands, so it makes no sense. Remember that when you split it requires you to double your original wager – this also means that splitting fours are usually more of a money-losing proposition.

  • When you hit on a pair of fours, it’s hopeless to bust out – the highest you can go is 19 if you get an ace, which is a pretty decent hand. If you split your fours, you’re more likely to get left with a less-valuable hand (if you get a two or three) or a hand that’s possible to bust out on if you hit (if you get an eight or higher). You need to get a five, six, or seven to be better off than what you were original.


  • Never split fives

Whenever you see a pair of 5s, forget that they’re a pair and treat them like a single 10. Double down your bet on a 10 against anything but a dealer’s nine, 10, or ace. For these three possibilities, just hit.

  • Splitting a pair of fives is like splitting fours, but only worse – you give up a strong starting hand for a slim chance of getting something better. With a pair of fives, you can’t bust out and you have a chance of getting 21 on the very first hit. Moreover, if you split, you’ll be left a weaker hand (if you get a two, three, or four) and/or a hand that it’s possible to bust out and if you decided to hit(if you get a six or above). There’s no way to come out ahead by splitting fives.


When splitting it is sometimes a good idea

  • Split twos, threes, or sevens if the dealer gets a seven or lower

The examples in the sections above are hard and fast rules that should hardly (if ever) be broken. For other pairs, the best action usually depends on the card the dealer is showing. As an example, pairs of twos, threes, and sevens should be split when the dealer shows a relatively low card. If the dealer has an eight or better show, just take a hit.

  • Some resources suggest splitting twos and threes (but not sevens) when the dealer shows an eight.


  • Split sixes when the dealer reveals a two through six.

If the dealer features a seven or better, just take a hit. Statistically, you’re more likely to beat the weak dealer hands if you decided to split your sixes. If the dealer is probably going to possess a stronger hand, your best bet is to hit and improve your hand – you’ll only bust out if you get a 10 or face card.


  • Split nines at odds with two through six, eight, and nine.

If the dealer features a seven, ten, or ace showing, don’t hit – instead, stand. Hitting on an 18 is borderline suicidal. Anything aside from a two or three will cause you to bust out.


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