Players who have just started tend to misplay each pair that comes their way, splitting every single available. Some pairs can give you an advantage, while others will make you lose twice your stake.
Below are the pairs to split and stand and a detailed explanation for each action.
Pairs To Split
Aces are the most valuable card in blackjack that can count as a 1 or 11. Splitting them will grant you two soft hands to get a better edge against the house.
A soft hand consists of an ace card, which can act as a buffer for your hand. This buffer is relevant since a soft hand will never go bust upon your first draw, giving you an advantage over the dealer if you aim to improve your hand score. Let us say you have anfor a hand value of soft 16, drawing a will result in a hand value of 19.
Another reason the blackjack basic strategy on splitting recommends cutting aces is the chance to form a natural blackjack, a unique hand you can form with an ace and ten or face card. You automatically win your hand when you draw a natural blackjack and will get a 3:2 payout on your stake. The only way you cannot win in this situation is when the dealer is also holding a natural blackjack, which will end in a push if both of you have the same hand.
Splitting aces doubles your chances of forming a natural blackjack within the same turn. Otherwise, you will still get one or two soft hands that will grant you an edge over the dealer. Both of these reasons are why you should always split ace pairs.
You should split eight due to the value of its pair, which is 16. A pair of eight has low blackjack odds of winning, especially when the dealer has a revealed card of 7 or higher.
Splitting an eight gives you a chance to draw a ten or face card, which will give you a hard 18. An 18 is a good hand to stand on instead of a 16 since this can beat a 17. You can also draw an ace to form a soft 19, giving you a substantial advantage over the dealer.
One solid opportunity when splitting an eight is a chance to draw a 2 or 3 card to get a hand value of 10 or 11. You can double down on 10 or 11 hands for a chance to get a 20 or 21. Doubling down allows you to double your stake and draw only one card.
Pairs Not To Split
Below are the pairs to not split in blackjack for the following reasons.
Kings, Queens, Jacks, & Tens
One of the worst options you can do with a pair of tens cards (including face cards) is to split them. Splitting tens will have you playing two hard hands, which is the opposite of splitting aces. The second worst option is hitting with a pair of ten in hopes of getting an ace.
Hard hands have a 10 card and a non-ace card. Most misplayed blackjack hands usually consist of hard hands, such as 15 and 16. What makes these hands challenging to play with is the chance of going bust in just the first draw. This risk comes from the numerous ten cards in each deck since there are 20 of them among the 52 cards. Even if you have a 12, you still risk drawing a ten and losing by having a hand value of 22. The only viable option for many hard hands is to surrender where you concede the game and receive half your stake.
Splitting tens will double your losses since you are always at a disadvantage while holding hard hands, no matter the dealer’s revealed card. The only time to consider splittingor face cards is when you anticipate cards with a low value to be drawn within the next turn, which is possible if you use a card-counting strategy.
The best option when holding a pair of tens is to stand since the cards have twenty values. Even if the dealer has a revealed card of nine or ten, a twenty hand has a meager chance of losing since the dealer needs to have a 21 to win. Even if the dealer can get a 20, this will result in a push where you will not lose your stake.
Splitting fives should also be avoided due to the hands they tend to form. The highest possible value you can get with a five, excluding soft hands, is 15. Hard 15 is a challenging scenario to win from since drawing anything higher than five results in a bust.
The best scenario for splitting fives is to get another five or six, resulting in a 10 or 11 hand.or 11s are always great for doubling down. However, your chance of getting a five, six, or even an ace is slim.
Instead of splitting fives, it is much better to double down with this pair since it is already a ten-hand. You have better blackjack odds of winning by keeping the pair intact since splitting them can result in two losing hands. Remember that you should only do this if the dealer does not have a ten or an ace revealed card.
Other Pairs To Split According To Blackjack Strategy
Pair splitting is an integral part of the blackjack basic strategy since it lets you take advantage of situations with an edge over the house. At the same time, splitting the wrong hands reverses the advantage of the house. This is why we provided two hands you should split and avoid splitting.
How should you treat other blackjack pairs? Most pairs that are not tens or fives can still give you an advantage when you split them. However, this only occurs if the dealer has a revealed card of 7 or lower. To give you an upper hand, you can use our blackjack chart generator to know which pairs to split in blackjack scenarios.
Aces and eight pairs give you an advantage when splitting them, while tens and fives will decrease your edge against the house, following a basic strategy can help you know which pairs to split in specific scenarios.
This article was published on December 3, 2022, and last updated on November 22, 2022.