How To Split Pairs In Blackjack

Understanding Blackjack Strategy: How To Know When To Split Pairs In Blackjack

4 min

There’s no argument that blackjack is a popular casino card game which many Irish players love. It’s also super simple to play. The primary goal of blackjack is to defeat the dealer by getting a total hand value as close to 21 as possible without going over. Although the cards are dealt randomly, winning also depends on developing a strategy to give you an edge over the dealer. 

One such blackjack basic strategy involves pair splitting when a player is dealt a pair of cards of the same value. Learning the strategy charts before playing blackjack is one good way to know when to split your pairs. This article explores the house rules covering a blackjack split to help you identify when it’s in your best interest to split and when making other moves besides splitting can be the better strategy.

Be sure that you first know all the rules of blackjack before reading this strategy article so that you will be able to better understand how to apply them.

Splitting Strategy: Reasons To Split In Blackjack

In most casino blackjack variations, when players are dealt two pairs with the same value, there is an option to split the pair. Doing so means requesting an additional card each to get two separate hands. For each new hand, the bet gets doubled, and players now have two more chances to beat the dealer.

Keep in mind that before knowing the splitting strategy, you should know the difference between 3:2 blackjack and 6:5 blackjack.

Knowing when it makes sense to split in blackjack will help you improve the overall quality of play. So, let’s look at some critical moments when you should go for the option. Note that following these strategies does not necessarily mean you’ll win every time, but there’s a higher possibility of winning in the long run.

Splitting Strategy Reasons To Split In Blackjack

Always Split Aces

An ace is the only card in the deck with two different values due to the unique flexibility of being counted as 1 or 11 points. Since cards with a value of 10 are more in the deck, splitting a pair of aces gives you two chances to hit 21. If you choose not to split your ace, the house edge increases, and you’re likely to lose the hand because drawing a ten will bring the value of your hand to 12, as both aces will be counted as one each.

Always Split a Pair of 8s

Splitting when you get a pair of eights is simply the logical thing to do, as not splitting leaves you with a risky hand worth 16 points. With this total card value, there isn’t much you can do to keep yourself from going bust. If, for any reason, you still decide to hit and take a third card, the risk of your blackjack hand going over 21 is very high.

Basic Strategy for Splitting: When Blackjack Players Should Not Split Hands

We know by now that splitting can help lower the house edge in the game of blackjack, and many players would always take that route to improve their gameplay. Nevertheless, some instances require you to do the opposite, especially when given blackjack cards with values of 2 through 7. Here are some of the cards you should never split in blackjack:

Basic Strategy for Splitting When Blackjack Players Should Not Split Hands

  1. Tens

While it’s advisable to split ace, you must never split 10s as it can be counterproductive to your hand. A pair of 10s equals a score of 20, which is a strong hand. The possibility you’ll have better odds with an extra card after splitting tens is unlikely.

  1. A pair of 4s

When you have a pair of fours, it is impossible to go over 21 with the next hit. The most you can get from receiving an extra two cards is a total value of 19. Assuming you still make the decision to split, only three cards from the deck can make your current hand better than the original split pair.

  1. A pair of 5s

Splitting 5s is never a good idea, regardless of the deck of cards you’re playing against or what total the dealer must hit. Depending on whether the dealer has a 2 through 9 on their up-card, you should only double down or take a hit. The alternative is to split when the dealer has a ten, nine, or an ace and then double down after splitting. Doubling after a split lets you increase the stakes on whichever half of your split you desire.

Casino Dealer Up-cards That Allow Players to Split a Pair or Avoid Splitting

The previous splitting tips we recommend applying at a blackjack table involve the cards you receive. However, the dealer’s card can also influence your decision to split. Highlighted below are the dealer up-cards that should impact your decision on whether to split or not in blackjack:

  • The dealer shows a 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6: You should split your 2s and 3s in addition to any pairs of 6s, 7s, and 9s you might have. The exception is if you hold a 4-4 pair, which would simply hit if the dealer has a two, three, or four.
  • The dealer shows a 7: Only split if you have a 2-2, 3-3, and 7-7; hit if you have a 4-4 and 6-6; stand if your card pair is 9s. If you’re wondering why you must stand when you have a 9-9, it’s because a total of 18 can hold well against the dealer’s 7.
  • The dealer shows an 8 or a 9: In this situation, you should split pairs of 9s if it’s what you have in your hand. For a card pair of 2s, 3s, 4s, 6s, and 7s, you should draw another card.

Final Consideration Before Pair Splitting Your Blackjack Hand

In blackjack games, pair splitting is a great strategy to incorporate, especially when you need to split pairs of aces and 8s to beat the house. Before doing this, you should consider how much you have in your bankroll to know if you can afford the eventualities or avoid the strategy altogether. Splitting would typically require you to double the bet on some hands, so if you’re already down to your final few chips, perhaps reducing your stake is the better strategy. Learn about the strategy deviations presented by our experts by checking out our designated page!

Cosmin Brehoi
AuthorCosmin BrehoiAuthor & Editor at Casino alpha

Since forever a student of life and a writer at his core, Cosmin loves to place bets on football matches in his free time. Combining the art of prediction and a rigorously trained intuition, he has joined the iGaming world to promote a responsible and data-driven approach to sports betting.