Splitting is one of the lesser-known commands that can be carried out when playing blackjack. While seasoned players are well accustomed to carrying out the move, newer players will not be as well versed. What both sets of players have in common is that very few of them know the right time to split. When is the right time to split though? Before we come to that, it is important to explain exactly what splitting is.
Splitting is an option given to players when playing blackjack. It only becomes available when players are dealt two cards that are the same. When you choose to split, you have to wager again, because you now have two hands instead of one. There is also sometimes the option to resplit if you are dealt another pair from your initial split. Not all blackjack games offer this move though, so make sure that you check before playing if this is allowed.
There are two times that everyone knows you should always split on. It is easy to remember because if you put the two together, it makes the famous dead man’s hand, which Wild Bill Hickok was holding when he got shot. You should always split on a pair of Aces and a pair of eights.
The reason behind splitting on Aces is very simple. Together, they offer a relatively poor hand. A hand of 12 is difficult to play with, and unless you manage to draw a nine, you have no way of getting 21. By splitting them into two hands with an Ace, it makes the chances of getting a natural blackjack much higher, as well as giving you the chance of having two strong starting hands.
There is a different reason behind splitting with an eight. Despite there not being a great chance of getting a winning hand from a hand with a single eight, it is much increased from a hand of two eights. This is because a score of 16 very rarely wins, but at the same time, hitting on a hand of 16 has a high chance of making you go bust. As such, you should always split in order to remove that chance and give yourself a better opportunity to win.
The most obvious hand that you should never split is two tens. This is because a score of 20 stands a very good chance of winning. Not only that, but if you split your two tens, you are likely to get a card that is worth less than ten. This means that you will end up doubling your wager for two hands that are weaker than the hand you had in the first place. As such, standing with your two tens is the best choice in 99% of cases.
It is also not a good choice to split fours. This is because you will just end up with two weak hands, as opposed to a hand that cannot go bust from hitting. The other hand that you should never split is two fives. This is because you should treat two fives as though they are a single ten. Instead of splitting them into two weak hands, hit for the opportunity to create a strong hand.
For some hands, splitting is sometimes a good idea and sometimes not a good idea. Basic blackjack strategy tells you what you should do with your hand based on what the dealer is showing. So, if you have twos, threes or sevens, then you should split your hand if the dealer is showing less than an eight. Basic blackjack strategy will always point you in the direction of the best mathematical choice. This means that it points you towards the best chance of winning the hand.
Resplitting is an option that not all blackjack games offer. As such, make sure that you check whether you can resplit before you play.
When you split initially, it is important to think of your new hands as totally separate hands. Because of this, the new hand you are dealt should come under exactly the same rules as the original hand. So, if you are dealt a pair of Aces or a pair of eights initially, and you are then dealt another one of those cards, you should always resplit them. This will ensure that you have the highest mathematical chance of winning your hands.
When checking other hands, you should also follow the same rules that you used for your initial hand. Look at what the dealer is showing – if you split the first time, then you should split the second time as this will increase your chance of winning.
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Words: Sean McNulty
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