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When to split in blackjack

When to split in blackjack


Splitting pairs is quite a big weapon in a blackjack player’s arsenal at Bitcasino. It offers you another chance of beating the dealer as well as doubling your win. Splitting is a way for a player to gain an advantage, but it’s always important to ensure that you split the right hands. Let’s have a look at how you can get the best use of splitting in blackjack.

Splitting in reference to blackjack

Most online variants of blackjack allow you to split pairs. If you are dealt two of the same cards, you get the option of splitting the cards to form new hands and carry on betting using both hands. When the cards become split, you can place a second stake using each hand, equal to the bet with which you started. A further card(s) is then added and you will continue as usual by taking more cards (hitting) or taking no further cards (standing). You can also make a double, where an extra bet can be made for an additional single card.

When to split pairs in blackjack

It’s possible to split any pair in blackjack, but when should this happen?

Well, splitting depends on the dealer’s up card. In most blackjack versions, when you get dealt one pair, there is an option of splitting them into two new hands. You are then dealt two extra cards (one for each hand) and your bet is doubled. You will then play each hand normally, getting two chances of beating the dealer. Getting to know when you can split the pairs in blackjack is very important for high-level playing. There are only ten card values, which makes it easy to memorise what to do in every situation.

When you should always split

Always split the Aces

There are just a few situations in blackjack when it makes sense to split. It doesn’t matter which card is being shown by the dealer. For instance, you should always split after getting a pair of Aces. Splitting puts you in a better position of getting a strong hand. Consider the following scenario.

If you happen to play your two Aces as a single hand, you will begin with a value of 12, playing one as value 11 and the other as value 1. It’s only a 9 that will give you value 21. A face card or 10 will make you play a second Ace, which has value 1, bringing you down to 12.

If you happen to split, there are four ways that you can achieve a 21 in either of the two hands (being dealt a J, 10, K, or Q).

Always split 8s

Apart from the Aces, other pairs that any blackjack player will advise splitting on are the 8s. When playing your 8s as a single hand, getting a perfect hand becomes difficult. When playing separately, you mathematically get a better chance, but the chances you have aren't fantastic. Consider the following scenario.

In case you play two 8s as one hand, you will start at 16, which is a very weak hand. This is definitely a risky proposition, to begin with. Anything going beyond a 5 will make you bust. You therefore have almost 60% chance of losing that hand.

If you split, on the other hand, it is not possible to bust out the hit you make first. At least you have a chance to get a more favourable hand.

Always re-split 8s or Aces

If you get dealt a second pair, always re-split the 8s or Aces. After splitting, the dealer offers you two cards, each meant for the new hands. If this provides you with a second pair of 8s or aces, then treat this as a hand of its own and split again.

Always note that this means tripling your original bet (first time splitting will double your bet).

In this kind of scenario, house rules vary. A majority of blackjack games allows splitting a maximum of three times, allowing you to play four hands in total.

When you should never split

Never split 10s

This is a very common mistake made in blackjack. Essentially, splitting 10s is sacrificing a great hand to get a slim chance for an even better chance. Consider the following scenario.

If you happen to play a pair of 10s, you get a value of 20 on your hand, which is awesome. If you happen to split 10s, you will absolutely need to get an Ace to substantially improve your stance, as anything else will offer you a hand with a lesser or equal value. Speaking statistically, when you split tens, you will most likely get two hands that are worse than the first one.

Some experts in card counting give suggestions of splitting 10s in certain situations. For instance, if you are counting your cards and are sure that there are lots of 10s left in your card stock, then splitting 10s against the dealer could make sense, showing 5 or 6, which is a weak hand. In this way, you stand a very reasonable chance of getting at least a 20. The dealer will therefore have to get lucky to beat or even match you.

Never split 4s

Splitting fours just offers you two weak hands and makes no sense. Always remember that splitting requires the doubling of your original bet, so splitting 4s will result in you losing money.

It is not possible to bust out when you hit on a pair of 4s. The highest you can achieve is 19, only if you happen to get an ace, which is quite a decent hand. Splitting your 4s will most likely leave you with a less-valuable hand if you receive a two or three or even a hand that you could possibly bust out on if you hit (getting an 8 or higher). In order to be in a better position than you were originally, you need to get a 5, 6, or 7.

Never split 5s

If you happen to get a pair of 5s, treat them like a single 10 and forget about them being pairs. Now, double down using a 10 against anything in a dealer’s ace, 9, or 10 and just hit for these three possibilities.

Splitting a pair of 5s is not much different from splitting fours, and much worse. It’s giving up a starting hand that is strong for a very slim chance to get something better. Using a pair of 5s, you cannot just bust out. Getting a chance of having a 21 on the first hit is impossible. If you happen to split, you will actually be left with a weaker hand and a hand that is possible to get busted out on if you hit, in case you get a 6 or above. In reality, there’s really no way you can come out by splitting on 5s.

When splitting becomes a good idea

Split 2s, 3s, or 7s if the dealer shows a 7 or lower

The fast and hard rules provided in the above parts should rarely be broken. In case of getting other pairs, the ultimate course of action normally depends on the card the dealer is showing. For instance, pairs of 2s, 3s, and 7s can be split if a dealer shows a card that is relatively low. If the dealer has an 8 or a better-showing card, just take a hit.

Some expert resources also recommend splitting 2s and 3s (but not 7s) when an 8 is shown by the dealer.

Split 6s when the dealer shows a 2 through 6

If the dealer happens to have a 7 or better, just take a hit. You are numerically in a better position of beating the weak dealer’s hand in case you split your 6s. If the dealer has a stronger hand, your best bet becomes hitting and improving your hand, and you will only bust out if you receive a 10 or Face Card.

Split 9s against 2 through 6, 8, and 9

If the dealer shows a 7, 10, or an Ace, stand and don’t hit. Hitting on an 18 is kind of a suicidal borderline. Anything but a 2 or 3 could make you bust out.

Playing blackjack online at Bitcasino is an absolute thrill. The game is not only based on luck but also in strategy, and as a matter of fact, your winning depends upon the strategy you choose. It’s easy to memorise an optimum Blackjack strategy to make particular manoeuvres against the dealer. Blackjack at Bitcasino is a great casino classic, and you can start making your gains right away.

Words: Sean McNulty
Images: Shutterstock and Bitcasino


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