Skip to main content

When to split, when not to split that’s the question new blackjack players ask themselves when given a pair. First of all, what is a split? A split is a blackjack term for when a player is dealt a pair of cards of the same value. A player then has the option to split the cards and be dealt more hards to play 2 hands at once. This can increase a player’s odds of winning or it can be advantageous to not split a pair, and play the hand normally. In this article, when to split, and when you should hold.

Hands to Always Split

There are few absolutes in gambling, but these 2 pairs should be no-brainers to split.

  • Aces: Splitting a pair of aces gives you a strong chance to get 21 on one or both hands.
  • Eights: A pair of eights by themselves is a bad hand at 16, but splitting them gives you great odds to land a 10, placing you at much better odds at 18

Hands to Never Split

Even though it may be tempting to play 2 hands regardless of the card, there are some splits that drastically hurt your chances of winning by splitting.

  • Tens: When dealt a pair of tens or face cards it’s rarely in your best interest to split. Even though it may be tempting, a 20-point hand is just about as good as it gets, and splitting only decreases your odds of winning.
  • Fours: Splitting fours is typically not advantageous for the player unless the dealer is showing a 5 or 6, even then you’re better off playing it as a single hand.

Conditional Hands to Split

Some splits are only advantageous if the dealer is showing certain cards. These can be the most helpful splits to know because they can give you the odds boost you need to win the hand.

  • Two & Threes: Splitting twos and three can sometimes be a good move if the dealer is showing a 2 through 7. If not just play the hand as normal.
  • Seven: Similar to splitting twos or threes splitting a pair of sevens can sometimes be in your favor. If the dealer is showing a 2 through 7 it’s in your best interest to split the sevens.
  • Six: If you’re dealt a pair of sixes you’ll most likely want to hold off splitting them unless the dealer is showing a 2 through 6
  • Nine: Nines are a bit more nuanced when it comes to splitting. If the dealer has a 2 through 6 or an 8 or 9 you should split the nines. If the dealer is showing a 7, 10 or ace, you are better off playing the hand normally.
  • Five: You should never split a pair of fives, instead you should double down if the dealer is showing a 2 through 9.

Doubling Down

Doubling down is a tactic when you double your original bet after receiving your cards, after you double down you’ll receive one additional card, after which you must stand with the cards dealt.

Hands to double down on

  • Hard Nine: If you’re dealt a combination of cards totaling 9 (7-2, 6-3, 5-4), you should double down if the dealer is showing a 3 through 9.
  • Hard Ten: If you’re dealt a ten you should double down if the dealer is showing a 2 through 9
  • Hard Eleven: Similarly to ten you should double down on an eleven if the dealer is showing a 2 through 10
  • Soft 16 through 18: If you’re dealt between a 16 to 18 (A-5, A-6, A-7) you should double down if the dealer is showing a 2 through 6

General Tips

  • Don’t be baited into splitting your pair unless it’s statistically advantageous
  • Always base your decision on the dealer’s upcard
  • Using the basic strategy listed above will help improve your statistical odds of winning.
Mitchell Lebrun

Mitchell Lebrun is the head of content at EatWatchGamble, working directly with our team of writers to ensure EWG is the ultimate casino resource. Mitchell is an Oregon State grad and avid NBA fan.

Leave a Reply