How and When to Split in Blackjack?
Wondering how and when to split in blackjack correctly? Then read further. The beauty of the Blackjack game is that it’s played against the dealer (house). Be aware that the odds of winning increase by twofold and as a consequence, beat the house. Strap in, as you will be doing precisely this by the end of the article.
Fact: The infamous president of UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) Dana White was banned from Palms and many other casinos in Las Vegas for beating the house and winning more than $7 million playing Blackjack. White had an immense winning streak that lasted over 6 months, clearly because he had a knack to crack the Blackjack code.
The Context to Splitting in Blackjack
The simple answer to the question ‘when to split in blackjack’ is when your initial two dealt cards are of the same value. Having said that, it is a whole different ball game to learn what same cards to split, what to keep, and what to double down on.
Splitting in blackjack is much more nuanced than one initially comprehends. To understand the need to split these cards, one must take a glimpse at the wonderful game of Blackjack as a whole.
As mentioned in the beginning, blackjack is played against the dealer and this fact is more important than the value 21. Most players believe that the objective of the game is to get close to this magic number but the truth is, you simply need to have cards that hold a higher value than the dealer’s cards.
The implication of this is; if your hand holds a value of 14 and the dealer’s card’s value adds up to 13, you win, so the number 21 is moot with respect to this particular game. So the general rule of thumb is to remember the spilling point as 21 but constantly play to obtain 1 more value on cards that you’re dealt against the dealer’s cards’ total value.
Blackjack Card Values & Terminologies
Before ‘when do you split in blackjack’ comes what are the basic values of cards and terms used in blackjack. Knowing these down to your instinct will play to your benefit immensely so let’s learn;
- Ace – 1 or 11
- 10, Joker, Queen, and King – 10
- 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 – hold the value of their number
- Blackjack – is when the two cards dealt are any 10 value cards and an Ace
- Bust – is when the dealt cards exceed the highest value of 21
- Counting Cards – is memorising the dealt cards to predict the upcoming ones
- Chip Up & Down – is when you increase or decrease your bet from the previous game, respectively
- Double Down – is when you place the same amount bet again to receive another card
- Even Money – is when you split the money evenly with the dealer when you have a blackjack and the dealer has an ace
- Hard Hand – is when the dealt cards don’t have an ace
- Hit – is when you take another card to increase the value of the cards you’re dealt.
- Hole Card – is the dealer’s card that is faced down
- Insurance – is the dealers bet when he has an ace
- Monkey – are cards that hold a value of 10
- Paint – are picture cards
- Pair – two cards that hold the same value and these may be split
- Soft Hand – is when an ace usually counts as 11
- Split – is when you split two cards of the same value into two separate hands
- Stand – is not to hit for another card
- Stand-Off – is when the dealer has the same value cards as the player
- Surrender – is when you give up half of your bet in case the dealer has an assured win
When to Not Split & When to Split in Blackjack?
Most blackjack split rules are based on tried & tested probabilities. Some hands mean that you split immediately, some mean the opposite, and splitting some hands is based on the dealer’s up card. So, following these will statistically increase your chances of winning many folds.
- Fours – A pair of 4s gives you 8 and the highest you score on the next hit is 19. So never split a pair of 4s as only a 5, 6, or a 7 on the next hit can give you higher odds of winning, and just these three cards are not good odds.
- Fives – Never split a pair of 5s because it will increase your chances of hitting a lower hand or busting out of 21 in the next hit. A relatively decent number, two 5s means you have a 10 which means you must either double down, unless the dealers facing cards are an ace, 9 or a 10.
- Tens – An almost perfect hand, some people like to ‘dismantle’ by splitting 10s but the odds of the dealer showing a perfect 21 are low. So stick to your impressive hand of 20 and never split a pair of 10s.
- Eights – If you’re dealt a pair of 8s, split it immediately. Although 16 is a high score, it is a bad one as anything above a 5 value card will bust you on the next hit, and there are great chances of this happening. Splitting a pair of 8s will give you twice the opportunity to win the game.
- Aces – When you are dealt 2 aces, one ace holds a value of 1 and the other, 11. This brings the tally to 12 which means that only a 9 card can get you to 21, where multiple 10 cards increase the odds of a bust. But in a situation where you split these two aces, the same 10 cards can lead you to a perfect winning score of 21.
Splitting Based on Dealers Up Cards:
- Scenario 1: When you have a pair of 6s and the dealer’s up cards are 2 to 6, probability dictates that your winning chances increase if you split whereas the dealer most likely will bust.
- Scenario 2: When you have a pair of 9s and the dealer shows cards between 2 to 6, hitting at 18 is ill-advised for obvious reasons, and having split 9s will give you winning odds against the dealer’s good hand.
- Scenario 3: When you have 2s, 3s, or 7s, and the dealer’s up cards are between 2 to 7, the dealer immediately has an upper hand, and these three pairs are famously called ‘stinkers’ as a bust is inevitable in a couple of hits, in most cases.
Rules to Split in Blackjack
General rules while splitting in blackjack varies based on casinos and online casinos. Acquaint yourself with these rules some casinos may put forth, as blackjack is played against the house, and a skilled/seasoned player can always win big.
- Splitting of hands or doubling down may be limited after the first split. So ask the dealer about this rule.
- At some casinos, an ace and a 10 card may be considered as a non-blackjack 21 in which case, your blackjack strategy must change completely.
- Some casinos don’t allow you to hit more than once after splitting your hand of two aces.
- Although Joker, Queen, and King are considered as 10 cards, some casinos prohibit you from splitting Joker & Queen cards for instance.
Blackjack Split Strategy
Finding the above information too wordy? Then, here’s my blackjack split strategy to distil the info.
Basic Blackjack Splitting
|Dealer’s Up Card|
|A,A||Make sure to always split the aces|
|5,5||Do not split the 5s|
|8,8||Make sure to always split the 8s|
|10,10||Do not split 20|
Blackjack strategy: 4-8 decks with dealer stands on 17
|Player||Dealer’s Up Card|
Blackjack strategy: 4-8 decks with dealer hits on 17
|Player||Dealer’s Up Card|
Make a point to ask the dealer for all the rules before dealing the hands from the shoe or read the list of rules thoroughly while playing Blackjack online.
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