When to Split Cards in Blackjack

Splitting in Blackjack

In a game of Blackjack it often happens that you are dealt two cards of the same value. In these instances, you have the option of splitting the two cards in your single hand to form two separate hands. If you elect to split you will be dealt two additional cards one to each new hand. In splitting your hand, your bet is doubled but you also have two chances to attempt to beat the dealer.

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Knowing which cards to split in blackjack can add a significant amount to your expected return over the long run so it is very important to learn which cards to split and when you shouldn't do so at all.

In a game of standard blackjack there are generally only ten possible outcomes wherein you are able to split your cards, so it's easy to memorise what to do for each hand. Here we take a look at which cards to split and when not to do so based on the pair that you are dealt.

  1. When dealt a pair you should always split Aces and Eights but leave Fives and Tens alone.
  2. Always split Aces as there is a high probability of being dealt a Face Card or a Ten which will give you a decent shot at getting blackjack. Just be aware that the majority of casinos will not pay the standard 3:2 Blackjack payout when a pair of aces is split, nevertheless it is still a good play.
  3. Always Split a pair of Eights as a hand totalling 16 has more than a 60% chance of busting if you hit. The dealer's cards are not important in making this decision always split.
  4. Never split a pair of Face Cards (i.e. Jacks, Queens or Kings) or a pair of Tens because these pairs total 20 and give you an excellent chance of beating the dealer.
  5. A pair of Nine's should only be split once you have examined what the dealer is showing. If the dealer holds a seven, ten, face card or Ace refrain from splitting as the dealer generally will not have more than 18 so your chances of winning remain favourable without splitting.
  6. Split a pair of sevens unless the dealer has eight or higher as he/she can bust if they take another card or win if they draw a ten, ace or face card. A 14 total hand has more than a 50% chance of busting if you hit so basic mathematics dictates that you should split.
  7. A pair of sixes presents a tricky decision as it offers a mere 30% probability of busting with a total of 12 so do not split unless the dealer is showing four, five or six.
  8. A pair of fives totals ten which puts you in a good position to win if you get a 10 value card so you should never split 5's.
  9. If you hold a pair of Fours you have no probability of busting if you hit and your chances of getting a 10 value card is over 30% so you should generally never split a pair of fours unless the dealer is showing a 5 or 6 which increases the odds of them busting when they hit.
  10. If you hold a pair of twos or threes it is another tricky proposition and the only time you should ever split these cards is if the dealer holds a four, five or six as these will increase the dealer's chance of busting while you double your wager. Most experts recommend that you never spilt these pairs.

Before you play any blackjack game you should examine the rules closely as there are restrictions imposed on certain bets when it comes to splitting cards as these will alter your splitting and overall blackjack strategy quite considerably.

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