Splitting pairs is the second way to increase a bet AFTER the cards are dealt. Correct use of splitting strategy can knock another 0.5% of the House’s edge. In this article, we’ll discuss the best way to handle any pair you are dealt.
2/2 and 3/3:
Both 4 and 6 are very weak hands so you only want to split these against a very weak dealer’s hand (4-6). If you can double down after the split you should also split against a dealer’s 2-3 as the possibility of getting to double on a made 9, 10 or 11 will tip the scales in favor of splitting.
8 is a stronger hand than 4 and a pair of fours should be played as 8 and as such gets hit regardless of the dealer’s card. If you can double down after the split you should split against a dealer’s 5-6 as the possibility of getting to double on a made 9, 10 or 11 will tip the scales in favor of splitting.
10 is a much stronger hand than 5 and a pair of fives should always be played as 10 and as such gets hit against a dealer’s 10-A and doubled on a 2-9.
A nightmare deal. What’s worse: a single 12 or two 16s? The best action here is to treat as a 12 against a dealer’s 7-A because one losing hand is better than two losing hands. Against a weak dealer’s card of 3-6 splitting is your best option. You remove the risk of you busting for you but it is still there for the dealer. Against a 2 split if you can double after and just hit if you can’t.
14 is tough play, but 7 isn’t much better. The best play here is to split against a weak dealer’s card of 2-6 and against 7 a you hope to get pushes (or wins) with two 17s. Just hit against 8-A as one loss is still better than two.
8 is always better than 16, always. Split these EVERY time.
Here is a real chance to make some money. Split against 2-6, stand against 7 (you hope the dealer makes 17 and you win), split against 8-9 (you want better than 18 against an 8) and stand against 10-A (don’t risk two losers from one good hand).
A 20 is a winner most of the time and all splitting will do is screw things up more often than not. Note that in Blackjack any two face cards (10/10, J/K, 10/Q, etc) may be split and this may seem attractive against 4-6. Remember, Casinos only allow you to split these because it benefits them. Anytime you have a hard 20, stand pat and collect your winnings!
One 12 or two 11s? Not a difficult choice, you split these EVERY time. Note that you only get one hit to a split Ace. This isn’t so much to prevent you from winning, as it is to speed up play at the tables.
By hitting/standing, doubling down and splitting correctly, you have now lowered the House’s advantage over you from 5.5% all the way down to around 0.5%. I’ve heard players say that following these systems methodically takes the fun out of the game but we all know winning is more fun than losing.