When To Split Cards In Blackjack

Split or Hit It is advised to split pairs of 2s, 3s or 7s if the dealer's card is from 2 to 7. In other cases it is advised to hit, as there is a high possibility of the dealer to go bust. Split or Hit It is advised to split a pair of 4s only if the dealer's card is 5 or 6. Split hands are then played out one after the other, both receiving additional cards and following the same hit, stand, double or split rules (many casinos allow you to split Aces just once) as would a normal hand of blackjack. When to Split Sixes. Split a pair of sixes when the dealer shows 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Based on the mathematical calculations, your hard 12 can give you a better result, when the dealer has 7 or more, and your six in hand can result in a stronger combination when the dealer has less than 7. Ideally, if the hand is split, it will either amount to 19 or 20 after a couple of draws or result in a push. When the dealer has a 2 – 7 card, it is highly recommended to split your 6s and 7s.

Whether you play blackjack at a land-based or online casino, there is a moment that irrevocably may define the outcome. The decision is called splitting. It is the situation when you’re dealt with two hole cards and have an option to split the hand into two. Doubling your initial bet and raising the stakes, you can make such a strategic decision once, right after the first cards are dealt. An enticing and exciting opportunity, indeed, is something you need to know when, how, and why to use.

Splitting in blackjack may be compared to the tuxedo.

As one of the most elegant garments of all times, it dates back to 1865 and the Prince of Wales, future King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain Edward VII, as the Business Insider tells the story.

Looking for a bit more formal suit, a Savile Row tailor created the “dinner jacket,” for his highness. Intended as an ensemble to be worn during dinners at the Sandringham House, it was “a more formal than a lounge suit,” yet appropriate enough for informal Royal evenings.

Twenty years later, American millionaire James Brown Potter and his wife Cora visited the future king. Not acquainted with proper dressing code, Potter inquired at the Prince’s tailor what he should wear; he got his own dinner jacket as an answer.

On his return to New York, Potter wore it at the first annual Autumn Ball, social elite gathering at the exclusive country club called Tuxedo Park on October 1886. As upper-class gentlemen and magnates like William Waldorf Astor and JP Morgan donned traditional ensemble of black tailcoats, heavily starched white shirts, and formal bow ties, Potter showed up in the dinner jacket.

The suit instantly took off and was eventually named by the club where it premiered.

Enjoying quite an interesting evolutionary journey thus far, the tuxedo distinguishes itself from other garments by firm rules on when and how to be used.

To wear it right will result in being noticed in a potentially beneficial way; the princess you’re eyeing may realize her prince has just arrived while a businessman you’re pitching will, if nothing else, listen to you seriously — always a potent start.

Then again, to wear the tuxedo at high noon in the street or at the pool party or at night club might make you look quite strange, maybe even provoking — all eccentricities aside — and your social interactions will probably suffer. Though nothing is impossible and you still may get it right, you’d fare much better if you select your wardrobe a bit more properly.

The same is with blackjack splitting: there is when and how to use it.

Rules Dictate Your Strategy

Play it right and you might double your winnings; do it wrong — well, the outcome is obvious. Luckily, blackjack strategy covers splitting extensively, thus at least you have a theoretical baseline when it comes to one the most difficult aspects of the game.

Your initial moves and options are, of course, defined by rules.

When the first hand you’re dealt with consists of same denomination cards — such as two 4s or 9s — you can split them into two separate hands. Your standard bet will be placed on each hand, in effect doubling your wagering amount.

Upon the split, each hand is treated separately. You can play both independently and employ whatever tactics you deem proper at each one.

When it comes to online blackjack, splitting rules might vary depending on games variants.

For instance, if you split 10s and get another 10 on one hand, you can split that too; it’s known as resplitting. Majority of variations and house rules allow it for up to three times (totaling four hands), but some don’t. This one is important; by depriving you of this option, casinos in effect increase their house edge by 0.4 percent.

Same is with splitting cards with the same value. Some games will let you split a 10 and a Queen, others won’t, allowing only for identical cards to be split.

You may also stumble upon an online blackjack variant which does not allow doubling down after splitting. In the example, you split a pair of 6s and receive 5 at one hand; some games will let you double down on 11 after the split, others will not.

When To Split Your Cards In Blackjack

Therefore…

Don’t miss the opportunity to read or inquire on blackjack rules carefully.

They will define what you can or can’t do when it comes to splitting, and influence your strategic decisions.

In addition, when you play blackjack at a land-based casino — there is a way to signal split to the dealer. You simply place the next bet close to your original wager and form the letter V with your index and middle fingers. It won’t hurt to also say ‘split’ if you consider it necessary or the casino employs such alternate rules.

Whatever you choose, don’t touch your initial bet or cards at the table.

Your Strategy is Governed by Principles

Now, splitting pairs wisely can be a huge boost for your game. It is one of the most common moves in the game and to know when and how to do it is super-important for the outcome of your game.

(Side note. Blackjack schools of thought on splitting vary, depending on rules, calculations, and experience of players. Therefore, you should indeed take all of them as nothing more than opinions, and form your own dos and don’ts based on a good mix of knowledge and personal experience. In gaining both, do not take anything for granted.)

CONSIDER TO SPLIT when you’re dealt with aces and eights no matter what the dealer has.

Why? If you play two aces in one hand, you’ll start with 12, and any 10 or face card will prompt you to play the second ace as a value of one, reverting you to 12. By splitting, you increase your chances for better hand afterward.

Same is with 8s: by playing them as one hand, you start at week 16 where hitting is kind of a risky. By splitting them, you won’t be bust in the next hand (it’s impossible) and you might get a better hand.

The advice to split 8s and As also works for resplitting.

If you get a second pair, treat them as the original hand and consider splitting. One very important reminder: by resplitting, you triple your original wager.

When Can You Split Cards In Blackjack

The rest of the split options depends on the dealer’s hand.

If the dealer has any card value between 2 to 6 in up hand and you get 22, 33, 66, 77, or 99 — you might split. With dealer’s card values between 7 to ace, you should consider not to split.

(Side note. You’ll notice that some players advise not to split 9s by default. Pros: it’s already strong hand, 18. Cons: you might get two strong hands in the next hit. Debatable. Thus, we put double 9s in the category depending on dealers up hand.)

Consider NOT TO SPLIT when dealt with two 4s, 5s, and 10s.

Splitting 4s will give you two weak hands. Next card might either give you another less-valuable hand (if you get 2, 3, or 4) or one that might result in a bust on the next hit. If you don’t split, the highest you can get is 19, which is a very good hand.

Splitting 5s is perhaps even worse. If you get 2, 3, or 4, even 6, you’ll have a weak hand quite possible to be busted out in the next hit. But if you don’t, you have 10, which you can’t bust right away while keeping a chance for 21 alive.

Splitting 10s is a rookie mistake. You have a second-best hand in the game which is not worth jeopardizing for any uncertainty, including the theoretical possibility of two blackjacks in the next hit (which is a question of blind luck). By splitting tens you significantly lower your chances and gamble almost certain win away.

Final Notes: Earn & Own Your Principles

Naturally, wherever there are rules, there is a maybe — a very fine line separating win and loss in any walk of life. Sooner or later you’ll find it in blackjack too. As with any game of luck and skills…

Such maybe line should be evaluated in an educated, prudent, responsible, disciplined, and objective manner.

What will you do — short of remembering to split only when the dealer faces the unfavorable situation — is indeed up to you. To make a right call is not easy, of course, but is something we should always strive for, particularly when facing the game with the best house edge in the industry (the credit shared with craps).

At the end of the day…

Listen to yourself, use your knowledge, intuition, tact, style of play, find reputable sources and personal authorities you’ll use as trusted advisors, and make your pick wisely.

In a way, do it as you would choose the tuxedo, readying yourself for that princess.


Ha ha ha.. Glad to see that bj21 is now soliciting humor articles! This one was especially funny, especially the line: 'split only when the dealer faces the unfavorable situation', which is in direct contradiction to the prior advice to split 8's regardless of the dealer's upcard. In addition, the numerous (I hope intentional) typos as well as the syntax and grammatical errors also made me chuckle.

Keep up the hilarious work!

Dog Hand

P.S. If by chance this article was meant to be taken seriously, then I hope it is quickly removed before its poor advice is taken to heart by gullible readers.

I agree with Dog Hand. Any of the usual books on Blackjack and the Wizard of Odds will provide charts with the correct splitting strategy.

The tuxedo story was amusing filler.

Ace Hunter

Hi Dog Hand and Ace Hunter,

Thank you for your comments.

Every advice covered in my article is based on Michael Shackleford’s splitting strategy. In effect, I only followed the Wizard of Odds’ rules on splitting. In retrospection, I should have referred it in the article — would probably clarify my source.

Regarding my notion at the end “to split only when the dealer faces the unfavorable situation” – the idea was to yet again underline all cases except for aces and 8s. In the hindsight, you’re right, it might have been written more clearly.

I hope this feedback explain what I meant to say.

Thank you again.
May the blackjack force be with you!

--Dejan

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Splitting in Blackjack is one more solution available for Blackjack players. It can be used in combination with the double down or surrender option – the main thing for the players to consider is how to combine these solutions to get a better result. In this article, we are going to disclose the situations when this move has to and shouldn’t be used. Along with that, we will disclose a proper approach to this solution.

What Does a Split in Blackjack Mean?

A split solution means that you play two hands instead of one after getting the initial hand. Each hand is played solely, which means that you can lose with one hand and win with the second. This solution can be a good choice, if the cards in your initial hand, can bring you more chances to win, if distributed into two hands, instead of being used in just one.

Some players ignore this move, leaving no chance to double their winnings or decrease their chances of losing. The thing is that this solution can only be used for your benefit if you are familiar with card counting and know the essence of this move.

How to Split in Blackjack: Rules

The only condition when splitting is available is when you have a pair in the initial hand. You cannot split after a hit or any other move. Thus, if you get 6-6, and then another 6, you cannot split your hand. However, there are some casinos that impose restrictions on splitting:

  • Splitting is allowed only once.
  • After splitting, you cannot get a natural Blackjack even if you have 10-Ace; it is valued as an ordinary 21.
  • Some pairs cannot be split (Ace, 10, etc.).
  • No double down after splitting allowed.

Generally, you can split as many times as you want. For example, if you get a pair of 6’s, you can split. Then you get two hands with one 6 in each one.

If in one of the hands, you get another 6, you can split that hand as well. Thus, you will get 3 hands with 6 cards. Though, some of the casinos only allow you to split once.

You also can split Aces, as well, in some of the casinos. That means that once you have an Ace-Ace, you can split and get two hands with one Ace card in each of them. Make it clear in the casino, whether you can split Aces, as some of the houses forbid that.

Double down is a move that allows you to increase your bet per hand and limits the number of cards you can get afterwards. After splitting, you can make a double down for one hand and use any other move for another hand. The outcomes for each hand won’t affect the outcome of the other hand. Though, some of the casinos do not allow you to double down after splitting.

Thus, along with knowing how to use the decision to split correctly, you also should find out the rules of eligibility for this move, in the specified casino. These rules can have a great effect on the results of the game.

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Why Do You Need to Split Cards in Blackjack?

Many players do not really know when splitting is a good decision. In this article, we have disclosed situations when splitting can improve your results, and here we will answer the question, why do you need to split your cards at all.

There are three main reasons to use this move:

  • Splitting can maximize your profits
  • It can minimize your losses
  • It can improve your initial hand

How can splitting maximize your profits? If the dealer has a weak hand, splitting your hand means you play two hands instead of the dealer’s weak hand. This means that you have more chances to win, so you use this move as much as possible, depending on the situation, when the dealer gets a weak hand in a specified game.

How can splitting minimize your losses? If the dealer has a strong hand or a moderate hand, depending on your hand and the Blackjack game rules you play, you can surrender (if possible), split, or hit.

For some of the card combinations (which are pointed out in this article), the best decision would be to split. You get the chance to have at least one strong hand against the dealer’s hand. Thus, you can minimize your losses.

How can splitting improve your hand? If you have 2 cards that can make a good combination in separate hands but make a bad combination in one hand, it may be better for you to make a splitting decision than to hit, double down or surrender. Thus, choosing this option gives you the chance of a stronger combination.

Splitting Strategy: When You Should Always Split Cards in Blackjack

Unlike the other solutions, for a split, there are situations when splitting is always a good option, no matter what the card combination is in the dealer’s hand. This is true for a pair of Aces and a pair of eights.

The main reason for the pair of aces to get split is that an Ace in the initial hand is always a good card. When you get 10 with an Ace, it is a natural Blackjack, and moreover, an Ace can be valued both like 1 or 11. Consider the fact that for your initial hand with two Aces, you get a sum of 12, and the only way to get a Blackjack comes when you get 9. Whereas, when you split, you get far more winning combinations.

When it comes to the eights, there is another reason for splitting – a hard 16 is a weak hand. It is not enough to stand, as the majority of dealers stand or hit with a soft 17. It is risky to hit with this combination, as any value that is higher than a 5 will bust your hand. You get much better options if you split, and get an eight in two hands.

You should also resplit in case you get Aces or eights in hand after the first split. The reasons for the resplit are the same as for the first split. The only reason you couldn’t use split for Aces or resplit for Aces and eights, is the situation when this move is restricted by the casino. Below you can see some examples of hands with eights and Aces that would be valuable to consider for your gaming strategy.

Split Aces

Your hand: Ace-Ace

Dealer’s up card: Any

No matter what up card the dealer has, you should split. Even if the dealer has an Ace as well, which increases the chances of him having a natural Blackjack or another strong combination.

When you split, you get two potentially strong hands, instead of one that has a value of 12. After you split, you have more options to double down or hit until you get the best value.

Split Eights

Your hand: 8-8

Dealer’s up card: Any

Hard 16 is a weak combination, as you have a 60% chance to go bust with it. Moreover, the majority of dealers stop on soft 17, so even standing on hard 16 isn’t the best option. Normally, if you get a hard 16, it is better to consider the surrender option. However, if you get pairs with an opportunity to split, you should use it, as there many chances to get a strong combination with an eight in your hand.

What cards not to split?

There are cards that you shouldn’t split under any circumstances:

  • A pair of fives
  • Pair of fours
  • Pair of tens

The thing is that splitting these cards, no matter what card is in the dealer’s hand, will decrease your chances of winning dramatically. Below we will provide you with a detailed disclosure on each combination.

Don’t Split Tens

A pair of tens gives you 20. This is one of the best combinations to stand when playing Blackjack, as you are likely to win. Splitting will be a very risky move.

The thing is that the majority of dealers stop at soft 17, which means that you need to get 7 or more after the split to win. Based on this calculation, you have more chances to win the round if you stand on 20. Example

Your hand: 10-10

Dealer’s up card: 8

With the dealer’s eight or any other card in the game, a casino has a very low chance of winning, as it should collect 21. On the other hand, your 20 is a great value to stand at.

Never Split Fives

Splitting fives is a bad idea, as you have a better option of doubling down depending on the dealer’s up card. Most players choose the split option in this situation, basing their decision on the fact that 5 in hand gives you a great number of options for the second card and future moves. However, it is proven mathematically, that you get more chances to win if you double down or hit in this position.

Your hand: 5-5

Dealer’s up card: 4

If you split now, you have to take the risk of getting a weak combination against the dealer’s 4 with another card in hand. If doubling down, you will have more chances to acquire a stronger value than the dealer.

Never Split Fours

Having fours gives a higher chance to get more than a soft 17 than if you split this hand. Here you get even more chances to get a weak hand than with fives. You will ultimately get weak initial hands instead of a stronger one. Based on the mathematical calculations, hitting is better than splitting here.

Your hand: 4-4

Dealer’s up card: 9

In this situation, you will have fewer chances to get a strong initial hand, as if the second card in the dealer’s hand is of high value, you will have to hit numerous times, for both hands with totally unpredictable results. More chances to win remain if you hit with 4-4 giving you an 8 and a higher chance to beat a soft 17.

Splitting Other Cards in Blackjack

Along with the combinations that leave only one option on whether or not to split, there are also other combinations that can leave you with options depending on the dealer’s up card.

When to Split Twos, Threes, or Sevens

Twos, threes, and sevens should be split if the dealer shows a card with a value of 7 or less. The reason is that twos and threes give you 4 and 6, which is a naturally weak initial hand to move on, and if you split this pair, you will get far more chances to get a strong combination to hit. You should also split sevens, as you have more chances to get a strong combination by hitting two cards afterwards, than with a hard 14.

Your hand: 2-2

Dealer’s up card: 4

As you can see in this situation, you have a value of four, while the dealer has 4 as an upcard only. It is less, so you can easily split your cards, and then hit as many times as you need to. With such a combination split, you have more chances to get a high value, than with a four against four and the second card in the dealer’s hand.

When to Split Sixes

Split a pair of sixes when the dealer shows 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Based on the mathematical calculations, your hard 12 can give you a better result, when the dealer has 7 or more, and your six in hand can result in a stronger combination when the dealer has less than 7.

Your hand:6-6

Split

Dealer’s up card: 8

Here, you have a hard 12 against the dealer’s 8. You only can go bust if you get a 10, while you do not yet know the dealer’s situation. Any other card added will only improve the value of your hand, thus hitting is a better option than splitting, when you get two weak six combinations, against the dealer’s 8.

Splitting Nines

Splitting nines is a good idea against the dealer’s 2-6, 8, and 9. When you split against 2-6, 8, you get a better combination without the risk of getting busted on the next hit. With the 9 up card, you have the same chances on the new hand. Seven is excluded from here as mathematically, the dealer has greater chances of getting a strong combination.

Your hand: 9-9

Dealer: 5

If you split now, you will get two hands with nines in each, against the dealer’s 5 card. This gives you better chances to win twice. Standing here would be a good option as well, and still, you can increase your profits if you split.

Blackjack Splitting Chart

To make it clearer for players when or not to split, we have prepared a chart showing the best combinations for a specified move.

Here you can get acquainted with the main topics that are being discussed about the split move. Continue reading below to get answers on the most frequently asked questions.

Splitting in Blackjack FAQ

How many times can you split in Blackjack?

If splitting is available in the game, you can split as many times as you want per round. Although, some restrictions as to when you can split are enforced in some situations.

What DAS means?

Double After Split (versus: NDAS, which is NO Double After Split). This rule is a benefit to the player that allows you to double down after you split a hand.

What does NDAS mean?

No Double After Split (versus: DAS=Double After Split).

What NRSA means?

No resplit Aces. This means you can split Aces once, but cannot split them again.

Other Blackjack Strategies

Along with splitting, you can also make other moves that can be combined with splitting or used solely depending on the game rules and situation. Knowing how to use these moves can improve your results dramatically, otherwise, they can be useless. Thus, there is double down, hit & stand, and surrender.

Double Down

Double downis a move that considers increasing your initial hand. It is only available for the initial hand, and after using this move, you can only get one card in hand. Sometimes double down is available after splitting, sometimes not – it depends on the rules. Double down can increase your winnings and is valuable for those who use long-run strategies.

Hit & Stand

Hit is a basic solution available for all blackjack games. It means that you take an additional card to improve your hand. This move is available only until you get a value of 21 or get busted. The stand solution is about no longer taking any more cards. It is used when you believe the combination you have is the best you can get in that hand. Hit & Standshould be used in combination with other moves.

Surrender

Surrenderis an option that is not presented in the majority of Blackjack games. Thus, when it is available, you can use it to decrease your loses. The surrender solution can only be used upon receiving the initial hand and means that you stop the hand, and receive 50% of your original wager.

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