Knowing When to Split in Blackjack

blackjack optionsWhen you are dealt two cards of the same denomination (e.g. two eights, two tens or two jacks) you will have the option to split them into two separate hands. You signal your intention to split by spreading two fingers apart in a scissor motion. When you split, the dealer will deal two more cards (one for each hand) and your bet is doubled. The bet for the new hands must be equal to the amount you placed on the original first two cards dealt. Splitting gives you two chances to beat the dealer (or lose). High-level strategy players know when to split. As there are only ten card values, learning the optimal decision to make is fairly simple. See a full breakdown of when to split or not, below.

Blackjack Games

Most Blackjack games will allow you to split a hand a maximum of three times. This means that you can play a total of up to four hands at one time. Remember to check the house rules before placing bets to ensure to ensure that you are complying with the casino. There is usually a small game-play rules next to the table, of if playing online, you will find the rules in a tab. Familiarise yourself with all rules, including double down and surrender, to ensure that you can play optimally.

When to Split

There are some situations where it makes sense for the player to split, regardless of the dealers upcard. Splitting will give you the strongest hand and will increase your chances of beating the dealer.

Always split Aces and 8s.

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Splitting will give you a much better chance of getting the strongest hand. Playing two aces as one hand means you start with a value of 12 (Ace =1, Ace = 11) In this instance, you will need to score a value of 9 on your next hand to get 21. If you score a 10, you will be forced to play the second ace as 1 and this will bring your total to 12. However, if you split your two Aces, you can play both at the value of 11, which means you have four ways to get a 21 in either hand. (10, J, Q or K).

Here are some other instances in which you could split, to increase your advantage and diminish the house edge.

  • Split 2s and 3s against a dealer 4-7, and against a 2 or 3 if Double After Split (DAS) is allowed.
  • Split 4s only if DAS is allowed and the dealer shows a 5 or 6.
  • Split 6s against a dealer 3-6, and against a 2 if DAS is allowed.
  • Split 7s against a dealer 2-7.
  • Split 9s against a dealer 2-6 or 8-9

When not to Split

Never split 4s, 5s and 10s.

Splitting 10s is a common mistake made in Blackjack. By Splitting a total value of 20, you are decreasing your chances of beating the dealer twofold and relying on an Ace to improve your stance. Card counters who have a good knowledge of what cards are left in the deck, may choose to split 10s. They do this as they know that they have a reasonable chance of getting at least 20 on both hands.

never split

Splitting low values like 4s and 5s, will just give you a weaker hand. When you decide to split, you also have to double your wager. Splitting low cards will likely mean that you’ll lose your money. In addition, you should look at two 5s as the value of 10. This is a strong hand and you stand a fair chance of getting 21 on the first hit. In essence, you will only decrease your chances of winning by splitting 5s and will likely be at a loss.

Why not test your split strategy today with Cafe Casino.