In blackjack, when you’ve been dealt two cards of equal value, leaving you with a matching pair, you have the option of splitting your hand. The cards could be two fours, two sevens, two kings or any other pair, and in each case, there are pros and cons to splitting or not splitting.
It’s worth remembering that there are several different ways to play blackjack and several variations on the rules, including the rules around splitting. However, the essential advantages and disadvantages remain the same, as does the math underlying any strategy.
Pros and cons
Splitting your hand means that you then have two hands instead of one. You break the matching pair up between the two separate hands. Doing this means that you have to double your original bet, as you are now betting on each hand separately. In its favor, splitting gives you two chances to beat the dealer and the possibility of doubling your win. Against this is the fact that you are risking twice the money and have two chances of going bust.
When should you split?
You should only split when doing so either improves your chances of winning or reduces the amount of money you stand to lose in the long term. To meet this second criterion, you need to be consistent and always split some pairs while never splitting others. Sometimes you’ll win and sometimes you’ll lose, but by following correct basic strategy, you’ll ultimately be better off than if you played randomly or never risked splitting your hand at all.
When playing at the best NJ online casino, you’ll have a better chance of winning real money if you know when to split your hand and when to keep a matching pair together. You’ll be able to make faster decisions if you have a set strategy and that will stand you in good stead over many hours of play from your desktop, mobile device or phone.
Hands you shouldn’t split
Don’t split a pair of nines or a pair of tens (including picture cards). They are already great hands, adding up to 18 and 20 respectively. If you stand with these pairs, you have a good chance of beating the dealer.
Don’t split a pair of fours or a pair of fives. These add up to eight and ten respectively: if you hit with either of these hands, you’ll have a better chance of a good hand than if you broke them up.
Hands you should always split
The ace is the most versatile card in the deck as it can be played either low or high. As such, it’s the secret weapon that can make a winning hand. A pair of aces, however, is too much of a good thing and can only ever add up to an unpromising two or twelve. To play them to their full advantage, split!
You should also split a pair of eights. Sixteen is the worst hand: too high to risk hitting, too low to stand. Splitting won’t work for everybody, but it definitely improves your chances.
This leaves pairs of twos, threes, sixes and sevens, where the decision to split or not depends on the dealer’s up card. If it looks like the dealer also has a low hand, i.e., the visible card is a seven or smaller, then you might want to split.
New players might find this decision daunting and worry about losing their bankroll. But getting a feel for when to split is an essential part of the blackjack learning process.