Splitting cards in blackjack is just one way that you can make a hand do extra work for you. If you get two cards with the same number dealt to you, you can opt to split them into two separate hands. Then, the dealer will give you two more cards – one for each new hand that you have. Your bet doubles (so you have to cover that), but you now have an extra chance to beat the dealer. Understanding when to split (and when not to split) your pair can add greatly to your profitability at the casino blackjack table. The good news is that there are only ten scenarios that allow you the possibility of splitting cards. This makes it easy to memorize what you should do in each of these scenarios when playing online blackjack.
Aces and 8’s
If you get a pair of these, always split them. Why? Eight plus eight is 16, which is a terrible place to be in. You’re not close enough to 21 to have a realistic chance of winning unless everyone else (including the dealer) busts, but if you hit, the vast majority of the cards in the deck will cause you to bust.
With the ace, you do have the choice between counting it as 1 or 11 points. However, a pair means that you have 2 or 12. Splitting – and getting a card worth 10 on either hand – gives you blackjack. You always want to double your chances of getting that 3 to 2 payout.
Look at the dealer’s hand. If he shows a 5 or a 6, he’s in the weakest possible position. In this case, go ahead and split with your 4s. You’re not in great shape either, but you have the dealer in a really shaky spot, so it’s wise to double your chances of beating him.
Never, ever, ever split a pair of fives. The most common point values will pull you closer to a bust, and you don’t want to double your bet and increase your likelihood of losing even more money. Instead, remember that 5+5 = 10, and that now you’re ready to hit and get another card worth 10 points – or an ace. If you split this, you take a pretty good hand and turn it into two really weak hands.
You have 20 points sitting in front of you – almost a foolproof hand as it is, unless someone ends up with 21. If you are counting cards, and you realize that the count is six or more for each remaining deck left in the shoe, then you might think about it, but remember that you already have a great hand, and you don’t want to end up with a 14 and a 16. If the dealer has a 5 or a 6, though, you might think about splitting, because your odds of having one hand that is still strong is high – at least stronger than the likely 14, 15 or 16 that is headed the dealer’s way – and the subsequent likely bust.
2s, 3s, 7s
Does the dealer show a card that’s a 2 through 7? Then consider splitting. If his card is an 8 or higher, simply hit and hope you get as close to 21 as possible.
If the dealer has a 2 through 6, split your six. If he shows a 7 or higher, take the hit.
If the dealer shows a 2 through 6, an 8 or a 9, split your 9s. If the dealer shows a 7, 10 or ace, just stand on that 18. You’re already pretty close to 21, and you want to gauge whether a bust is likely.