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Blackjack Splitting Pairs Strategy Guide

Splitting pairs strategy is important as it allows to double your bet in favorable cases where you have a high potential for winning.

It seems that blackjack players are too eager to use this option, even when it even lowers their chances for winning. This is caused due to a lack of understanding of the basic blackjack splitting pairs strategy, which is presented to you in this guide.

Rule of thumb - Always split Aces and eights and never split fives and tens. Let me explain the thinking behind this decisions:

  • Pair of Aces - According to the blackjack splitting strategy you should always split a pair of Aces - since 30.7% of the cards in a single deck have a value of 10 you have high chances for hitting two more 10-value cards and to improve both your hands into a blackjack.. Note: usually the house will not pay 3:2 for a blackjack if a split of pairs was made.
  • Pair of Face Cards or Tens - Do not split, a hand value of 20 is a winning hand and there's a negative expected return in a case of splitting such pairs.
  • Pair of Nines - Split, even though 18 is a high value for a hand in blackjack, but still, remember that 30.7% of the cards are 10-value cards, this means that you may be able to improve your hand into to separate hands 19-value hands. Notice: do not split when the dealer's up card is a 7, 10/Face card or an Ace. In such cases the odds are into your favor that his final hand's value would be less than 18.
  • Pair of Eights - A total of 16 is not good enough to stand but in the same way, risky to hit as you have 62% chance to bust. That is why it is logical to split a pair of Eights.
  • Pair of Sevens - There's a 56% chance for busting with a hand value of 14, that's why splitting is advised unless the dealer has an 8 or higher as his up card. In such cases the dealer might go bust easily or he may still win if he receive a Ten or a face card, which easily would beat your Sevens even if you would get an Ace, a Ten or a face Card.
  • Pair of Sixes - There's a 31% chance for busting with a hand value of 12 so whether so split or not isn't quite clear. If the dealer's up card is 4/5/6 split, otherwise you should not split.
  • Pair of Fives - When dealt a pair of fives you should stand. think about it, a pair of fives is a total of ten, and most of the cards in the deck are valued as ten as well, which gives you a good chance for a good hand.
  • Pair of Fours - A pair of fours has not chances to bust when hitting, and you have a 30.7% chance to improve your hand to a 18 value hand. The splitting pairs strategy here that you should only when the dealer's up card is 5/6.
  • Pair of Threes or Deuces - Is advisable if the dealer's up card is 4/5/6/7. This still leaves you a decent chance for winning the hand. But in general a pair of the above is a tricky and should only be played when the dealer's up card is 4/5/6/7.

Please note that splitting pairs is a great option for players, although some blackjack tables and online blackjack casinos have restrictions when a split is taking place. This affects the splitting pairs strategy so be sure to check the game rules before playing.

Sam Marshall - Editorial Staff - 14th February, 2006