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Pairs in Blackjack

A. Antonova (editor) |

Pairs – to Split, or Not to Split, That is the Question

Pairs in BlackjackBlackjack has multiple variations both at land-based and online casinos but there are some basics that all versions of the game share. Whenever the player is dealt two initial cards, there are several possibilities for combinations, including getting a pair. As a skill-based game, blackjack allows players to reduce the house edge to the lowest possible rate by using a basic blackjack strategy. Optimal moves also include making the right choice on certain pairs, with some hands suggesting splitting a pair, while other rank-identical cards would offer better play when they stay together.

Handling pairs the correct way requires some practice and a good knowledge of this type of blackjack hands. With pairs being so common in the game, you might also come across blackjack variations that would offer side bets that pay on players getting a pair. That further implements the importance of knowing the correct way to play pairs and our article can definitely help you with that.

Pairs That Should Be Never Split

Pairs That Should Be Never SplitsIn blackjack, there are two pairs that you should refrain from splitting in any case as if you do so, you will most likely lose or end up in a worse position than before. In general, you should split your hand only when you have a decent chance of making two strong hands. This is the reason why when you get a pair of 10s or 5s, you should avoid this move as it will only place you in a disadvantageous position.

The hand that consists of two 10s has always been the center of attention. Over the years, many heated discussions regarding this hand have been conducted as this pair has proven to be rather tricky. Most gambling experts advise that whenever you get two 10s, it is best to never split them. Instead, you should always stand, regardless of the up card of the dealer. The reason why is that this is one of the best hands in blackjack that you can get and if you split it, you simply ruin your chances of winning.

Surprising as it may sound, a pair of 10s is one of the most misplayed hands in blackjack due to the fact that many players fail to see through it. The fact that the average winning hand is estimated to be 18.5 points and that the aforementioned pair totals twenty clearly indicates that your best move is to simply stand.

It is almost impossible to improve such a beneficial hand and if you decide to make any other move, you will most likely lose. In most cases, having a total of twenty is sufficient in order to beat the dealer and therefore, the best you can do in such situations is to simply let the game continue.

The other hand which you should never split consists of a pair of 5s and this combination also requires a different approach. The reason why is that if you split it, you will most likely end up with two hands whose chances of getting a decent total are very low. Initially, when you are dealt a pair of 5s, your hand totals ten which gives you a fairly good start in the game. However, if you split this hand, you will simply make two weak hands out of one strong.

This time instead of splitting, you should double down or hit, depending on the up card of the dealer. If the dealer is showing two through nine, you should double down due to the fact that the dealer is in a weak position and you should try to make the most of this situation. This way you have the chance to increase your wager when the odds work in your favor. If the dealer shows a ten, or an ace, then it is best to hit and try to improve your hand.

Besides your two initial cards, you should also take into account the up card of the dealer, the number of decks included in the game, and the dealer’s play rules to make an optimal move.

Pairs Which Should Be Always Split

Pairs Which Should Be Always SplitUnlike the cases in which you have a pair of 5s and 10s, there are some situations that always require splitting. For instance, whenever you have a pair of 8s, you should opt for a split at any time. The position of many proficient blackjack players towards a pair of 8s is that one should always split, regardless of what the dealer is showing. However, this combination is considered to be one of the trickiest hands. It is really important to take your time to consider the possible moves associated with this hand if you do not want to leave the casino empty-handed.

Having a pair of 8s in your hands gives you a total of sixteen. On the one hand, most likely, this total won’t be enough to beat the dealer, taking into account that the average winning hand is 18.5 points. On the other hand, if you attempt to improve it by getting one more card, your chances of going over twenty-one and busting are too high.

The position you are in is very disadvantageous and it should be considered carefully beforehand. When you split this pair, there is no guarantee that the two new hands will form a good total, however, it is perhaps your best option.

Blackjack Player Move Splitting

Another hand which is recommended to be split consists of two aces. The ace is the most powerful card in the deck and therefore, whenever you have such a pair, it is essential to know what your best option is.. If you know how to proceed in such challenging situations, you will be able to get the most out of every game.

You should always split paired aces regardless of the blackjack variation you play and the dealer’s up card. In fact, a pair of aces is a soft hand that totals 12 or 2 as aces can count as 1 or 11. Hence, it is better to split paired aces and form two separate hands, each of them having a strong starting value of 11. In that way, you improve your chances of winning by playing with two strong hands at the same time. In addition, you have very good chances of drawing a ten-valued card and hitting a blackjack as a single deck consists of a total of sixteen ten-valued cards. Of course, there are a few exceptions to the rule. If you play no hole card game, then you should hit your paired aces if the dealer’s up card is an ace and split in all other cases.

Strategy for Splitting Pairs in Blackjack
Pairs in Player’s HandThe up card of the dealer

Important Considerations

Important ConsiderationsBlackjack is a card game with many different variations which are just as widespread and popular as the classic game. These versions use the same basic rules as the original game. However, they also have some additional rules and features. One of the rules that can vary, depending on the blackjack variation and the casino concerns splitting. This is the reason why you should always double-check the rules of the game in advance in order to make sure they are not altered in favor of the casino.

However, other variations have certain restrictions when it comes to splitting on the number of times or on the type of cards that you are allowed to split. You should also double-check whether doubling down after splitting is permitted and whether you are allowed to split aces. In general, if you are deprived of the option to split a pair, this increases the house edge by approximately 0.57%. If splitting aces is not allowed, as you might suggest, this also works in favor of the casino as it increases the house edge by 0.10%. In case you are allowed to re-split aces, this is beneficial for you as it gives you an advantage of 0.32%.

Some games allow splitting on any two cards and you are permitted to do so as many times as you wish. These rules work in favor of the player, significantly cutting down the house edge.


ConclusionWhile playing blackjack, a hand which you will inevitably get at some point during the game consists of two cards of the same value. If you want to be able to handle these cases successfully, you should be prepared in advance. It is highly recommended to learn all possible moves in order to know which one is your best option and which one you should avoid depending on the current situation. For instance, when you have a pair of 10s and you know that your chances of busting are incredibly high if you hit, you will avoid this move. Mastering the basic strategy will hlep you decide when splitting is the optimal decision, but you still need to remember that splitting will not always guarantee a win.