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Splitting Pairs

A. Antonova (editor) |

The Split Move in Blackjack and Its Intricacies

Splitting PairsWhile blackjack is a rather straightforward game to play, one could face puzzling situations requiring specific actions to reduce the house advantage. While it is perfectly fine to play without using any strategy, you will significantly reduce your long-term winning chances, which may also indicate shorter playing sessions to enjoy the card game.

Conveniently enough, blackjack aficionados have developed several blackjack strategies, with the basic strategy being widely recognized as the most advantageous system to use. Making decisions in blackjack based on the basic strategy will help you reduce the house edge, which may minimize your losses and help your bankroll last longer. If you take a look at a basic strategy chart, you will notice that “splitting” is one of the recommended moves on certain pair hands.

The split option often allows players to improve their winning chances, however, splitting is not the optimal move on every pair. If you are curious about this move and the ways you can use it correctly, you should check the rest of this article.

The Move Splitting

The Move SplittingWhen you are dealt two cards of the same rank, you have the chance to split them into two individual hands. They are separate hands and you should treat them as such, meaning that you should apply a different strategy for each one of them. Whenever you split a pair, you are required to put a bet whose amount is the same as your original wager. After you are dealt one card for each hand, you are ready to play them.

Blackjack Player Move Splitting

In most cases, if you get another pair, you are allowed to perform the same move once again which is often referred to as re-splitting. It is vital to become familiar with the best approach for all of the different pairs as only then, you will be able to handle such situations with ease.

Strategy For Splitting Pairs

Strategy For Splitting PairsAs already indicated, if you want to increase your chances of winning and get the most out of every hand, you should use an efficient strategy and apply it correctly throughout the game. The first thing that you need to know when you have two cards whose rank is identical is that you should treat such card combinations differently. Some pairs are extremely beneficial and require splitting in any case, whereas others shouldn’t be split. Let’s have a look at some of the pairs which you can get during the course of the game and how to cope with them successfully.

In order to manage to make the most of every situation, you should always follow a strategy and consider what the dealer is showing.

Best Moves for a Pair of 2s, 3s, 6s, and 7s

Best Moves for a Pair of 2’s, 3’s, 6’s and 7’sWe will discuss the pairs which consist of 2s, 3s, or 7s at the same time due to the fact that the strategy for them is the same. It is useful to try and group the pairs which have an identical or similar strategy as this way, you can remember them much easier. If you ever find yourself in a situation in which you have any of the aforementioned pairs in your hand, then your best options are two – to either split or hit. If the dealer’s up card is from two through seven, you should split the pair. The reason why it is beneficial for you to make this move is that the dealer is placed in a weak position.

In such cases, you should always try to accumulate as much money as you can because you have good chances of winning. When the dealer has an eight, a nine, a ten, or an ace, then your best move is to hit. If you split the pair in such situations, the total of any of the two new hands won’t be most likely sufficient to beat the dealer’s hand.

Having two 6s in your hand as your first two cards is considered to be a rather unfavorable way to start the game as your chances of busting are significantly high, providing that you hit. The strategy for this pair requires the same approach as for the rest of the above-mentioned pairs, except for the cases in which the dealer has a seven as then you should hit. The reason why you should refrain from splitting in this case is that if you do so, you will most likely end up with two weak hands.

Strategy for Splitting a Pair of 2s, 3s, 6s, and 7s in Blackjack
Pairs in Player’s HandThe up card of the dealer

Best Moves for a Pair of 4s

Best Moves for a Pair of 4’sWhenever you have two 4s, splitting is also among the best moves that you can make, however only in two cases. If the dealer’s up card is a five or a six, it is best to split this pair and form two new hands. The motive behind this move is that by splitting the two cards, you have a good chance of creating an advantageous situation in which you can double down. For the rest of the cases, you should hit due to the fact that the cards in the deck that work in your favor are more than the ones that will cause you to bust.

Strategy for Splitting a Pair of 4s in Blackjack
Pairs in Player’s HandThe up card of the dealer

Best Moves for a Pair of 9s

Best Moves for a Pair of 9’sIf you happen to receive two 9s, then in most cases you should split due to the fact that each hand will get a nine which is a fairly good start. Both new hands have decent chances of forming a strong total and beating the dealer, especially if they are in a weak position. If the up card is from two through six, an eight, or a nine, then you should perform this move. If the dealer is showing a seven, a ten, or an ace, it is advisable to simply stand. These moves are the best option when playing single-deck blackjack where the dealer stands on all 17s. If you opt for any other move, you will most likely end up losing your bet. By choosing to stand, you have a very good chance of beating the dealer or at least, have the same hand as his which is a tie.

Strategy for Splitting a Pair of 9s in Blackjack
Pairs in Player’s HandThe up card of the dealer

Splitting a Pair of Aces

Splitting a Pair of AcesAn ace is the most powerful card in blackjack as it provides players with flexibility. If you are a blackjack fan, you know that aces count as 1 or 11 depending on the players’ needs and form the so-called soft hands. Hence, a pair of aces can count as 2 or 12, which is not a good starting hand. This is the reason why splitting a pair of aces is your best option regardless of the dealer’s up card and the blackjack variation you play. By splitting your pair of aces, you will have two strong separate hands and cut down the house edge by 0.19%.

Once you split the pair of aces, each new hand with a starting point of 11 will be dealt one more card. Some casinos allow their players to resplit already split paired aces if any of the new hands are dealt with another ace. However, this is a very rare rule as it further increases players’ winning chances and reduces the house edge by 0.08%.

As a matter of fact, cards that count as 10 significantly outnumber the other cards in the deck in blackjack. Hence, you have good chances of drawing a ten and forming blackjack. If you play a single-deck blackjack, the total number of 10-valued cards is 16. After you are dealt 2 cards and the dealer holds one card, then the remaining cards in the deck are 49. This means that you have 16/49 = 0.3265 x 100 = 32.65% to win. That is why it is always better to split aces.

Splitting Paired 8s

Splitting Paired 8sIf you are interested in playing blackjack, you most likely heard that a pair of 8s is the worst hand one could get. But have you ever wondered what is wrong with this hand? Well, a pair of 8s is equal to hard 16. The likelihood of going bust if you do not split the pair is huge, meaning that hitting is not an option. On the other hand, standing is also not the best move as the hand is not strong enough and the dealer stands a good chance of having a better hand at the end. To surrender is an option, but only when the dealer’s up card is an ace or a ten and they hit on soft 17.

According to the basic strategy, splitting a pair of 8s is the right decision when the dealer’s up card shows anything between 2 through 9 regardless of the blackjack variation you are playing.

Never Split a Pair of 5s or 10s

Never Split a Pair of 10sWhen it comes to a pair of 5s or 10s, splitting is not a good idea. A pair of 5s means that the starting value of your hand is 10. Then, you have good chances of improving your hand without busting. If you are lucky enough to draw an ace, you will hit blackjack. On the other hand, if you split paired 5s, you will have two separate hands, each having a starting value of 5. Since splitting is not the optimal move, the best move you can do is to either double down or hit depending on the dealer’s up card. If the dealer holds 2 through 9, then you have to double down. Hitting a pair of 5s is the best move when the dealer’s up card is 10 or an ace.

Of all pairs you can get while playing blackjack, a pair of 10 is the most common because the 10-valued cards are the most in the deck. Hence, you should know how to act if you receive paired 10s. A pair of 10s is a very strong hand as it totals 20. Splitting paired 10s means that you will have two separate hands, each having a starting point of 10, which puts you in a less favorable position.

Rule Variations of Splitting in Blackjack

Rule Variations of Splitting in BlackjackThe rules regarding splitting can vary, depending on the casino and the version you are playing. In some games, you are allowed to split every pair. However when it comes to aces, you are limited to do so only once. In general, it is always best to check all of the rules regarding a pair of aces since it consists of two of the most powerful cards in the deck. It should be noted that if you manage to get blackjack as a result of split aces, it is considered simply as any other combination whose total is twenty-one. The payout in such cases is even money, not the usual 3:2 for a natural blackjack.

Sometimes it is permitted to double down after splitting but sometimes it is not. In the latter case, the house edge is increases by approximately 0.12%. You should always check the rules of the version you are going to play in advance so that you can alter your strategy accordingly. The rules regarding re-splitting can also differ from one casino to another. In some games, you have the chance to re-split pairs as many times as you wish, whereas in others you might be restricted to a limited number of hands.

When it comes to re-splitting aces, it should be noted that there are versions that completely deprive you of this option.


ConclusionBlackjack is an extremely exciting game which offers you the opportunity to influence the outcome of every hand by using a strategy. One of the card combinations which you can get during the course of the game is two cards of the same value. While it is true that there are many pairs which should be split, you need to also note that there are some which you should avoid splitting. In order to manage to handle such situations in a proper manner, it is advisable to get familiar with the best moves for them.

FAQ: Splitting Pairs in Blackjack

Splitting pairs helps players in several ways. It enables them to maximize their profits in certain situations and helps reduce their losses in others. In some cases, splitting can also potentially transform weak starting hands into winning hands.

Yes, you should. When you have two eights, that’s not a very strong starting hand. But if you split them, you get a fresh start with two new hands, which could end up being much better.

No, that’s never a good idea. A pair of tens is a strong hand because it adds up to 20. Splitting them is a risky move that could lower your chances of winning.

In multi-deck blackjack, splitting a pair of fours against the dealer’s 6 is recommended but only on condition players are allowed to double down after a split. If this is impossible, hitting is the second best move for this pair against a dealer’s 6.

Splitting pairs sounds cool, but it’s not always the smartest move. It can make your hand weaker in certain situations, depending on the dealer’s upcard.