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What is a blackjack split and when is it appropriate?


What does split mean in blackjack? The split is offered when a player’s initial two-card hand includes two cards of the same value. 

It gives the player the option of splitting the cards into two separate hands, then receiving an additional card for each hand from the dealer. 

To split in blackjack, the player must place an additional bet on the newly created hand that is equal to the original bet they placed at the start of the game.

When to split in blackjack?

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In the game of blackjack there are certain hands that probability dictates it is favourable to split. There are also hands you should never split and some hands where the decision to split is based on what the dealer’s up-card is.

These aren’t rules that mean you will win every time you follow them, but you are more likely to win in the long run if you do so.

Always split

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1. Aces

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Cards with a value of ten are plentiful in blackjack, so it makes sense to split a pair of aces. 

If you don’t split your aces, one is given a value of one and the other a value of 11. 

This means only a nine can take you to 21 on your next card. Meanwhile, drawing a 10-valued card would necessitate counting both aces as ones, bringing you right back to 12.

2. Eights

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It’s important at this point to acknowledge that two eights is considered a fairly poor hand in blackjack, whether you split your initial hand or not.

Playing your pair of eights as one hand doesn’t leave you much wriggle room. Anything above a five will bust you. Splitting them gives you a better chance of a competitive hand.

Never split

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1. Tens 

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Splitting tens is not the percentage call because doing so dismantles a very promising hand that it is very unlikely you will better with either of your split hands.

2. Fours 

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When you have a pair of fours you can’t go bust with your next hit. The most you can get is 19, a decent total. If you split, only three cards can make your hands better than your original pair of fours, a five, six or seven.

3. Fives

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Wait a second. You’ve got 10. This is a great hand and you should double down unless the dealer has a nine, ten or ace. Splitting fives is likely to leave you with either a lower-value hand, or one that increases your chances of busting later in the hand.

When splitting depends on the dealer’s up-card

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1. You have twos, threes or sevens and dealer’s up-card is two to seven (inclusive)

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This trio of blackjack hands are generally regarded as stinkers. All come with the potential to bust in one or two hits. Split ’em. Probability dictates you’re more likely to improve your lot.

2. You have nines and dealer’s up-card is two to six (inclusive), eight or nine

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Hitting on 18 is madness, yet it’s a beatable hand so standing isn’t an amazing position either. Splitting is the percentage call in this situation.

3. You have sixes and dealer’s up-card is two to six (inclusive)

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Probability-wise you are more likely to defeat a dealer with an up-card in this range if you split your sixes than if you attempt to play them as a single hand. Splitting your sixes means you could get a ten. This puts you in a good place against a dealer who could well bust.

Blackjack split strategy charts

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Found the above info too wordy? Our blackjack split strategy charts distil the information.

Blackjack strategy for 4-8 decks, dealer stands on 17

Blackjack strategy for 4-8 decks, dealer hits on 17

Blackjack split rules

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It’s always necessary to check the rules of the type of blackjack you’re playing and for any adaptations at the land-based or online casino at which you’re playing. 

Split rules aren’t immune to this uncertainty. Here are some to double check before playing:

  1. Some casinos only allow splitting of ten-value cards if they’re the same rank. Splitting a 10-10 hand is fine, but not a jack-queen hand, for example.
  2. After the first split, doubling down and further splitting of hands may be limited.
  3. After the first split, an ace and a ten-card may be regarded as a non-blackjack 21.
  4. After splitting aces you’re generally not allowed to hit more than once.

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