Appreciate Your Pairs

It’s a shame to see novice blackjack players misplay their pairs. But then when first learning blackjack, many just focus on whether to hit or stand. It takes some time before they feel comfortable expanding their betting comfort zone with double downs and splits. But it’s the splits we’re going to look at today.

For one thing being dealt a pair is not only a chance to win on two hands; it offers an opportunity that dealers just don’t get. Players can split their pairs while dealers just have to stick it out as a hard hand.

Let’s look at one of our favorite pairs to be dealt: two Aces.

The beauty for players is that we can, and always should, split those Aces. This is where the novice player needs to take a deep breath and put out the extra money to split those Aces. The reason is that this is a strong split to makes is because you can start each new hand with an 11. You’re half way to winning. Or at least to a strong hand.

And if you’re in a land-based casino and counting cards you have a little extra advantage. You’ll know if the remaining deck is rich in high cards or not. And if it is, it is especially important to split Aces.

And if worse comes to worse and you hit too high, you can reduce the value of those Aces from 11 to 1. So in a sense each of these new hands has the potential of a second chance.

Now we’ll look at the dealer. If a dealer is dealt a pair of Aces he is stuck with a hard 12 because he can’t split pairs. And we all know what it’s like to play with a stiff hand. You are in a more advantageous position than he is.

This is why learning when to split pairs and double down is important. Those are the two plays that you can make that put you in a better place than the dealer. And because those are plays that the dealer can’t make it is those plays that contribute significantly to lowering the house edge to 0.5%.