Player Advantages in Blackjack—Pair Splitting

My last post talked about the advantage given to blackjack players when they double down. But this is not the only play that players have at their disposal that the dealer doesn’t.

Players are given these plays so that they can have a hand up on the dealer in terms of options to play with. A dealer can’t double down. He also can’t split a pair.

Splitting a pair can only happen when a blackjack player is dealt two cards worth the same, like being dealt an 8 of hearts and an 8 of spades. A blackjack player puts worth another wager equal to their first wager and the cards are then split into two hands, each to be played out like any other hand.

Whereas doubling down is more of an offensive blackjack play, splitting pairs is viewed as more of a defensive play.

For example, look at a pair of 8’s. The hand total here is 16. And since it doesn’t have an Ace it’s a hard 16. Typically you would be stuck standing, unless the dealer’s up card is 7 or higher. This isn’t a hand that we like since standing usually means a loss and hitting usually means busting.

But if it’s a hard 16 built with a pair of 8’s they can be split, and the blackjack player can start over with an 8 in each new hand; and an 8 would be hit against any dealer up card.

The reason this is a defensive play is because you have a chance at recovering your chances for winning. Think of it as giving your hand a second life—the hard 16 didn’t work, out so let’s try two hands that start with 8 and see what happens.

It’s hard to build a strong hand from a hard 16. Starting out with an 8 gives you the chance to go a second round at building a strong hand.

Just like with doubling down, this play has its advantages when played at the right time. The right time can easily be determined with basic strategy. Just check the chart for the best times to split a pair.

And not all pair should be split. Like a pair of 10’s. That is one of the strongest hands after a natural blackjack because the only thing that can beat it is if the dealer has a natural blackjack or hits to 21. Never throw away a pair of 10’s by splitting them.

But the point is to take advantage of the plays that dealers can’t make. But using them players can eat away the house edge, which will raise their own chances.