Double Down and Pair Splitting All in One

This morning I talked about a house rule to work into your blackjack strategy in which the house rule actually favors the player. Well, there is another one. This particular house rules allows players to double down after they have they have split a pair.

The step by step breakdown of how this house rule works goes like this:

First you have to be dealt a pair. You then choose to split that pair and up your wager accordingly. Let’s say that you split a pair of 8s—which you are supposed to be splitting no matter what. Once those two 8s have been broken into new hands they then receive new second cards. We are going to say that one of those 8s receives a 2, making it a hard 10 against a dealer’s 6.

According to basic strategy you would double down on a hard 10 against a dealer’s 6. Normally you would not be allowed to double down after splitting a pair. But if you are playing in a blackjack game that does allow for doubling after splitting this would be the time to do so.

Doubling after splitting at advantageous times can lower the house edge by 0.14%, which is a nice hit to their edge. This is because doubling after splitting allows you to win more money from the house than you would if you were not allowed to double after splitting. But you have to do so only when it is advantageous.

How do you know if it is advantageous to double after splitting?

It is surprisingly easy. After splitting and receiving your new second cards for each of your new hands, check those new hands against a basic strategy chart as if each hand were the first two cards you had been dealt at the beginning of the round.

Using the above example, when I wound up with a hard 10 after splitting, I would check how to play a hard 10 against a dealer’s up card of 6 just as if I had been dealt that hard 10 from the beginning of the round.

Because of the 0.14% hit to the house’s edge, doubling after splitting is a good play to add to your blackjack strategy.

Blackjack Strategy for Aces

Aces are the strongest cards in the game of blackjack. This is because of their ability to be counted as an 11 or a 1. That flexibility is what makes them the strongest card.

Not to mention the fact that they are essential to having a natural blackjack.

But Aces are also strong because of how they work with pairs.

I have discussed how, when dealt a pair of Aces, you need to split them. This is because it increases your blackjack odds because it increases your chances of making money.

But there is another house rule that further increases the flexibility of Aces. And in increase in flexibility further increases your blackjack odds.

Sometimes casinos will allow for players to resplit Aces. This means that you are dealt a pair of Aces in your first two cards, you split them, then at least one of those new hands receives another Ace forming a second pair of Aces.

A fair number of casinos will not allow players to resplit such a second hand, and you would be stuck with a soft 12.

However there are times when the house rules are changed a bit, and players are allowed to resplit Aces. This house rule takes 0.06% away from the house’s edge because it increases your chances of winning and decreases their chances of taking your money.

While 0.06% is not a huge hit to the house’s edge, some is better than none. Blackjack strategy is about increasing your chances of winning which increases your blackjack odds. So even though resplitting Aces is not a huge decrease it is still a decrease. On top of that a second pair of Aces is not a common happening which is another reason for the low hit to the house’s edge.

But it should still be worked into your blackjack strategy for the hit it does to the house’s edge.

Blackjack Strategy: More Pair Splitting!

This is the last of the pair splitting post, I swear. But what would a mutli-part discussion on pair splitting blackjack strategy be without a post devoted to pairs of 8s? It would be incomplete, that is what. So here it is blackjack strategy meets a pair of 8s.

Unlike pairs of 5s and 10s, and like a pair of Aces, a pair of 8s should always be split.

Why do you not split a pair of 8s?

Let me ask you what is 8 + 8? The answer is 16. So a pair of 8s is the same thing as a hard 16. And we all know how much we hate that hand. Nothing worse than a stiff hand, and a hard 16 is the worst. It is not high enough to win with, and it is also too high to hit.

In my opinion a hard 16 is the worst hand to have in blackjack. The only way you can win with it is if the dealer busts because there are five totals that are higher than your 16, all of which the dealer can stand on.

If that alone is not enough to convince you not to split your pair of 8s, ask yourself which you would rather have: one 16 that does not have a decent shot at winning. Or would you rather have two hands that each start with 8?

You should have said two hands that start with 8. This is because, while the chances are not stellar, you do have a better chance of building a stronger hand by starting each hand with an 8 than you do of winning with a hard 16.

Splitting a pair of 8s is on a basic strategy chart, which is legal to use in brick and mortar casinos and in online blackjack. But you have to use it, to make it a part of your blackjack strategy, in order for it to be effective. That includes splitting a pair of 8s when it tells you to. And besides it is just good blackjack strategy to split 8s.

Blackjack Strategy: More on Pair Splitting…or Not Splitting

I was thinking some more about commonly made blackjack mistakes, and I got to thinking more about pair splitting and blackjack strategy. I know I mentioned how some pairs should be split and some should not, that is just how blackjack strategy is supposed to be.

Blackjack players just do not seem to apply any blackjack strategy to their game when it comes to pairs. They can usually be divided into two ways of dealing with pairs: they either split everything just for the sake of splitting a pair, or they play their pairs like hard hands. And both ways are wrong and not good blackjack strategy. Not to mention it hurts a player’s blackjack odds.

Some pairs are meant to be split and other are meant to not be split. Two pairs that are not meant to be split is a pair of 5s and a pair of 10s.

Do not get hung up on the fact that you have a pair. Look instead at what the hand total is. A pair of 5s totals in at 10, and a pair of 10s total in at 20. With either pair you are holding a hard 10 or a hard 20.

Both of those hands are good hands to have in blackjack.

A hard 10 is one of the hands that offers the most opportunities to double down. And we all know that doubling down will hit the house edge for 1.6% when done at advantageous times. The chance to win more and to hit the house edge should not be thrown away just to split a pair for the sake of splitting.

And a hard 20 is one of the strongest hands in blackjack! The only way the dealer can beat that hand is to have a natural blackjack or to hit to 21. So your chances of winning are a lot stronger with a pair of 10s than if you were to split them.

The point is that pair should not be played like hard hands or split just for the sake of splitting. The best thing for a player to do is grab a basic strategy chart and use that for their blackjack strategy. It will tell players what pairs to split when.

Blackjack Strategy: Splitting Aces

To go along with the stories of mistakes made while playing blackjack, I will talk about another one this afternoon: splitting Aces. Similar to how soft hands are often misplayed, pairs are often misplayed, although soft hands are more often played wrong than pairs. A lack of blackjack strategy is involved here.

And while players do not seem willing to embrace the aspect that makes a soft hand soft, players will fall into one of two camps in regards to splitting pairs: split them all or split none of them.

And neither blackjack camp is correct.

Good blackjack strategy has players not splitting some pairs and splitting others. One of those pairs that, according to good blackjack strategy, should be split all of the time is a pair of Aces.

Think about it. If you value both Aces at 11 it gives you a hand total of 22, which is stupid and an instant bust. And valuing them both at 1 seems rather silly. We are left to value one card at 11 and one at 1, which is a hand total of 12. Uh oh, you now have a hard 12, one of the infamous stiff hands. What is a blackjack player to do?

Split those Aces!

It does not matter what the dealer’s up card is, a pair of Aces is always split–your blackjack odds are better overall to do so.

Splitting a pair of Aces gives you two hands that both start at 11, which is solid ground to stand on to build two strong hands. In fact there is not a single card that you can draw that would bust you; a card worth 2 through 10 would give you a total of 13 through 21. If you were to receive another Ace you could split again if house rules allowed you to, or would be left with a 12—which is no worse than how you started.

When thinking about your blackjack strategy ask yourself which you would rather have: a single hard 12 or two hands that start at 11? When considering blackjack strategy the answer should be simple. Split, split, split.

Blackjack Strategy: Things Not to Do

No one is a perfect blackjack player. Well, professional players might come close, but still, no one is perfect.

In blackjack there are strategy plays that have good intentions that end poorly, but the point is that you played the correct play based on basic strategy—the dealer just wound up with a better hand. But then there are full on blackjack strategy mistakes. In fact, forget calling them blackjack strategy mistakes. Some of the plays people make are just flat out mistakes.

Take this one woman I saw on a casino cruise. We were playing at a full table and she was dealt a pair of Aces. Does she split the pair like basic strategy says to? No. Instead she hits, winding up with a three card soft 15, which she stands on.

The dealer then hits twice and ends with a hard 17. Three of us at the table won, two gentlemen busted (that is the tough thing about being dealt a stiff hand) and the other two players lost. Yes, one of those who lost was the woman with the soft 15.

Two mistakes this woman made: 1. She did not split her Aces, and 2. She stood on a soft 15.

First off you should always, always split a pair of Aces. Basic strategy will also tell you to always split a pair of Aces. It starts you off with a strong 11 to build on, and often you will be able to build two pretty strong hands.

Not splitting is guaranteed to give you a soft hand that gives you more potential to lose to the dealer with than to build anything significant.

But if you are inexperienced enough to not split your pair of Aces and you do find yourself with a soft hand, make up for not splitting by following basic strategy. This means that you will most likely be hitting again.

As for that woman’s soft 15, there is no reason not to hit a soft 15. One Ace has already been reduced to 1; there is nothing to stop the other Ace from being reduced if necessary. And that is why there is no reason not to hit a three card soft 15.

Blackjack strategy is there to help you. It can hit the house’s edge and increase the money pull in from blackjack by increasing your opportunities of winning. This is why I always tell novice players to stick to basic strategy…and always split a pair of Aces!

Blackjack Strategy for Splitting 9s—Part III

Yesterday I discussed splitting a pair of 9s and how your blackjack strategy should go. Despite the hand total on a pair of 9s being 18, this is still a pair that you will want to split. When faced with a dealer’s up card of 2 through 6 or an 8 was covered yesterday. In those cases you split because the dealer can beat your 18 with three of the five hand totals he could hit to.

See that last line? The reason behind why you are splitting a pair of 9s against those dealer up cards? That is one of the points behind blackjack strategy. It is all well and fine to memorize and then automatically turn out the best play. But understanding why you are making that play is key to mastering your blackjack strategy, and allowing for further blackjack strategy finesses, such as card counting.

Now when you are facing a dealer’s up card of 9 I could simply tell you that you split your pair of 9s there too and be done with it. But since you are interested in mastering your blackjack strategy I am going to tell you why you are splitting those 9s.

Yes, you split a pair of 9s against a dealer’s 9 to improve your standing in that round, but it is just a little harder since the dealer has a 9 too. And there are a few cards that can help you, depending on house rules of course.

If you are dealt a 10 or Ace on one of your split 9s you just bettered your original hand to have a 19 or 20. So you can increase your chances of winning there. And you have a five out of thirteen shot of being dealt one of those cards.

You also have a one in thirteen chance of being dealt a 2, which would give you a hand total of 11. And you of course know that with an 11 your next move in blackjack strategy is to double down.

Finally if you are dealt another 9 you can split again if the house rules allow you to do so. And if they do not you are no worse off than you were when you started. So being dealt a 9 is another one out of thirteen.

So off all the cards that improve your hand or cause your hand total to break even there are seven out of thirteen chances. That leaves six cards that could potentially worsen your hand. But notice that by splitting you have a slight edge in doing so: seven cards can improve your hand while 6 will worsen it.

Now you can see why you need to split a pair of 9s when facing down a dealer’s 9—you have a slight edge in improving your hand. And either improving your hand or minimalizing your losses is desired end result of blackjack strategy.

Blackjack Strategy for Splitting 9s—Part II

This morning I began talking about blackjack strategy for when you are dealt a pair of 9s. As you might recall I left off by saying that when holding a pair of 9s when the dealer is showing a 2 through 6 or an 8, the best play to make is to split.

While an 18 is a strong there are three hands that the dealer can hit to with one of those up cards and still beat the player. Three out of the five possible hands I should say. And the last time I checked, that was more than 50%, which puts the player at the disadvantage. So that leaves splitting those 9s.

If you are playing in a game of blackjack that allows for doubling after splitting then you gain a little on your blackjack odds: a 0.15% to your odds in fact. And here is why:

Once you split you have two hands that are starting at 9, which is a nice strong card to start with. Let’s say that your next card is a 2, which gives you an 11. You can double down on that 11 and further increase your chances of turning a profit.

Or if you are playing in a game that allows for resplitting and are dealt another 9 you can split again. Sure you have three hands open at that point, but they all have strong starting points. And resplitting adds another 0.08% to your blackjack odds.

What else can you do with that 9? Well, if you are dealt an Ace, it gives you a hand total of 20. And that is a good hand to stand on. A 10 or a face card will also put you in a nice spot with a hard 19.

Now I have not talked about blackjack strategy when you are holding a pair of 9s and the dealer is also holding a 9. The reasoning there for your blackjack strategy is a little bit different. Whereas splitting against a dealer’s 2 through 6 or an 8 works to help improve your chances of a net gain, splitting against a dealer’s 9 is meant more to reduce your net losses. But I will talk more about that one tomorrow morning.

Blackjack Strategy for Splitting 9s

Every now and then we are dealt what can seem like a strong hand, but in reality it is deceptively strong. I say deceptively strong because while in ordinary blackjack strategy, meaning ordinary hard hands, their hand totals would be fine. But what if they are not ordinary hard hands?

Okay, enough with the mystique. I am talking about those rascally hands that either have Aces or are made up of a pair. In particular I am talking about a certain pair: a pair of 9s.

I know when I have discussed pair splitting blackjack strategy that I have said to pay attention to what the hand total is and to not only focus on the joyous fact that you are holding a pair. In the case of a pair of 9s the hand total is 18. If you were playing this hand out like you would an ordinary hard hand you know that you would stand on an 18. But this is not an ordinary hard 18.

This is a pair of 9s, and because it is not ordinary you want to play it out in the most advantageous way. This means that if the dealer has a 2 through 6 or an 8 that you want to split that pair of 9s.

Let’s compare shall we?

If you were to stand on a pair of 9s against those dealer up cards you would yield a profit over a large number of rounds. In other words you would need to play a lot of rounds and be dealt a lot of pairs of 9s in order to make that 18 profit. This is because of there are only five totals the dealer can hit to that would not bust him, and three of those five beat your 18. The odds on standing on a pair of 9s against a 2 through 6 or an 8 are not with you.

So what strategy options do you have left? You can hit, which is very not smart in terms of blackjack strategy, or you can split. And splitting is the way to go.

Check back this afternoon for the whys in splitting a pair of 9s. After all, your blackjack strategy is not just about knowing what play to make, but about knowing why you are making it.

Blackjack Strategy: Pair Splitting on 8s

We began discussing this morning the pairs that the smart blackjack player will always split, starting with Aces. But there is one more pair that it is in a player’s blackjack strategy to always split: a pair of 8s.

Thankfully a pair of 8s does not require a lot of description. It is two cards with an 8 on each card. There. That is a pair of 8s.

I have noticed that blackjack players who are novices tend to swing from one side to the far other side. In terms of pair splitting strategy this means that they will start out by splitting every pair because it is a pair and it can be split.

So when they learn that pairs of 5s and 10s should never, ever be split they take that to heart and apply it to all pairs, becoming unwilling to split a thing.

Thankfully they will soon learn that Aces and 8s are two pairs that need to be split.

So on to a pair of 8s. First, do the math. Adding up 8 and 8 gives you a hard 16, which is the worst stiff hand that you could be dealt in the whole game. It is too high to hit effectively—although I know you are playing by basic strategy and hitting it against a dealer’s 7 through Ace. But it is always just a little too low when standing.

It is an underdog hand that just never seems to come out on top as often as you want it to. Your only real hope of winning with a hard 16 is that the dealer will bust. And onlinecasinosuite is agreeable with this.

So let me ask you this: knowing how awful a hard 16 is to play with and that you have better chances of losing with it, why would you not split a pair of 8s as a pair of 8s unsplit is a hard 16.

While starting a hand with an 8 is not the strongest ground you can stand on, you stand a better fighting chance with an 8 than you do with a hard 16.

So work it into your blackjack strategy that while not splitting is good, some splitting is necessary. And splitting a pair of 8s should definitely be in your blackjack strategy as a pair to split.