Pairs to Not Keep in Blackjack

Just like how there are certain pairs in blackjack that should always be unsplit, there are some pairs that should always, always be split. So we’re going to take a look at two of those pairs: the Ace/Ace and the 8/8.

First let’s peer closely at the Ace/Ace. We love Aces. We all love to be dealt them. They are the necessary card for a natural blackjack. But as far as pairs come—pairs that are split, this discussion now excludes unsplit pairs—the Ace/Ace pair is the best one to be dealt.

Why’s that?

This is the blackjack hand that has three chances at building a good hand. Obviously you can’t play an Ace/Ace with both Aces being counted as 11’s. So you would have to play one as an 11 and one as a 1, making 12. Not an advantageous hand at all.

So naturally if you had the choice of playing a hand of 12 or splitting your Aces, you would of course split them. Now you have two hands that each start with an Ace. Splitting the Aces was that hand’s second chance.

Now you’re playing out your two new hands. But you have an advantage over other pair splits because you can reduce each Ace from 11 to 1 if you need to should you hit too much. That is your hand’s third chance.

It’s way more advantageous to split a pair of Aces in blackjack than leave them together, so split those Aces!

Now the reason for splitting a pair of 8’s is easy to see. What is the hand total of 8/8? 16. A hard 16. And that is one hand you don’t want to have. It’s one of the worst of the stiff hands because it’s very easy to hit and bust, which is why you usually have to stand on it.

But with a hand made up of two 8’s you have the option to split them and give your hand a second chance. With each hand starting with an 8 you can be pretty confident in your hitting and have a better shot of building a strong hand than if you played those 8’s as a hard 16.

Splitting these hands is about taking advantage of being dealt a pair in which your blackjack odds are better to split than play them as hard hands.

Pairs to Keep in Blackjack

Have you ever thrown a good thing away?

Have you ever split a pair of 10’s or 5’s?

If so, then, yes, you have thrown a good thing away.

The thing with those two pairs is that they’re worth more as a pair than split. I know, splitting pairs is one of those novel plays that you don’t get to make all that often. It’s not like hitting or standing in blackjack. Or even doubling down. Splitting can only be done when you’ve been dealt two of the same card. Not exactly the most common of starting hands.

So when we get dealt a pair we tend to get all excited and want to make that special play. But sometimes a pair played as a hard hand is more valuable than playing it with a split.

Those pairs are 10/10 and 5/5.

First off a hand made up of 10/10 is one of the strongest hands you could be dealt. It has a hard total of 20. The only hands that the dealer can have to beat you is a natural blackjack or hitting to 21; of course, a dealer’s 20 would cause a push but at least you won’t have lost you wager.

The point is that a hard 20 is a hard hand to beat. That is why it is best played unsplit.

Now that 5/5 is worth more as a hard 10 because you can double down on it. So you still get one of those fun special blackjack plays.

Granted you’re still doubling your original blackjack wager but a hard 10 is one of those hands that has a higher chance of success as a double down than other hands. If you were to split those 5’s you’d still be wagering that doubled amount, but you’d have to win with both hands to win the same amount you would with a successful double downed 10. And it’s hard to build strong hands on a 5.

So while you might get that excitable urge to split any and all pairs that come to your hands, remember that good blackjack strategy dictates that some pairs shouldn’t be split.