Splitting is a sometimes tricky play in blackjack. Many players do not execute it at the right times, but that can be reversed with practice and by applying strategy. But perhaps the trickiest to logic out is splitting Aces.
When dealt a pair of Aces, you have the choice of playing it as a 22, which is just silly, or of playing it as a 12, making it a stiff hand. Or you can split the pair of Aces and wind up with two individual hands each starting with 11. This is a much stronger way of starting a hand than with a 12.
The only downside to splitting a pair of Aces is that most casinos will only allow a player to receive one card on each Ace once they are split. The same rule often applies in online blackjack games as well. That is how good the odds are on split Aces—the casinos must insert a rule that limits what a blackjack player can do with their split Aces. There are some blackjack games and blackjack variations that will not limit a player to one card per Ace, however.
But even with the one card per Ace rule, splitting Aces still carries good odds on winning. Players have a 60% chance of winning when they split a pair of Aces, leaving only a 40% chance for a loss. In fact there is no dealer up card that a player goes against in which the odds are below 50%. Staring down a face card with a split pair of Aces still has players with a 54% chance of winning.
The reason behind this is that the Ace is the strongest card in the deck. Add to that the fact that there are more ten value cards in the game; those ten values cards, while not giving a split Ace a winning blackjack, they do give the player the next highest hand: 21.
Bear in mind that while the odds are in favor of the player when it comes to splitting Aces in blackjack, the odds are not 100%–bear in mind that there will be losses. You cannot win every time, but splitting Aces have a better shot of winning than if you were to not split them.
It seems that come casinos will take one approach to what happens when a blackjack player splits Aces. Some will go with a more greedy approach in that they will only allow players to receive one more card after splitting a pair of Aces. In other words they treat it like a double down.
Then you have casinos that are on the more enlightened side of blackjack. They will allow blackjack players to hit for more cards after splitting Aces. This difference, while it sounds small, can actually make an impact on the house edge to the tune of 0.14% off their edge, which improves your own blackjack odds.
So why is this house rule such a big deal?
First off splitting Aces is not a double down and it shouldn’t be treated as such because it isn’t a double down but a splitting of a pair. From this point of view it almost seems like a cheap shot by the casinos who are too scared of their blackjack players. Yes, fear me for I am a blackjack player! Roar!
Another point of contention is that this rule of only being able to split and receive one more card only applies to pairs of Aces and no other pair. Seems a little one sided. I know that Aces are the strongest cards that a blackjack player can receive, but to really fear it this much is just silly. It’s like those little kids who make up rules because they’re sissies. “You can only have one more card when you split Aces, so na na na na!”
I think the reason that casinos put this rule in place is because they really do fear a blackjack player with an Ace. This could be because an Ace is halfway to 21, the next strongest hand behind a natural blackjack. They’re thinking that if the player is lucky and receives a low card then they might have a shot at a decent hand. But in most cases, the player will either have to reduce the Ace to 1to avoid busting or they are stuck with a stiff hand. Either way these scaredy cat casinos are trying to set a blackjack player up to lose.
This is why any blackjack player worth their chips should avoid games in which the casino treats Ace splitting like a double down. Look for blackjack games where you aren’t limited on how many cards you can receive after splitting a pair of Aces.