Blackjack Pair Splitting Strategy
The possibility to split a pair was introduced in blackjack as a way to lower the house edge, but unfortunately a lot of players tend to split their pairs without any mathematical thought behind it. It could be that a pair is split every time one is being dealt or the other way around – that the split option is never used. This has resulted in an advantageous option for us players becoming a way for the house to increase their edge even further.
In the following article we’ll however make sure to put an end to this. By using the optimal strategy, basic strategy, we will teach you when it’s mathematically correct to split a pair. Not only will this lead to some of your losing hands becoming winning ones in the long run, but you’ll also be able to maximize your winnings and minimize your losses.
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How pair splitting is used
When you aim to play optimally by using basic strategy, the question whether or not you should split a pair is the second one you should ask yourself. The first one to ask is always whether or not it’s better to give up the hand by using the surrender option. If the answer is no to that question and you’re looking down at a pair, it’s then time to ask yourself if a split would be beneficial or not.
If you would like to split a hand, this must always be done before hitting a card or choosing to double down. The alternative will also only be available when you’re dealt two cards of the same value. If you for instance were dealt 4 – 4, you can choose to play the hand as a value of eight or split it into two hands that each has a value of four. If you choose to split, you would have to place an extra bet at the same amount as your original bet so that both hands would each have a stake of the same value.
When you should use pair splitting
When it’s mathematically correct for you to split a pair depends on the number of decks in play, what the table rules are, what type of pair you have been dealt and what the dealer’s card is showing.
If the dealer has to hit on soft 17 or not usually doesn’t impact the pairs that are correct to split, even though there are a few exceptions. What on the other hand has a great impact is if it’s allowed to double down after a split or not. If this is allowed at the table it’s mathematically correct to split a lot more pairs than if it’s not allowed. If surrender is offered at the table or not also has an impact, but only on a few hands.
In the tables below you’ll find information about which pair should be split depending on what the dealer’s card is showing, how many decks are being used and what the table rules state. You’ll find your starting hand in the most left column, whereas the rest of the columns show what card the dealer must have for a split to be mathematically correct.
S17 means that the dealer must hit on all soft 17, whereas H17 means that the dealer must stand on 17, no matter the cards. DAS is short for “doubling after split” and NDAS for “no doubling after split”, which shows if it’s allowed to double after a split or not.
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