Should You Split Pairs In Blackjack?

Do you when when to split pairs in blackjack?

Blackjack is one of the more accessible casino games. Basic blackjack strategy is easy to learn, but people struggle when to split pairs and when to hit on them. Struggle no more because we have the low-down on when to split pairs and when not to.

New blackjack players often wrongly assume hitting 21 is the only way to win. Hitting 21 or receiving a blackjack hand is great, but there is more to the game than that. There are tactics involved because of the rules the dealer follows.

Rules vary from casino to casino but forcing the dealer to draw to 16 and stand on all 17 is most common in online casinos. This means the dealer has to keep drawing cards until he hits at least 16. You use this rule to your advantage by basing your plays on their face-up card.

You do this by putting the risk of busting on the dealer. Let them take on Lady Luck and see how they fare. For example, the dealer is showing a 4 and you have 14, standing is the best play here. Why? Because they must draw at least two cards in this scenario. Aces are worth 11 so they have 15 if they hit an ace and they have to draw to 16. Even hitting a 2, 3, or 4, for example, means drawing at least another card.

Pairs are trickier to play. Should you split pairs or hit another card? Let’s find out right now.

Hit, Stand, or Split Pairs in Blackjack?

Four possible pairs in blackjack play themselves so commit them to memory.

Never split pairs of fives and never split pairs of 10s. It should be obvious to the reasons why. A pair of fives equals 10 and there are more 10s in the deck than any other card. This means a 10 is most likely of all others to be your next card, putting you on 20.

It’s a similar reason with 10s. You already have 20 which beats everything except blackjack so why split pairs of 10s? It is far too risky. What if you split a pair of 10s only to receive fours on each. You’re in a horrible spot. Just stand and hope the dealer doesn’t hit 21!

Eights and aces are the other two pairs that are super simple to remember. Always split pairs of eights and always split pairs of aces. You always split pairs of eights because we know 10s are the most common card in the deck. Hitting 18 gives you a solid chance of winning.

Splitting aces gives you the chance of hitting 21 twice. Maximising your expected value is key to continued success. What better way to maximise potential than giving yourself the chance of two 21s?

Cheat Sheet For Splitting Pairs in Blackjack

All other possible pairs require some thinking before deciding whether or not to split them. The table below shows all the best strategy when you split pairs in blackjack. Your pairs are down the left column, the dealer’s face cards go across the top row.

Don’t worry if you can’t remember this off by heart, just bookmark this page and return to it when you’re playing blackjack online.

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
2,2 Ph Ph P P P P H H H H
3,3 Ph Ph P P P P H H H H
4,4 H H H Ph Ph P H H H H
6,6 Ph P P P P H H H H H
7,7 P P P P P P H H H H
8,8 P P P P P P P P P P
9,9 P P P P P S P P S S
A,A P P P P P P P P P P
  • H = Hit
  • S = Stand
  • P = Split
  • Ph = Split only if double after split is allowed, otherwise hit