How Splitting in Blackjack Works?
What splitting in blackjack means is that when your hand consists of two cards with similar value, you can split them by placing additional bet, creating two hands that will be played separately. The option to split is of enormous value; if it’s used wisely of course.
The basic idea behind splitting cards, besides the obvious goal of increasing your winnings, is twofold. First, to improve weak hands, splitting 8s are a clear example for that. Second, to increase possible winnings on stronger hands, for example splitting Aces.
As with every blackjack rule, things are very simple and yet complicated in the same time. Using this option when not needed, which is probably the most common mistake when it comes to splitting in blackjack, can cost you a lot of money. The good news is that the splitting strategy is rather straight forward and easy to remember, especially if you have a favourite blackjack game which you come back to. Otherwise, it varies according to the specific splitting rules which we will review below.
Last thing before we continue, many new players not sure or shy to request to split, double and so forth. Don’t be. You don’t need to know any secret signs or terminology. Just tell the dealer that you wish to split and place additional bet. That’s it. Of course if you play blackjack online things are much easier and all you have to do is press the split button.
Common Blackjack Split Rules
- Allowed to split twice (up to three hands).
- You can split non identical 10 value cards.
- Splits Aces cannot be re-split.
- Split Aces receive only one card.
- You can hit and double down split hands.
Let’s take basic Vegas Strip hole card blackjack rules and see how different splitting rules influence the house edge. So additional rules we use: 8 decks, dealer checks for blackjack and stands on soft 17; double down on any 2 cards; blackjack pays 3:2. Under the splitting rules we used above the expected payout is 99.56% (or house edge of 0.44%).
Below you can see how each change influence the odds (+ means increases players’ odds, minus – lowers players’ odds):
- Only 1 split allowed: -0.045%
- Allowed to split to 4 hands: 0.01%
- No double after split: -0.14%
- Player can re-split Aces: 0.06%
- You can hit split Aces: 0.19%
When to Split in Blackjack – Basic Strategy
We will try to make it simple to remember. Here we won’t explain the mathematics behind each decision, but you can find it in additional articles.
Most crucial ones:
- Never Split 5s and 10 value cards. (Double on 5s as you would on any hard 10).
- Always split Aces and 8s.
The easy ones to remember:
- 2s, 3s, 7s – split when dealer shows 2-7
- 6s – split on dealer’s 2-6.
And the unique ones:
- 4s – are not a perfect hand for splitting, so you should split them only when the dealer shows 5 or 6 and only when you can double after split. If the casino doesn’t allow to double on split hands – never split 4s.
- 9s – split on dealer’s 2-6 and 8,9.