Blackjack Strategy for Pair of Nines

As was discussed yesterday, new blackjack players commonly make a mistake with a hand of 18. The most common mistake is to think that you have an awesome hand and should stand no matter what. However, with a soft 18, at times you will want to either hit or double down. Another mistake people make is not splitting a pair of nines.

If you have a pair of nines, a lot of new players will simply look at that as a hard 18. That is a very good hand with which you should always stand. However, a pair of nines isn’t an ordinary hard 18, because you can gain an advantage by splitting the pair. If you have a pair of nines, blackjack basic strategy says to split the pair if the dealer shows a face card that is a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 or 9. If the dealer shows a 7, 10 or ace, you should stand.

For that to make sense, you first have to keep in mind that there are more cards with a value of 10 than any other value. Four of every 13 cards has a value of 10. If the dealer shows a two through six, that means the dealer has a good chance of having a stiff hand (12-16). A stiff hand is the worst hand in blackjack and one that is very likely to bust. Against those odds, splitting is a good idea because it doubles your bet. If the dealer has an 8 or 9, he is likely to have an 18 or 19, which would either beat you or cause a push, where neither of you win. Facing those odds, it is best to split and start two hands with a 9, which give you a good chance of drawing hands of 19.

If the dealer shows a 7 as his up card, he has a good chance of possessing a hand of 17. If that’s the case, you have already beaten the hand with an 18. For that reason, you want to stand. If the dealer shows an ace or 10, those are the two best hands in blackjack. The dealer has a good chance of having a 20 or 21. Facing those hands, even your good hand of 18 is probably not good enough. You don’t want to hit, though, because you would have a good chance of busting. Therefore, you want to stand instead of splitting because you don’t want to double your bet if you are likely to lose.

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