Splitting pairs is an important part of blackjack basic strategy, but it’s one that not a lot of people know. Or even if they know what to do, they don’t necessarily know why. That is why I’m taking the time to go through the strategy pair by pair so you can be better prepared when you are dealt those cards. Earlier today I wrote about splitting aces. Here’s what to do with a pair of twos.
If you are dealt a pair of twos, what you do depends on what card the dealer is showing. Before making a decision, look at the dealer’s up card. If the dealer shows a two through a seven, you should split your pair of twos. If the dealer shows an 8 or better, you should hit.
The reason for this is that basic strategy takes into account the high likelihood of the dealer having a ten in the hole. Since there are more 10-value cards in the deck than any other value, assuming a 10 in the hole is playing the odds. Therefore, if the dealer shows a two through a seven, there is a high probability that he has a stiff hand (12-16). If the dealer has a stiff hand, he must take a hit and after doing so, he has a high probability of busting. Therefore, splitting your twos is good strategy because it gives you two hands (and therefore twice the wager) going against a dealer hand that is likely to lose.
If the dealer shows an eight or better, however, you might be in trouble. Again, keep in mind the likelihood of the dealer having a 10 in the hole. That means a dealer showing an eight or better has a good chance of having an 18 or better. Those hands are difficult to beat. For that reason, you don’t want to put extra money on the hand.
What it all comes down to is that twos aren’t great cards, so whether you split or not has little to do with whether you like your cards and a lot to do with whether or not you think the dealer has bad cards. If the dealer seems to have a stiff hand, you want to split so you can double the wager, thinking that he will bust. If he does, it doesn’t matter what your hand is. If the dealer seems to have good cards, you don’t want to double your bet, so you would avoid splitting the twos.