Blackjack Strategy: Splitting Sixes

The strategy for splitting pairs in blackjack is often misunderstood. It’s not always about giving yourself the best hand. At times, it’s about taking advantage of the likelihood of the dealer having a bad hand. If the dealer is likely to bust, you may want to double your bet so that if he does, you win more money. One such case comes into play when you have a pair of sixes.

According to blackjack basic strategy, when you have a pair of sixes, whether or not you split the pair depends on the dealer’s cards. If the dealer shows a two through a six, then you should split. If the dealer shows anything else, you take a hit.

Basic strategy takes into account the fact that you are statistically more likely to draw a card with a value of 10 than a card of any other value, since 4/13 of the cards have a value of 10. For that reason, basic strategy considers that the dealer is likely to have a ten in the hole. Taking that into account, if the dealer has a two through a six as an up card, he is likely to have a hand of 12 through 16, which is a stiff hand.

Stiff hands are bad for both the player and the dealer, because it is a hand that isn’t very high but is high enough to bust. With a dealer, though, there is no option of standing on a stiff hand. They have to draw. When they do, they are likely to go over the limit of 21, in which case you would win. For that reason, it is a good idea to split your pair of sixes, because that doubles the amount of money you have riding on the bet. After all, if you are likely to win, why wouldn’t you want to double the bet?

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