Blackjack Strategy: Splitting Tens

At long last, we are now at the end of my series on blackjack basic strategy for splitting pairs. I hope you’re as excited to reach the finale as I. In this series, we have dealt with some pairs that you should always split, some that you only split if the dealer is showing certain cards, and a pair that you never split. Today we are discussing a pair of tens, which is another pair that you should never split.

First of all, when I say a pair of tens, I’m referring to any card with a value of 10, which can be a 10, Jack, Queen or King. If you have a pair of any of those cards, you should never split the pair, no matter what the dealer shows. Instead, you should stand on this hand.

Why should you never split a pair of tens? Well, first of all, do the math. 10 + 10 = 20. If you have a pair of tens, you have a hard 20. The only thing that can beat a 20 is a hand of 21, so your chances of winning with that hand are very good. If you split that pair then you are both reducing your chance of winning and doubling your bet, which is not wise strategy.

Some people think that splitting tens is a good idea because it gives you a chance of getting two hands of 20, and after all, two are better than one, right? This is a flawed philosophy, though. Yes, it’s true that since there are more 10-value cards in the deck than any other value, you have a better chance of drawing a ten than anything else. Basic strategy takes into account the probability of drawing a ten. However, splitting a pair of tens is not playing the odds and here is why.

If you split the pair and start out each hand with a ten, there are four cards (10, J, Q, K) that can bring you back to a total of 20 (where you started) and only one card (ace) that will improve your hand. Therefore, 5/13 cards will help you when you split a pair of tens and 8/13 cards will hurt you. Any decision that results in a 62% chance that your hand will get worse is not a good decision. For that reason, the odds say to stand when you have a pair of tens and hope the dealer doesn’t have a 21.

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