Posts Tagged ‘when to split pairs’

Blackjack Strategy: Never Split a Pair of Tens

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Blackjack basic strategy is important if you want to lower the house edge for the game to an acceptable level. If you’re reading this blackjack blog, you probably already know that. Sometimes people deviate from basic strategy, though. This is done because they forget the real strategy and because they use flawed logic to come up with what they think is the answer. On occasion, they also do so because they think that basic strategy is wrong.

One common mistake that makes me cringe is when people split a pair of tens. You should never split a pair of tens, but people do. When they do, it is based on what would otherwise be good strategy. Tens are good cards to start a hand with. In fact, next to an ace, it’s the best card to draw with your first card. The thinking then is if you have a pair of tens, you can split it and you will have two hands starting with a ten, which is twice as good.

People who succumb to that type of thinking forget to do one simple thing: add their cards. A pair of tens equals a hand of 20, which can only be beaten by a hand of 21. Needless to say, a hand of 20 is a great hand to have and you don’t want to give it up. But what are the odds if you do?

Starting a hand with a 10, you have a 1/13 chance of improving your hand, since only an ace would give you a 21. You have a 4/13 chance of ending up with another hand of 20 (by drawing a 10, J, Q or K), which is what you had before splitting the pair. That leaves a 9/13 chance that you will end up with a hand worse than 20.

That is for one hand. By splitting a pair of tens, you’re starting two hands with a ten, which means both hands have a 69% chance of ending up worse than where you started. With that in mind, it is clearly a better idea to stand, take your hand of 20 and hope to beat the dealer. After all, only a dealer 21 can beat you and a dealer 20 will only tie you. You win against any other dealer hand.

As always, basic blackjack strategy works in online casinos as well as the brick and mortar variety.

Splitting Pairs

Friday, January 8th, 2010

When you play blackjack, you will occasionally be dealt pairs. Sometimes you will want to split the pairs, while other times you will not. If you look at a blackjack basic strategy chart, it includes what you should do when you are dealt pairs. Generally speaking, you will always split aces and eights, regardless of the dealer’s upcard. You should never split fives or tens. Here is more detailed information on splitting pairs.

Aces are the most powerful card in blackjack, since you can decide to make them worth either eleven or one depending on which is more beneficial. Also, an ace gives you a shot at a natural blackjack. Basic strategy takes into account that you are more likely to be dealt a 10-value card than any other card, since there are 4 different cards with that value. By splitting aces, you take a mediocre hand of a soft 12 and give yourself the possibility of getting two blackjacks. For that reason, regardless of the dealer’s upcard, you should always split aces.

If you have a pair of twos, threes or sevens, you should split the pairs if the dealer shows a 2 through 7. If the dealer shows an 8 or better, you should hit. The reason for this is that basic strategy assumes a high likelihood of the dealer having a 10 in the hole.

If you have a pair of twos make a hand of 14 and the dealer has a total of 12 through 17, you have a good chance of the dealer busting on 12 through 16. You have a good chance of outdrawing the dealer on a 17. If the dealer has an eight or better, though, your chances of winning the hand are slim, so you don’t want to put more money on it.

If you have a pair of threes, being dealt a total of 16 is likely if you don’t split, and a hard 16 is one of the worst hands in blackjack, because if you hit you are likely to bust and if you stand you are likely to be outdrawn. Therefore, splitting the threes is wiser strategy. If the dealer has an 8 or better, though, once again your likelihood of losing is high, so you don’t want to bet more money.

If you have a pair of sevens, you have the dealer on the ropes. Assuming a 10 in the hole, if the dealer shows a 2 through 7, he has a high probability of busting on 12-16. If you split your sevens, you have a good chance of getting two hands of 17, which would beat everything but a dealer 17. If, however, the dealer has an 18 or better, chances are you’re going to lose, so you shouldn’t bet more money.

If you have a pair of fours, you should only split if the dealer’s upcard is a 5 or 6. Again, the strategy assumes you will receive a 10 card when you take a hit. A total of 18 is a pretty good hand. However, if the dealer shows a 5 or 6, he has a high probability of busting, so splitting your bet and hoping for a couple 14s along with the dealer busting is good strategy.

You should never split a pair of fives. A hand of 15 has a high probability of busting but is often too low to win, so you don’t want to give yourself the possibility of having two hands of 15. A hard 10 is a better hand than two 15s.

If you have a pair of sixes, you should split if the dealer shows a 2 through 6. The reason is that if the dealer has a 12 through 16, he has a high probability of busting. Splitting the sixes gives you a good chance of two hands of 16, which would win if the dealer busts.

Always split a pair of eights. A hand of 18 is very difficult for the dealer to beat, whereas a 16, as I mentioned earlier, is one of the worst hands in blackjack.

The strategy for a pair of nines is a little more complicated. You should split if the dealer’s upcard is 2 through 6 or 8 or 9. You should stand if the dealer’s upcard is an ace, 7 or 10. The reason for that is if the dealer shows a 2 through 6, he has a good chance of busting. Splitting the nine for a possibility of two hands of 19 gives you a good chance of two wins. If the dealer shows an 8 or 9, they have a good chance of having an 18 or 19. If you stand on your 18, you would push on the former and lose on the latter. By splitting, you have a chance of getting lucky and drawing a winning hand. If the dealer shows an ace or a 10, you’re probably going to lose, so you don’t want to bet more money on the hand. You would stand on a dealer 7, because you have a good chance of beating a dealer 17 with your 18.

You should never split a pair of tens. That’s because you have a hard total of 20, which can only be beaten by the dealer drawing a 21. Your 20 is a good hand that you want to stand on.