Splitting your hand may offer double rewards; do it on the wrong cards though, and you risk losing more. Learn basic strategy on when to split with Mr Blackjack.
Splitting is one of the most exciting moves in blackjack because it allows you to double your wager and play two hands at once.
In blackjack, you are allowed to split any two cards with the same value: two 5s, two 9s, and even two 10s or a Jack and Queen.
Casinos only allow you to split cards of the same value. It’s not always advantageous to do so, but you are allowed. When to split falls to basic strategy and math.
First off you never, ever split 5s and you should also never split 10s. The former is because two 5s give you 10, and the math says that you will always make a better hand when you start with a 10 than when you start with a five.
You never split 10s because you have 20, and 20 is considered a very good hand that wins most of the time. You don’t want to split up a hand like that, only to hope to catch a hand with a value of 20. It's better to stay on the 20 and take your winnings.
There are also circumstances when the decision to split your hand depends on the dealer's up-card. If the dealer is showing a 2-6, that is considered a bust card; you should split any pair except for the ones we just discussed in order to double your bet. Try to get two hands that will potentially beat the dealer because he is showing a bust card.
So, to recap. You should never split:
And you should split:
And depending on the dealer's up-card, you should split when:
- Dealer up-card 2-7 vs player pairs of 2s, 3s, or 7s
- Dealer up-card 2-6 or 8-9 vs player pair of 9s
Now that you know the essentials to splitting, it's time to look at surrender, one of the most misunderstood moves in blackjack.
What this lesson covers
- The best hands to split
- The worst hands to split
- - Tricky hands basic strategy says you should split
- How to apply basic strategy to splitting in blackjack
Meet Mr Blackjack
With a career spanning two decades, Mathieu Blake knows his way around a blackjack table. He's taught and entertained over 100,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel NeverSplit10's . In this series he'll take you through basic strategy, card counting, and bankroll management. Take a seat with Mr Blackjack and become a winning player.
- What hands should I split in blackjack?
You should always split pairs of Aces and 8s in blackjack. Basic strategy shows you have a higher chance of making two good hands when those cards are separated.
- Can you split two different face cards in blackjack?
Yes; in blackjack, you can split a hand that has two cards of the same value.
- What if the blackjack game I’m playing doesn’t let me split hands, or limits the number of times I can split my hand?
As season one of Blackjack Academy discusses, casinos apply strict table rules like limits on splitting to keep their advantage. When this happens, players should follow the secondary advice basic strategy offers on strategy charts, or find blackjack games with more lenient rules for players.
- Why shouldn’t I split 10s in blackjack?
Basic strategy shows you statistically have a better chance of winning with one strong hand compared to two weaker hands.
- How many times can I split in blackjack?
Many casinos will restrict the number of times you can split your hand in blackjack. The most popular limit is three times, giving you four hands. Look for blackjack games with unlimited splits for players. This gives you better blackjack odds of winning more payouts.
- Why does basic strategy say you should split Aces? They’re strong cards!
A pair of Aces either gives you a low hand (2) or a bust hand (22). By splitting your Aces, it’s more likely you’ll create stronger hands that give you a better chance of winning at blackjack.
- How can the casino still have the edge in blackjack if the dealer can’t split, surrender, or double down?
While players have more moves in blackjack, casinos choose the table rules. The number of decks in play, standing/hitting on soft 17, restrictions on splitting, and more can collectively give the casino a considerable advantage in blackjack.