Play Blackjack

Understanding Online Blackjack Pair Splitting

Just like with poker, one of the best hands you can be dealt in Online Blackjack is a pair of Aces. Regardless of what the Dealer’s upcard is, landing rockets right off the hop will net you a theoretical positive expected return in the long run. But in order to capitalize on that, you have to play your cards right. So what is the right move when you’re dealt a pair of Aces in Blackjack?

Splitting those Aces into two individual hands is the answer every time. This move turns a soft score of 12 into something juicy. Just over one-third of the time you play, your Aces will be boosted with 10-value cards, giving you the perfect score of 21. The odds are so great that additional Blackjack rules surrounding split Aces are implemented to level the playing field.

Some hands, such as Aces, should always be split, but that’s not the case with all pairs. Knowing how to differentiate between the pairs that should be split and the pairs that should stay intact will set you apart from most recreational Blackjack players. By reading this Online Blackjack Guide, you’ll learn the theory behind splitting pairs in Blackjack to help you determine when you should use pair splitting.

How Pair Splitting is Used

To understand how pair splitting is used when you play, you need to think about it on a theoretical level; splitting turns a weak score into something stronger by dividing the cards into two individual hands. Most of the time, the Dealer’s upcard will factor into the decision to split your hand. In our previous example using Aces, they combine for a score of 12, which is one of the worst scores you can have. Hitting can result in a bust, and standing is not ideal. Split those Aces into two separate hands, and you have one-third of a chance of landing two hands with a score of 21. It’ll cost another wager that’s equal to your original one, but it’s well worth the upgrade from a 12.

One thing to keep in mind when splitting Aces, is they don’t technically count as “Blackjack” if you do receive that 10-value card. Most games give a payout of 1:1 instead of 3:2 for winning with a score of 21 after splitting Aces, and most games also don’t let you re-split Aces. That includes all nine versions of Online Blackjack available at Bodog Casino.

When You Should Use Pair Splitting

No need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to figuring out the optimal time to split pairs when playing Blackjack. Experts have already crunched the numbers and shared their findings through the creation of Blackjack strategy charts. Every Blackjack strategy chart consists of three parts: one for hard hands, which are hands that don’t contain an 11-point Ace, one for soft hands, which are hands that do contain an 11-point Ace, and one for Blackjack pair splitting. The splitting chart for six-deck Blackjack, where the Dealer hits on soft 17, includes directions for the following pairs: Twos, Threes, Fours, Sixes, Sevens, Eights, Nines and Aces. Any other hand pair should not be split.

The reason Twos, Threes, Fours, Sixes, Sevens, Eights, Nines and Aces are good splitting candidates is because they combine for weak scores, and have a better win probability when combined with a fresh new card. Of these eight pairs, some are higher on the split hierarchy than others. We ranked them all from the most splittable pair (Aces) to the pair that should be split a quarter of the time, depending on the Dealer’s upcard (Fours).

1. Aces

2. Eights

3. Nines

4. Sevens

5. Sixes

6. Twos, Threes

7. Fours

If you don’t have a Blackjack chart on you, a good rule of thumb is to compare the score of the pair with the score of one card from the pair being combined with a 10-value card. For example, Aces go from 12 to 21. Eights go from 16 to 18. Nines go from 18 to 19, and so on and so forth. It gets a bit trickier with the lower pair hands, which are usually split when the Dealer has a high bust probability (upcard of Seven or Six and below). For example, Fours should be split only when the Dealer shows a Five or Six, you can then double after the split, which can be done when playing at Online Bodog.

The Math Behind Pair Splitting

All Blackjack strategy charts use math to determine the optimal move for every hand, splitting is no exception. If you want to go beyond the chart and look at the math behind pair splitting, you can look into the Return to Player for each hand using reputable websites. These numbers show you why a certain play is recommended over another. Let’s use splitting Nines vs. a Dealer Eight as an example. According to the math, the Return to Player for hitting a pair of Nines vs. a Dealer Eight is -0.591. Standing on a pair of Nines vs. a Dealer Eight is 0.105, whereas doubling on a pair of Nines is -1.182. The optimal move, which is splitting the Nines, has a theoretical Return to Player of 0.234—the highest return of all four actions.

In a game that pits you against the house, Blackjack gives you two moves that the Dealer doesn’t have access to doubling and splitting hands. Each option is an indispensable tool that needs to be used properly in order to ensure you’re whittling down the house edge as low as possible when you play Blackjack for real money. While a strategy chart will tell you what to do on a very basic level, understanding the theory behind splitting helps you evolve from a recreational player to a Blackjack master.

Play Virtual Blackjack for Real Money | Bodog