Splitting Hands in Blackjack

Posted by Dave Consolazio . Last updated:

Splitting Your Way to Profit

When you receive a pair at the blackjack table you have the option to split them into two hands.

You simply separate the two cards, placing them side by side, and push forward another bet the same size as your first one.

Splitting pairs while playing blackjack is a way to use blackjack strategy to win more in profitable situations and lose less in unprofitable situations.

Rules and Variations

You won’t find many splitting rules variations that change how you play pairs. The most important one is if you’re allowed to double after splitting. See the specific hands listed in the next section.

Other split rules include the ability to re-split aces and the ability to split to up to four hands.

Specific Hands

Have you ever heard you should always split aces and 8’s?

As it turns out, it’s good advice.

You always want to split aces because if you land any of the 10’s or face cards on either (or both) of the aces you have a total of 21. The aces also turn into a good hand with any 6, 7, 8, or 9 and can safely take another card on any smaller card.

16 is the worst staring hand total in blackjack, so splitting 8’s is a great way to turn a terrible hand into a possible win. After the split, any 10 or face card creates a solid 18 total, an ace makes a 19, and a 9 creates a 17. Also, a 3 makes 11 and a 2 makes 10, both good totals to play out. Eight positive cards (aces, kings, queens, jacks, tens, nines, threes, and twos) create a good hand and only five cards are less than favorable.

The only other absolute rule about splitting is never split a pair of 5’s. A total of 10 is too strong to split, and should actually be doubled down on except against a dealer ace or 10.

Here’s a list of other hands followed by when to split.

Pair of 2’s: Split against a dealer 4 through 7. Also split 2’s if you can double after split.

Pair of 3’s: Split against a dealer 4 through 7. Also split 3’s if you can double after split.

Pair of 4’s: Only split if you can double after split. If so, split against dealer 5 and 6.

Pair of 6’s: Split against a dealer 3 through 7. Also split 2’s if you can double after split.

Pair of 7’s: Split against a dealer 2 through 7.

Pair of 9’s: Split against a dealer 2 through 6 and 8 and 9.

Memorizing when to split can be challenging, but here are a few tips to help you.

Start with a few easy to remember rules and add a new one as soon as you have the others down pat. Everyone can start with 8’s, aces, and 5’s. The next rule to add is 4’s, because unless you can double after split they don’t get split.

2’s and 3’s are the same so add them next. 6’s, 7’s, and 9’s are all that’s left at this point.

Add 9’s last, because if you make a mistake with 9’s, lean towards not splitting them because a hard 18 is strong and will be profitable in the long run.

If you’re asking why you’d split a profitable hand like 9’s the answer forms the basis of basic strategy. Basic strategy is based on the play that either makes the most money in the long run or loses the least amount of money in the long run. The fact is splitting the 9’s is more profitable in the long run than standing with 18 except against a dealer 7, 10, or ace.

Another option is recording the correct plays and listening to them as you do other things. Your subconscious mind can absorb a great deal of information so why not let it help you learn all the correct split plays?

One key to learning and retaining basic strategy is constantly practicing. Every time you go to the casino try to get every split decision right. When you can’t get to the casino you can play at an online casino. Many players learn all of the basic strategy decisions playing online.

Playing on the Internet is a safe and easy way to learn. You don’t have to be in a hurry or worry about other players. You can play for free or real money from the comfort of your home. You can even play on your tablet and on most phones while you’re on the go.

Splitting for Counters

Everything I’ve discussed so far has been concerning basic strategy. If you count cards, the index tables for your count may change the rules for splitting depending on the count.

Every count uses different indexes and they’re all based on basic strategy and how you change from the normal strategy. This means that unless you’re already a counter, you need to learn to play the basic strategy splitting rules perfectly before moving up to card counting.


Don’t miss out on the profitable split situations at the blackjack table. A great deal of the house edge can be eliminated by using proper strategy. Splitting hands in profitable situations doubles your starting wager when you have the best chance of winning.

Dave Consolazio

Dave Consolazio has been passionate about writing and sports journalism since his high school years. He has a degree in Broadcast Journalism from USC where he worked with the school's radio and television stations. His work has been featured in SportsbookReview, Sports Illustrated and SB Nation. Dave's experience ranges across multiple fields in the gambling industry. You can find his sports, casino, and poker articles in GambleOnline.co.

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