Whether you play online blackjack, in a traditional casino or even just with friends, knowing what call to make in any given situation automatically improves your odds of winning in the long term. Playing online blackjack should be fun but as with most gambling activities, much of the fun comes from winning, so you may as well give yourself the very best chance possible to do just that.
In order to reduce the house edge at real money blackjack to its theoretical minimum you should use basic strategy and one key element of that is knowing when to split and when not to split.
What is splitting?
Let’s start at the very beginning by explaining what we mean by splitting. Splitting is an option a player has when their first two cards are a pair, with anything from 2s to aces being “splittable”. When the player splits a pair they get a new card with each original card to create two new hands and they must bet the same stake on the second hand as they did originally, effectively doubling the overall bet.
When should I split?
The easiest thing to remember is to always split aces and eights no matter what. This is because splitting eights turns the worst hand, a 16, into two decent first cards, whilst splitting aces turns one average to poor hand into the best two cards possible, giving you a great chance of a big double stakes win.
There are lots of other times you should split too, with sevens a good example unless the dealer has an eight or above, whilst nines should be split unless the dealer has a seven, 10 or ace, in which case the player should stand. For full and thorough information you should consult a basic strategy chart that is applicable to the exact rules you are playing.
When shouldn’t I split?
In general you shouldn’t split when the dealer has a high card. If the dealer is showing an eight or higher the only cards you would split would be eights, nines and aces, subject to the exceptions listed above on nines.
However, the simplest rule regarding what not to hit is that you should NEVER split a pair of fives or a pair of 10s (or face cards). As before, for the fullest information on all possible splits, including re-splits, always consult a full and proper basic strategy chart based on the rules and number of decks relevant to the blackjack you’re playing.