Once new players grasp the basic strategy of blackjack – the hand value, and counting – many find the game of blackjack so exciting that it’s easy to get confused. Splitting the cards is one of the most ferociously exciting yet subtle opportunities you can use in the game of blackjack, and confusion equals opportunity.
Statistics show that 80% of all blackjack players make the same basic mistake of splitting when they’re holding two cards of the same value. Although basic strategy tells you to always split aces and eights, too many players continue to split cards at the worst times, and that means they can be lost altogether.
Here is a fundamental mistake that beginning players can make, especially if they have yet to receive a pair of tens:
Beginners, keep in mind that if you split two tens, you have excellent odds of winning the hand. That doubling bet you make takes the worst possible scenario out of the equation and converts your slightly weaker hand into a very strong one.
Here are some guidelines based upon the odds, or payoff if you’re playing blackjack for the lowest players, on what happens if you split a pair of tens:
Almost always the dealer will need a ten or a lower card to qualify.
The most common (and worst) split that you can make is a pair of aces, but you can also split 4,5,6,7 and even 8s. All of these except 4,5 and 6 are beneficial to the dealer.
The worst split you can make is 2 and 2, although 3 and 3 is also beneficial as discussed earlier.
So you can see the problem with splitting cards is losing more than doubling your bet. Although a win is better than a loss, you’re expectations will be lower.
The best way to play blackjack is to learn when to split and when not to. However, this also takes some time, as you’ll need to remember this basic strategy in order to make it work in the long term.
Straight Slice vs. Split
Because cards numbered 2, 3 and 4 have a statistical advantage over the dealers card, the optimal strategy is to always split cards in two.
Most players will split 4s and tens. Some players split 8s because they have a spade flush, otherwise they are hoping the dealer will have a card lower than a ten. The lower the card number, the better chance you have of winning the hand.
10s should be split facing down, if the dealer has an ace or a 10.
Most players with at least some experience should realize that blackjack is a game of high cards – high cards are better than low cards. Therefore, if the deck has a lot of 10s, then you should expect to get paid off more often.
When the deck has a lot of lower card numbers, you may prefer to stay out of the hand, unless the dealer has an ace or a 10.
Blackjack payout is normally 1.5 to 1. However, if the dealer has an ace, a ten valued card or a face card, the blackjack payout is not 1 to 1 but 13 to 1. This means you lose less money by not splitting your cards.