Splitting can be a very useful way to beat the dealer and boost winnings, but like everything else in blackjack it is subject to certain rules and even when used optimally does not guarantee success.
It may seem like the obvious thing to do whenever the chance arises, but actually it can be detrimental if used on the wrong hand, so learning which hands are a good opportunity and which are not is paramount to making the most of splitting.
It’s not free either, it will cost you another stake equal to your first, but if used properly it should see you better off over the long term.
How to Split in Blackjack
Whenever you are dealt two cards with the same face value at the start of a game of blackjack you will have the option to split your hand.
This means your initial two cards will be parted and become two separate hands, both of which will then receive a second card to create two new complete hands. However, you will need to place a second stake too, so there is more risk involved.
If you wanted to take the opportunity to split your hand in a real life casino, you would place your second stake outside the betting box and signal to the dealer that you want to split using two fingers in a V shape.
However, when playing online it’s a simple case of clicking a button. The split button won’t be available until it is needed, so it will be obvious when you have the chance to split and when you do not.
The Best Time to Split in Blackjack
As we mentioned, splitting isn’t a foregone conclusion; there are times when it is better to take this option and times when it is better to leave your hand as it is and simply hit.
Although the following rules do not guarantee success on every single hand, over the long term you will statistically be better off if you abide by them.
This is considered the optimal strategy:
- Always split Aces – With so many 10 value cards in the shoe this is just common sense.
- Always split 8s – It’s a poor hand anyway, so splitting at least gives you the chance to improve.
There is a handy guide below which you can use as you play. It tells you exactly what to do in any given scenario
The Worst Time to Split in Blackjack
Notwithstanding the fact that we have given you guide above, it is worth reiterating that there are certain times when splitting is just plainly and simply a bad idea.
The following hands are best left alone:
- Never split 10s – You already have 20, you have more chance of creating two lower hands by splitting. (Ignore our example image at the top of this page!)
- Never split 4s – Once split, only 3 cards can improve each hand, whereas hitting on 8 is 100% safe. Better just to hit and hope.
- Never split 5s – This gives you 10 which is a great hand to hit on. Splitting is likely to leave you in an awkward position where you either stick with a mediocre hand or risk busting. No thanks.
Of course, nothing is guaranteed so you could make a bad call and the dealer could bust, for example, but it would be dumb luck rather than solid strategy that saves the day.
Other Splitting Rules
With so many variations of blackjack out there these days offering extra features, splitting rules have been adapted in various ways in order to balance the game.
It is for this reason that you may find slightly different rules at different tables, so make sure you check them before you start playing. Other questions that often comes up are listed below.
Can You Split More than Once in Blackjack?
Imagine you split your hand and end up with another hand showing two cards if the same value. Can you split again to create a third hand? This is allowed at some games and not at others.
Of course it would mean a third stake would be needed, and the rules above should be followed just the same.
Can You Double Down After Splitting?
This is yet another instance where the rules might be different from one game to another, so just check before you begin. If doubling after splitting is allowed then make sure you follow our advice on doubling rather than approaching it randomly, as the stakes can really start to add up in this situation.
Can You Hit After Splitting?
In general the answer to this is yes, each hand is simply treated as a normal hand would be. However, in some games splitting Aces results in only a single further card being dealt before the player is forced to stand.
You should still split Aces though, as even with only a single extra card your chances of a strong hand are high.