Blackjack Splitting Rules – When Do You Split in Blackjack?

12 minutes

Last Updated: December 7, 2023

blackjack splitting

Blackjack has remained one of the most popular card games played in casinos since the days it was invented, and a lot of it has to do with the fact it’s a game that requires skill along with luck.

While no amount of skill will make you a favorite to win in Blackjack, playing the game right makes you less likely to lose and reduces the house edge to below 1%.

A big part of playing Blackjack right comes down to understanding the Blackjack splitting rules, and when to apply this play in-game.

Blackjack split becomes available anytime you are dealt a pair of cards of the same rank in most Blackjack variants, but it is not always the right play to make.

In this guide to Blackjack splitting, I am going to teach you when you can split your hand in Blackjack, and when you should actually do it, as well as what makes one situation better to split than another.

So when do you split in Blackjack? Keep reading and find out!

Blackjack Splitting Rules in a Nutshell:

  • Always split Aces & Eights
  • Never split Tens, Fives, and Fours
  • Split Nines on dealer’s Nine, Eight, Six, or lower
  • Split Sevens on dealer’s Seven or lower
  • Split Sixes on dealer’s Six or Lower
  • Split Threes on dealer’s Four – Seven
  • Split Twos on dealer’s Three – Seven

What Does Splitting Means in Blackjack?

splitting in blackjack

Just like every other Blackjack rule, the Blackjack split rule plays a big part of the game. If applied right, splitting can greatly reduce the house edge, but if done at the wrong time, it can hurt the player’s chances.

Blackjack rules for splitting apply in nearly every Blackjack variant, and they allow you to split your cards anytime you are dealt a pair of cards of the same rank.

For example, if you are dealt two Eights on the initial deal, you will be able to apply the Blackjack split, in which case the dealer will split your hand into two, and deal an additional card on top of each of your Eights.

However, in order to split your hand, you will need to match your original bet, effectively doubling your initial stake. Once you have placed the extra chips, the dealer will deal an additional card to each of your new hands. 

Once you have split your hand into two, both your hands will be playing against the dealer’s, and you will have a chance to win with both, lose with both, or win with one hand to get your money back.

Once you have applied the Blackjack split rule, you will be playing with two hands. Each hand will receive one extra card initially, and you will have further options.

Playing After the Split

You will play the hand on the right side of the table first. Just like you could with your initial hand, you will have an option to hit and receive further cards, or stand and move on to your next hand.

Once you have had enough cards, you will stand on both your hands, and the action will move on. If your total score on either hand goes above 21, that hand will automatically lose.

The only exception to this Blackjack split rule comes when you split Aces. In this case, you will only receive one extra card for each hand, without further hitting options.

If the card you get on top of your Ace is valued Ten, your total will be 21. However, don’t expect to get paid 3:2, as you can only make Blackjack with your original two cards. Instead, making 21 this way will only pay you even money.

The exact time to make use of the Blackjack split rule depends on quite a few factors, most important of which is the dealer’s up card.

In further text, I am going to explain the right times to split your Blackjack hands whether you play live or at one of our top online casinos, as well as the times you want to play without splitting, especially with certain pairs.

It is important to note that you can win with both your hands if the dealer busts his hand, just the same as you would if you make two strong hands yourself, which makes looking out for the dealer’s up card an essential part of the strategy.

When Do You Split in Blackjack?

blackjack splitting rules

Blackjack splitting rules differ quite a bit from one casino to another, whether you are playing the game online or in a live setting.

Each Blackjack variation comes with a different set of rules related to splitting. These rules determine whether you can hit after splitting, as well as whether re-splitting is an option or not.

In most Blackjack variations, you will not be able to hit after splitting Aces, while hitting after splitting other pairs may be possible, depending on the game you are playing.

But when do you split in Blackjack and what situations are most favorable to use this play in? I am going to examine that next and show you a few examples of a good time to split your hand.

While following my Blackjack split guidelines won’t guarantee you any wins, it will increase your odds in the long run and make you a more competitive Blackjack player.

Always Split Aces and Eights

While most Blackjack players try to create a strategy of their own, there are some things that are set in stone and that you should not deviate from.

One such rule is that you should always split Aces and Eights. These are the two pairs that are always worth splitting, regardless of the situation.

Looking at a pair of aces, it is not hard to recognize the advantages. Hitting a single card valued Ten will get you to a total of 21, and you will have two chances to do so when you split Aces.

On the other hand, simply hitting when you have AA means you would need to hit a perfect Nine to get to 21, while all many other cards will put you in unfavorable positions.

Splitting Aces is probably one of the first things any Blackjack pro will teach you, and believe me when I tell you that you can’t go wrong with this play.

Of course, there will be situations where you split aces and get dealt two bad cards, losing both bets to the dealer, but these situations will not happen often.

The second Blackjack split rule that you should always follow is to split a pair of Eights. There are good reasons to split Eights, regardless of the up card the dealer is holding.

When you have two Eights in your hand, your hand is worth 16, which makes it a very tricky spot. Hitting on 16 is incredibly dangerous, while standing on 16 does not seem much more appealing either.

However, if you split your Eights, on the other hand, you are likely to improve to at least one 18 or 19, both of which are a lot more respectable scores than 16.

When you split your Eights, there is no chance of losing immediately with the first card you receive in both hands. If further hitting is possible, you will have a chance to re-assess the situation and make the best play with both hands.

Re-splitting After First Split

In some variations of Blackjack, a further Blackjack split rule may allow you to re-split your hands after splitting them for the first time.

What this means is that you will have a chance to split again if one of your hands become a pair. For instance, if you split Eights, and end up receiving another Eight, you may split this hand again.

Once again, you will want to split your Aces and Eights in all cases, as these pairs simply benefit so much from splitting.

Some forms of Blackjack allow players to re-split up to four times, and there may be specific rules to re-splitting certain hands multiple times, depending on the Blackjack version you are playing.

Avoid Splitting Fives, Fours, & Tens

when to split in blackjack

When playing the game of Blackjack, there are also certain hands you do not want to split. While it is recommended to split Aces and Eights in all circumstances, splitting Tens, Fives, and Fours usually does not make sense and is generally not the right blackjack strategy.

If you are dealt two Tens, splitting does not make sense since this is already a very strong hand and splitting does not do anything to boost your winning odds. However, many rookies tend to make this common beginner’s mistake and end up drawing or even losing hands they could have won.

When you are dealt two Tens, you have a card value of 20 and this is a very favorable hand you do not want to sacrifice for the sake of splitting.

On the other hand, if you split a pair of Tens, only getting an Ace improves your hand, while getting any other card gives you two hands lower-valued than the initial hand.

At the same time, some Blackjack experts who rely on card counting techniques recommend splitting Tens in certain cases, such as when you know that many Tens are left in the deck/decks.

When the dealer has a poor hand with a Five or Six, according to some experts, splitting Tens makes sense, if you know the deck is stacked in your favor.

However, these are relatively unique circumstances that do not occur very often. Splitting Tens should generally be avoided in real game scenarios.

Why You Shouldn’t Split Fives and Fours

When it comes to splitting Fives, you need to consider the fact that two Fives give you a starting hand worth 10, a very favorable starting position. In some cases, doubling down on your Fives makes sense, but splitting is not recommended.

While starting with 10 makes for a good starting hand, splitting into two hands worth 5 each makes it nearly impossible to get a better outcome. Drawing on top of a Five will often put you in situations where you have 12, 13, 14, or 15 points, all of which are fairly unfavorable.

When dealt a pair of Fives in Blackjack, play the hand as if it was not a pair, and don’t consider the split option, regardless of the dealers up card.

Finally, Fours are another pair that you should not consider splitting, for similar reasons that you don’t want to split your Fives.

Drawing on 8 will often give you 18 or 19 in total, which makes for a reasonable hand to go up against the dealer and hope for the best.

On the other hand, similar as Fives, splitting Fours will often produce two very mediocre hands, and you will be forced to make tough decisions that can hardly go in your favor.

The next time you play Blackjack and you are dealt a pair of Fours, forget about the split option, draw a card, and apply other rules of the Blackjack basic strategy moving forward.

Blackjack Split Rules Based on the Dealer’s Up Card

blackjack split rules

We have talked about pairs of Aces, Eights, Tens, Fives, and Fours so far, but what about all the other pairs you can get dealt in Blackjack?

Blackjack splitting rules for these hands depend on the dealer’s up card, and there is no single answer to whether you should or should not split these hands.

If you are dealt a small pair, such as Twos or Threes, most experts agree that you should only ever split if the dealer’s up card is an Eight.

However, some experts recommend splitting these pairs anytime the dealer has a card between Two and Seven, which is the same rule that applies for a pair of Sevens.

With a pair of Sixes, it is recommended to split whenever the dealer is showing a card between a Two and a Six as well. On the other hand, you should hit if the dealer is showing a Seven or above.

If you are dealt a pair of Nines, splitting the pair is recommended if the dealer has a card that’s Nine or lower, except a Seven. If the dealer is showing a Seven, Ten, or Ace, you should stand and hope that your 18 holds up.

Standing instead of hitting with Nines is the obvious play, as hitting only improves your hand if you score an Ace or a Two, which is highly unlikely.

If you don’t want to read through all those instructions, here are some quick rules on when to split your other pairs in Blackjack:

  • Pair of Nines when the dealer has Nine, Eight, Six, or less
  • Pair of Sevens when the dealer has a Seven or less
  • Pair of Sixes when the dealer has a Six or less
  • Pair of Threes when the dealer has a Four to Seven
  • Pair of Twos when the dealer has a Three to Seven

Blackjack Split Rules Conclusion

Splitting is one of the advanced Blackjack rules that many recreational players and gamblers don’t fully understand.

In most cases, you will see players splitting way too much, or not splitting often enough, and usually not for the right reasons.

Before you start playing Blackjack for real money, you should learn all the Blackjack splitting rules, and make sure that you always split at the right time.

Doing a Blackjack split at the right time will absolutely improve your winning chances, while splitting for no good reasons will hurt your long term winnings, and increase the house edge.

Of course, you should also keep in mind that even if you apply the Blackjack split rule to perfection, there will be times when you get unlucky and the dealer scoops your money.

Don’t fret, keep playing for stakes you can afford, and you will eventually come out getting the best possible results from your Blackjack sessions.

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