CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Best of Alan Krigman

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

In Blackjack, Splitting Is Good and Resplitting Is Better

7 January 1997

Splitting pairs is among the most powerful tools available to blackjack buffs. This option applies when the initial two cards are a pair. A player can place a second bet - equal to the first - then work each of the cards as the start of a separate hand.

Multiple spots formed by splitting are subject to some restrictions. 1) Surrender, if offered in a game, is prohibited on the newly-created hands. 2) When aces are split, only one card can be drawn to each. 3) An ace-10 combination on a split hand scores as 21 but not as blackjack. 4) In some games, typically but not always those dealt from single decks, doubling down may not be permitted on hands formed by splitting. 5) If additional pairs are formed on the newly-created hands, resplitting to three or more spots may not be allowed.

The accompanying table shows which pairs should be split in multi-deck games when players can double on newly-formed positions. The indicated strategy offers three types of benefits.

Splitting enhances certain strong starts. An example would be a pair of nines versus a dealer's five-up. The initial situation is strong; 18 versus five-up gives players an expected win of $0.20 per dollar bet. However, splitting the pair gives players two wagers, each starting with nine versus the five-up and each offering an expected win over $0.24 per dollar bet.

Splitting lessens the impact of certain weak starts. One case would be a pair of nines facing a dealer's nine-up. With an 18 facing a nine-up, players can expect to lose $0.18 per dollar bet. After a split, each of the player nines has an expected loss of only $0.05 per dollar bet against the dealer's nine-up.

Splitting converts certain weak to strong starts. An illustration would be a pair of eights against a dealer's six-up. The initial hand is an underdog; 16 versus six-up presents players with an anticipated loss of more than $0.15 per dollar bet. When the pair is split, each of the eights against the six offers a projected win over $0.11 per dollar bet.

Most casinos let their patrons split pairs to only one level. For instance, say a dealt three-three is split. If another three falls on either of the consequent hands, the new pair cannot be re-split but must be played as a six.

Assume single-level splits with double-down allowed on the newly-formed spots. Players following basic strategy can expect to split 2.55 percent of all dealt hands. Statistically, the splits should yield a net profit over $0.03 per dollar at risk on the total number of spots formed. With six- or eight-deck shoes this trims the house advantage on the game by roughly 0.4 percent relative to playing totals representing pairs as-dealt.

Gains are greater with resplitting as well as doubling on newly-formed spots. Solid citizens can still expect favorable splitting opportunities on 2.55 percent of all dealt hands. If up to four spots can be formed from any pairs including aces, the number of hands in action will increase by another 0.5 percent. The win expected from the multi-stage splitting will be nearly $0.05 for each dollar at risk on the total number of spots formed. With six- or eight-deck shoes, this trims the house advantage on the game by about 0.5 percent relative to playing totals representing pairs as-dealt.

Occasionally, players will resplit pairs into four hands, then double down on each spot. That initial $10 or $25 is suddenly catapulted to $80 or $200. Sure, it gives grown men the collywobbles. But, the extra money is all wagered under conditions favorable to the bettor. And, while there's always the chance of bashing a bankroll badly with the ballooned bet, many a blackjack maven can trace entire session profits to just such hands. As Sumner A Ingmark, the players' poet, fittingly fantasized:

Blackjack profit's made by splitting hairs,
That's why experts dream of splitting pairs.

TABLE: Pairs to split in multi-deck shoes
when doubling is allowed on newly-formed hands

dealer

pair

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
A
2-2
S
S
S
S
S
S
 
 
 
 
3-3
S
S
S
S
S
S
 
 
 
 
4-4
 
 
 
S
S
 
 
 
 
 
6-6
S
S
S
S
S
 
 
 
 
 
7-7
S
S
S
S
S
S
 
 
 
 
8-8
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
9-9
S
S
S
S
S
 
S
S
 
 
A-A
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S

 

Alan Krigman

Alan Krigman was a weekly syndicated newspaper gaming columnist and Editor & Publisher of Winning Ways, a monthly newsletter for casino aficionados. His columns focused on gambling probability and statistics. He passed away in October, 2013.
Alan Krigman
Alan Krigman was a weekly syndicated newspaper gaming columnist and Editor & Publisher of Winning Ways, a monthly newsletter for casino aficionados. His columns focused on gambling probability and statistics. He passed away in October, 2013.