When to Split in Blackjack: Complete Guide | LeoVegas NZ

When to Split in Blackjack: Complete Guide

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino and online casino games that you can play, with the aim of outwitting the dealer to build your stack of cash. Although there are a few variations of the game played in different countries around the world, by far the most popular version is that of 21, now commonly known simply as blackjack.

In this guide we will look at some of the tactics you can use to enhance your chances of winning bigger cash sums by beating the dealer, specifically using the blackjack split. This is a crucial tool in your battle with the dealer and one that when used correctly, can reward you generously.

When Should you Always Split in Blackjack?

In blackjack you will be dealt certain hands where the probability of winning will dictate whether it is the best move to split or not.

Although these instructions on when to always split increase your chances of beating the dealer, they do not mean that you will win every time you follow them. However, by sticking to them, you are more likely to win in the long term.


Because there are more cards in a deck with a value of ten (King, Queen, Jack, and 10) it makes sense to split a pair of aces as you have more chance of hitting a 10-valued card, on both newly formed hands, which will give you an unbeatable 21 (blackjack).

If you decide not to split your aces, one ace will be given a value of one (1) with the other valued at 11. This means that only a nine (9) can take you to 21 on your next card for a total value of 12. Whilst, if you were dealt a card with a value of 10 on your non-split aces, both aces would be counted as having a value of one (1), which means from a strong position, you would be back to a hand with a total of 12.


Being dealt two eights (8s) that have a combined value of 16 is a poor hand in blackjack. Playing them as one hand does not leave much room for manoeuvre, as anything above a five (5) will see you go bust.

This is where the split can come in handy and hopefully rescue the situation by giving you a competitive hand. By splitting your eights (8s), you are opening up your chances of hitting cards valued nine (9) or above that will improve your hands. Lower cards will still see you try to build a score better than 16.

When Should You Never Split in Blackjack?

As well as rules for when to always split in blackjack, there are hands that you should never split and some hands where the decision to split will be based on the value of the dealer's up-card.

Again, these instructions are advice only and do not guarantee you a win, but they will give you a better probability of not losing.


The advice is to not split 10s as you are already in a strong position with a value of 20. Splitting them could undo a very promising hand, as it is highly unlikely that you will be able to improve either of your split hands.


If you are dealt a pair of fours (4s) you have a score of eight (8), so whatever card value you are dealt next, you cannot go bust. You could hit a 10-valued card or an ace to put you in a strong position. If you split the fours (4s), it is only possible for three cards to improve your initial hand, a five (5), six (6) or seven (7).


On the outlook, you have a pair of fives (5s) that total 10, so you should be thinking about a double down unless the dealer is showing a nine, 10 or ace. By splitting fives (5s), you are likely to be left with either a lower-value hand that you initially had or you are simply increasing your chances of busting later in the hand as more cards hit.

Rules for Splitting in Blackjack

The split is offered when a player has an initial two card hand that includes two cards of the same value. If a hand is split, the cards are split into two separate hands, and an additional card from the dealer will be dealt to each of the newly formed hands.

You should always check the specific rules of the type of blackjack you are playing for any modifications of the game. Some rules or adaptations to look out for before playing include casinos that only allow the split option of two 10-valued cards if they are of the same rank. For example, splitting two 10’s or two Queens is fine, but splitting a Jack and King hand is not.

There might also be limits on the additional splitting of hands and/or doubling down of further hands after the first split. In some cases, you might be restricted to hitting just once if you have split aces.

Finally, some casinos might not recognise an ace and 10-card hand as blackjack, but it will still make 21. This is significant because payout for blackjack is generally at odds of 3:2, whereas an ace and 10 might only be paid out at even (1:1).

How to Signal A Split in Blackjack

To split in blackjack, an additional bet, equal to your original wager, is required for the newly created hand.

To signal you wish to split your hand to the dealer, simply point downwards on the betting table with two fingers forming a clear V shape. It will appear as if your index and middle finger are pointing at two hands versus one, as this is of course, is the idea of the split action.

Check the Dealer’s Cards before Splitting

As mentioned earlier in the guide, what the dealer's up-card is, will help determine whether you should split or not. Here are some scenarios to look out for.

If you have a pair of twos (2s), threes (3s) or sevens (7s), and the dealer’s up-card is between two to seven (2-7), you should split as the probability dictates that you are likely to improve your hand.

If you have a pair of nines (9s) and the dealer's up-card is between two and six (2-6) or eight (8) and nine (9), it is tempting to stand on a value of 18. However, it is a beatable total in a couple of hits, so splitting is a percentage call to try to improve your position with the extra cards in the deck that are valued 10 or higher (an ace).

Finally, if you have a pair of sixes (6s) and the dealer's up-card is between two and six (2-6), probability suggests that you are more likely to beat the dealer if you split your sixes (6s). You could be dealt a card with a value of 10 or more, putting you in a stronger position than the dealer who might be forced to keep hitting and go bust as a result.

How to Use Blackjack Basic Strategy for Splitting

Basic blackjack strategy for splitting hands is remarkably simple.

  • Always split aces or eights (8s).
  • Never split tens (10s), fours (4s), or fives (5s).

By following this basic blackjack strategy, you are increasing the probability that you will end up with a better hand than that of the dealer.

Blackjack Split FAQ

What is a split in blackjack?

This is when a player is dealt an initial hand of two cards that are the same value or number. The player has the option to split this hand to create two new hands to play with.

Do you ever split 10s in blackjack?

The recommendation is to never split tens (10s). You are already in a strong position with a total of 20, so stay in that strong position and hope the dealer does not hit 21.

Why do you split 6s in blackjack?

The advice is to only split sixes (6s) if the dealer has an up-card valued between two and six (2-6). Probability suggests you are more likely to beat the dealer if you split sixes as you could be dealt one of the many 10-valued cards, which will put you in a stronger position than the dealer.

Do you split 2s against a 7?

Only split twos (2) if the dealer has an up-card that is valued between two and seven (2-7).

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