How to Know when to Split Pairs in Blackjack

Blackjack has always been one of my favorite games to play at casinos. We love the suspense and thrill of knowing whether or not we’re going to get blackjack or bust. What we’ve found though, is that often we’ll be sitting there thinking, ‘I should split these two pairs.’ Then something happens and we’ll look down and see that we had no idea what was going on. Even worse, sometimes we go through multiple hands without realizing that we’re holding a pair of tens.

Split Pairs in Blackjack
Split Pairs in Blackjack

Blackjack is a game where you try to beat your opponent’s hand by having higher cards (the dealer usually shows an ace). If you choose to hit after seeing your cards, then you’ll either draw another card or stay put. There’s also a strategy called splitting where you take 2 cards from each hand instead of hitting once.

Splitting is a great way to increase your chances of winning without risking too much. This post takes a detailed look at exactly when to split and why you should consider it.

What is Splitting Pairs in Blackjack?

The term “splitting” refers to taking 2 cards for every hand. When you do this, you’re essentially doubling your bet size. For example, if you have 10 chips in front of you, you can make a $20 bet with 5 chips or a $100 bet with 20 chips. You’d be doubling your bets when you use splitting.

This is great because even though your odds are still against you, they’re better than betting 1 chip per hand. That means you stand to win more money overall!

There are some things to keep in mind before deciding to split though. Before we dive into the reasons why you might want to split, let’s cover a few basics about how to make this happen.

How to Split Pairs in Live Dealer Blackjack

  • Wait until you’re dealt 2 cards
  • Check the value of your first card
  • Compare it to your second card. If both values match up, then you know you have a pair. At this point, you’re done making any adjustments to your bet. It’s time to check out the next hand.
  • If you wish to split, press 2 buttons on the table. One button will show you the total amount of the bet, while the other will give you the option to split.
  • Your first action is to decide which number you would like to bet on. Choose between $10 or $25. Remember, if you don’t like the result, you can simply press the split button again.
  • Once you’ve made your decision, you need to select how many chips you want to place on each side of the original bet. The minimum payout here is 25%. If you pick 50%, you’ll pay $50 each time you lose. If you choose 100% (which is the highest), then you’ll only be losing 25% of your total bet at all times.
  • After you’ve placed your wagers, wait for the dealer’s final card to land.
  • If the dealer gives you a 3, 4, or 9, you win. Otherwise, you lose.

Why You Should Split Pairs in Blackjack

Now that we’ve covered the mechanics of how to split, let’s dig deeper into why you should ever consider doing so.

Reason #1: To Increase Your Odds

One thing to note right away is that you’re putting more money on the line when using splitting. This means that you’re increasing your risk level. But you shouldn’t just consider this fact its reason; rather, it’s part of a bigger picture.

By doubling your bets, you’re giving yourself more options regarding how your hand does. Let’s say you have 12, but you think that your next card is a 10. By hitting, you’ll lose half your money, making your loss $12. However, by hitting and splitting, you now stand to gain $24.

So what happens if you miss the 10? Well, since your original bet was $25, you’ll get paid $0.75 instead of $0. This makes you $23.75 richer, which isn’t bad in the big picture.

Another simple example: If you were playing $100, you could hit and split once, or you could fold and play another $100. Either way, you’d end up with a net profit of $200.

Reason #2: To Make More Money

In addition to being able to increase your odds, you also stand to make more money. As mentioned above, splitting doubles the number of chips you’re risking, meaning that you’ll always double your potential winnings.

This doesn’t mean that you should be hitting every time you see a 10. Sometimes, you should hold off because you aren’t sure if you’ll get the required two cards. So if you do end up having a 10 come up, later on, you won’t have to worry about whether there’s a tiebreaker coming down.

Reason #3: To Eliminate Doubles

If you’re feeling lucky and want to eliminate doubles, then you may find that splitting is the best choice. Because the doubled bets are now separate, they no longer count towards doubling your chip stack.

For example, suppose you have an Ace and King paired together. Both have the same value of 11. Instead of betting $5, you can split those two pairs into three separate bets, giving you three chances to win $10.

Reason #4: To Minimize Losses and Double Up Your Wins

Lastly, you can use splitting to minimize losses and maximize wins. In general, splitting will reduce your losses whenever possible. When your opponent gets rid of his/her pair, then he/she has to raise their bet. Unless they want to go broke, they’ll usually fold. And even if they do continue to play after your initial split, they’ll likely be going bust sooner than you would have otherwise.

Additionally, when your hands turn into winners, you can take advantage of doubling your money. Whenever you happen to hit, you’ll automatically double your earnings. This goes back to the point about increasing your odds — if you strike twice, you’ll have twice as much to work with.

Of course, you don’t need to spend hours agonizing over all these reasons before deciding to try splitting. The only real question you should ask yourself is “Do I feel lucky?” If so, then go for it!


While many players avoid splitting due to the thought of losing money, this strategy can help you become wealthier.