Lesson 16 – The Advanced Course – Part 4

Last Updated: February 18, 2020

Basic Strategy Variations: To Split or Not To Split

The primary factor to consider when splitting pairs is whether or not your casino of choice allows doubling after splitting (DAS). If DAS is allowed, you must have the proper basic strategy memorized. I see players make a lot of errors in splitting pairs, primarily with a hand of 8, 8. Most know that a pair of 8s should be split against all up cards, but most stand when they hold them against a dealer’s 10. The cost of that mistake isn’t huge, simply because a hand of 8,8 is fairly rare. But by standing, a player has an expectation of -.537% and by splitting (if DAS is allowed), an expectation of -.483% is realized. So, the extra money which is put to risk does — in the long run — give a better return. Think of it this way. Would you rather stand with a 16 against a 10 or hit an 8 against a 10? By splitting, you get to hit an 8. Incidentally, the numbers also indicate that splitting is best when DAS isn’t allowed, though there isn’t as big a difference.

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As the true count goes up, you’ll split more and as it goes down, you’ll split less. One play which is justified by a high count is the splitting of 10s. For example, there may come a time when it’s worthwhile to split a pair of face cards against a 6. I counsel my students to avoid that play since it draws such a negative reaction from other players at the table. I don’t really care what the others at a table think of my play, but if the floor personnel are alerted to what I’ve done, their initial suspicion may be that I’m a counter. If they’ve seen me playing good basic strategy and suddenly I have a big bet out and I do something like splitting 10s against a 6, they’re going to think I’m either very stupid or very smart. I guess it all relates to the image your projecting in the casino; if it’s one of a ‘wild man’, then go for it. But if you’re quiet, polite and a non-drinker, I’d advise against making the play.

All other splitting situations should be followed to the letter; especially that of splitting 4s against a 5 or 6 (if DAS is allowed). Most people don’t have the pairs part of basic strategy memorized perfectly, so they won’t know what’s right or wrong when you do it and most think it’s wrong to split 4s. Nothing quite like making the right play and looking like a dummy when you do it!

As you go through the numbers on splitting pairs, you’ll see that some don’t agree with those published by Stanford Wong and other authors. As I’ve explained before, some have been modified as a result of Friedman’s study on risk-averse play, and I feel they take no advantage from you yet do lower your risk somewhat.

Note from the BlackjackInfo.com editor:

There are slight differences in the GameMaster’s index numbers published here and the optimized numbers on the
BlackjackInfo Advanced Blackjack Strategy Cards.

These differences are usually due to the use of risk-averse calculations by the GameMaster. I maintain that for the majority
of players (who are not playing near the maximum Kelly fraction of their bankroll), straight indexes are preferable to
risk-adjusted ones. In any case where risk-averse indexes differ from straight indexes, even by several points,
the decisions are quite close and the effect of choosing one index style over another is minimal.

Basic Strategy Variations:
Double after split allowed.
3,3 vs. 2Hit at 0 or lower.(Instead of splitting.)
4,4 vs. 5Hit at -1 or lower.(Instead of splitting.)
4,4 vs. 6Hit at -2 or lower.(Instead of splitting.)
6,6 vs. 2Hit at -1 or lower.(Instead of splitting.)
8,8 vs. 10Stand at 8.(If the count is really high, you do stand instead of hit.)
9,9 vs. 7Split at 6.This is a “risk-averse” play.

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Hello Ken, first of all I would like to thank you for such a wonderful course, my game has come on leaps and bounds since reading it, I have been putting in about 4 hours training in per day for the last month and I have made all the flash cards for strategy deviations and have been learning them at a steady pace, it has occurred to me however that some of the flash cards may not be applicable for the set of rules I play here in the U.K.

They are:
Stand all 17s
European hole card rules
Double after split allowed
Double any two cards
Unlimited splitting
No surrender option




Thanks for the answer ken.i hope all the best 4 you !


hi ken !!! these choices are the same also for european blackjack ? in very bad- low counts a hand like pair of 6 against a 4 or a 5 dealers how should be played ? hit stop or split ?knowing the remaining cards it plays a little with your mind and the bs .thanks 4 your answer


hi admin!!when should we buy insurance?thank you so much~~


thank you very much!you are so kind!Do you mean split ttv6 is not worth even at a true count of 10?

besides, can you tell me when should we surrender while 17vs10 and 18vs10,A5vs10,A6VS10,A7VS10?thank you!!!!


hi Ken Smith!when we are at a true count of +10,we should play one bet or several bets in one game?thank you so much~~~~~


thank you so much!but what is the meaning of “If it causes you to get backed off”,can you explain it?thank you^^


when should we split 10.10?and when should we surrender while 17 against dealer’s hand 10?thanks a lot!!!


what is the meaning of no peek?


In the European and UK game, where dealer has no peek at his hole card, if the player has A,A v A and splits, then obtaining 2 x 21’s, the dealer gets a natural and wins all the splits. It is for this reason that a very experienced pro said A,A is not a split. However, another source says to split anyway since the split A’s are strong enough to warrant it.
The vast majority of books on BJ are not written with enough consideration for European/UK rules.
What do you suggest please?


On a flat shoe and European game, DAS, 4,4 v 5 (6) is a split. I hate this move and I split. From my probability charts a 4 v 6 less chance of winning than 8 v 6. So why is the BS move to split?


Hi Ken

Gr8 site and delivery. Thank you.

I have 3 questions regarding splits. The 8,8 v 10; 4,4 v 5 (6); and A, A vAce

I recently had a shoe that went to TC5+ and had max bets over 2 boxes. The first box produced a split and double. Which in turn produced another double. The second box produced a split and double also. The count had now come down to TC3+. The split was 8.8 and dealer was 10. Would u believe it, the split produced 2 more spits each being 8,8. I split one more time and decided I had too much money on the table and just stuck the final 8,8. My sessional roll just about contained all these splits and doubles but my nerves ran out as I decided it was too much. Should the correct play be to keep splitting 8,8s v 10 so long as sessional bank could contain it? This is UK rules.


For 8,8Vs10, do you stand at 8 and higher or is it specifically just at 8?
Also, for 9,9Vs7, do you split at 6 and higher or is it specifically just at 6?


For these charts on whether to hit, split , double , or stand is the determining count the true count or running count


I have alot of ??s


Any way i can contact you by phone


thanks for your help this is a great site well done for making it


shouldnt you surrender 8,8 against a 10 if the count is high rather than stand as if not splitting you just play it like a normal 16?


Whats the veriation for dealer must hit soft 17? I would lile that chart if possible. Thanx

Ben Nelson

Thanks for answering my last question; I think this is the best spot for my question about doubles and splits.
A few casinos offer to “pay for your doubles and splits.”
I’m guessing this is actually very few hands, but how does this affect a player advantage (assuming you keep using correct strategy)?
Thanks again,

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