Splitting 8s in Blackjack

 Splitting 8s in Blackjack

Sometimes in blackjack, the best offense is a good defense. And splitting pairs is often a form of defense.

Take a pair of 8s, especially when the dealer has a 10 face up. If we play it as a 16, we bust too often if we hit, and if we stand, the dealer beats us all 79 percent of the time he makes 17 or better.

If we split the 8s, making a second bet to start a separate hand with each 8, we’ll still lose more money than we win when the dealer shows a 10. But 8 is a much better building block than 16, and we’ll lose less money by splitting the pair than by playing the 16. Sometimes the dealer will have another 10 face down and we’ll lose both hands, but that’s just something we have to accept on the way to lower overall losses.

If we split 8s when the dealer has a 6 face up, then we’re playing offense, turning a losing situation into one that wins more often than not. With a 16 against a dealer’s 6, we lose more often than we win. But starting with 8 against a 6, we have an edge against the dealer.

It would be nice if we could always be playing offense to put ourselves in a winning situation, but blackjack doesn’t work that way. There are times the best play is to minimize losses.

Always split 8s. You’ll sometimes lose two bets at once, but in the long run, it’ll save you money against the dealer’s toughest up cards, and make you money when the dealer has weaker cards.

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