Blackjack Strategy: Splitting and Doubling Down Explained

Blackjack Strategy: Splitting and Doubling Down Explained

The point of blackjack is to beat the dealer to 21 or the highest value hand that doesn’t surpass 21. Tighten up your blackjack strategy by understanding the game’s most risky, yet rewarding moves: the blackjack double down and blackjack split. With the right strategy, you can reduce the house edge and keep up.

Although entirely different from one another, each has the potential to boost the total payout for a particular hand. Read our useful guide to the blackjack split and double. We go over the truth about card counting, when to split in blackjack and how to take advantage of the blackjack double.

Card Counting

Depending on who you ask, counting cards is either smart blackjack strategy or straight-up cheating. Despite common misconceptions, there are no laws against card counting at either the federal, state or local level in the US. It’s the casino that doesn’t want you to try getting an edge on the house.

You might think it’s easier online since there’s no one over your shoulder, but every online casino does its best to inconvenience card counting blackjack players. From frequent shuffling to fewer hands per hour and harsh penalties for anyone suspected of card counting, don’t count on getting away with it.

Overall, online casinos will absolutely kill your card counting blackjack strategy. We suggest you stick to using effective strategies that are legit, such as splitting or doubling down.

Splitting

Blackjack rules make this move available whenever you’re dealt a pair of cards with the same value. Splitting will take an additional bet, then separate your first two cards into two different hands to play against the dealer. For an additional bet, you can get two hands to beat the dealer.

Splitting will raise the stakes and make the game a little more interesting. Before choosing to split, it’s important to understand whether or not it’s even a good idea for the hand you have. Just because you can split, doesn’t always mean you should. It’s not obvious when to split in blackjack.

Playing two blackjack hands will give you two shots at besting the dealer but what’s the use if you’re likely to blow it anyway? Here are some tips for splitting in blackjack:

  • Always split the aces
    When dealt two aces, you’ve got to split them! With as many as 16 cards with the value of 10, the chances of hitting blackjack twice when you split aces are really high. Despite the dealer’s upcard, it’s always a good idea to split the aces.
  • Eights are better split
    The math just doesn’t support a pair of 8s. A pair of 8s equals 16, which can only make blackjack if dealt a 5. The chances of getting that aren’t very high but the 8s will have a lot more potential split than together. Split the 8s.
  • Split the 9s
    The stats tell us this is a go-to blackjack split if the dealer shows a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 or 9. Although, if the dealer shows a 7, 10 or ace it may be better to stay.
  • Never split the 10s.
    When dealt a pair of 10s, there really isn’t much splitting them could do to make your hand better. This is a hand you should stay.
  • Don’t split the 4s
    If you get a pair of 4s, this is not when to split in blackjack. Splitting the 4s will just give you two equally bad hands. At least, with two 4s in hand, it’s impossible to bust out after one hit.
  • Not the 5s either
    Splitting 5s is a lot like splitting 4s, except worse. Having a pair of 5s means you have 10 in hand. Hit for the ace or maybe even double down if the dealer shows anything but a 9, 10, or ace.

Double Down

After being dealt the first two cards, you’ll be given the option to double down. This means you’re doubling the size of the initial bet in exchange for just one last hit.

It can often turn out to be a risky call. That’s why it’s critical to understand whether or not doubling is a good idea for your current hand.

When you choose to double, all you get is one final shot at blackjack. Many suggest saving the blackjack double for hands that have the value of 10 or 11.

Given the potentially high number of 10s that are available in the deck, these hands have the highest likelihood of scoring a 10 and reaching blackjack.

You have to be strategic with the blackjack double down. This move can help you get blackjack immediately or go bust fast. Here are some hands we think are worth doubling.

  • Double hard 10s
    Any hand with the value of 10 is good to double down. The deck has four 10s and up to twelve face cards that also carry 10, the likelihood of you scoring a 20 is high and worth doubling on.
  • Double hard 11s
    This is blackjack’s strongest hand. The reason you should double down this hand is there are more cards with a value of 10 than any other in the deck, meaning you’re likely to get blackjack.
  • Double Ace + 2-7
    When you have an ace and another card valued 2 through 7, the double down is a good play. Although, you have to beware doubling when the dealer’s up-card shows a 2, 7 or greater.

Recommended Blackjack Sites

Most online casinos offer demo versions of all the casino games featured at their platform, letting you play games like blackjack for free. This lets you practice and develop your blackjack strategy in the most useful way.

Play blackjack for fun at the very same sites where can play blackjack for real money. Get accustomed to the rules, gameplay and mechanics at the sites you can see yourself signing up for and using to play blackjack. We recommend the following blackjack sites:

Golden Nugget Casino

This complete online casino provides a full lineup of casino games you can play from the desktop site or the mobile casino app. Play as many free blackjack demos as you want from anywhere before even signing up for an account with Golden Nugget.

Tropicana

This online casino has various kinds of blackjack that you can play from the desktop site and the mobile casino app. From classic blackjack to multi hand, single deck and other blackjack games, you can practice your blackjack strategy with the at Tropicana.

Caesars

This online casino features around five different blackjack titles that also come with demo versions you can play for fun. Play all the blackjack you want to get the very practice you need for free without having to sign up for an account with Caesars.

Recommended Casino Sites

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