Nearly every blackjack basic strategy chart will tell you to split 8's, but never 10. Even seasoned players will tell you that splitting the former is always a good idea and that splitting the latter will get you in a tough spot.
What is the advantage of splitting 8's and the disadvantage of splitting 8's versus 10's? This article will answer that question by closely examining splitting both hands' results. To dive deeper into the strategy, check out our guide on pair splitting.
Why Should You Split 8's?
A pair of 8's values is the main reason splitting this hand is the ideal action out of the other options since you are holding a 16 here. Holding onto a 16 puts you at a disadvantage over a dealer who will draw until they get a 17 or better. According to blackjack statistics, you have a 29.01% chance of winning if the dealer goes bust.
Hitting with a 16 is also not ideal since drawing cards with a value of 6 or higher is possible. You can lose 69.31% if you decide to hit a pair of 8's. The chances of losing should also show why doubling down on this card is terrible.
Splitting 8's in blackjack is the only option in playing this hand that will grant you a better chance of winning. There is a chance you can draw an ace to get a soft 19, which gives you a decisive advantage over a dealer with a 7 or 8 revealed card. Even if the dealer has an ace card, the odds are in your favor of a push. Think of this action as a way to escape the dreaded 16 hands and get a better one.
Some experts advise against splitting 8's if the dealer has a nine or higher card. Splitting an eight-pair can only grant you an 18 or 19-hand. If the dealer has a ten or an ace, you might double your losses by splitting your hand. Should this be the scenario, it is a good idea to surrender your 8's instead of splitting them.
Why Avoid Splitting 10's
Splitting 10's in blackjack is always a bad option since you already hold a solid hand or a 20. The only hand a dealer can draw to beat you is a 21, while hitting a 20 will result in a push. Breaking a 20 into two 10's increases the risk of losing twice your steak compared to winning with just one. Still curious about the intricacies of this? Learn more about splitting non-pairs in blackjack.
What will likely happen when you split 10's are two hard hands. New players who just became familiar with the rules will think 10's is an excellent opportunity to get two natural blackjacks or two 20s. Unfortunately, the odds of getting either strong hand are around 20%.
A blackjack hard hand consists of a ten and any non-ace cards. Any hand that carries a ten can go bust on the first hit. A 12 or a 13 can surpass 21 if you draw another 10. The odds of gaining a hard hand and not a blackjack or another 10 is very high, so it is never a good idea to split 10's.
Usually, you would not split 10's because the chances of drawing an ace or ten are significantly lower. What if the odds of getting these cards are much higher? Card counters have the advantage if they can penetrate the deck by determining the number of high-valued cards left on the shoe. If the actual count shows aces or tens within the shoe that have yet to be drawn, this is the best time to split 10's and take an opportunity at a double natural blackjack or 20s.
Playing a Hard 16 Hand
Having 8's can grant you a safe option of splitting your hand to avoid having 16s. A hard 16 is one of the trickiest hands to play in blackjack since hitting can lead to a bust while standing will leave you with a weak hand against the dealer. Understanding blackjack hands can be crucial in making informed decisions.
Card counters will barely have an advantage here because most counting methods do not account for specific cards such as 4's, 5's, 6's, or 7's. What should you do if you do not have the option to split?
If the options are available, surrendering a hard 16 is your best choice. The surrender option lets you give up the round and take back half your stake. This option is ideal if you are up against a dealer with a ten or ace revealed card, which signals that you are about to face a more substantial hand. Surrendering can cut your losses if you think your hand will lose.
Hitting and standing will be your only options if the blackjack table does not allow you to surrender. Standing is ideal if the dealer only has a two, three, four, five, six, or seven-revealed card. With these cards, the dealer can bust out with one or more cards. Your odds of going bust here with a 16 are high, so you will want to stand with this hand if possible.
If the dealer has eight, nine, ten, or ace cards, hitting is your best option. Holding onto a 16 is not a good idea since the dealer may have a more substantial hand when these are their revealed card. To avoid losing, hitting gives you a slight chance at winning or pushing against the dealer's 19 or 20.
Playing a Soft 20 Hand
While splitting is not the best action for a pair of 10's, what is the best option for a soft 20? This hand consists of an ace and nine cards, allowing you to hit without going over 21.
Standing is the best action with a soft 20 despite having no risk of going bust. You already have a strong hand against the dealer who needs a 20 to push. Even if the dealer has a ten or an ace, you have an advantage over them with a 20. Breaking this hand by hitting will leave you with a hard hand that will likely be less than 20.
Under normal circumstances, you should always stand with a soft 20. However, any soft hand is an excellent opportunity to double down in a blackjack tournament where you must get the most significant number of chips in a limited time or hands. You must do risky plays to qualify for the prize pool in tournaments.
Splitting 8's is the best option to break a 16 hand, while standing with a pair of 10 will give you a firm hand. There are circumstances when you can consider straying from the basic strategy, such as splitting ten pairs if aces or kings are coming.
This article was published on August 16, 2023, and last updated on August 16, 2023.