Perhaps the most controversial and common mistake players tend to make in blackjack is with “splitting aces”. Should you always split aces? The short answer, most players will tell you through their play is yes, you should. But that is patently untrue and will lead you to a losing strategy.
For obvious reasons, when you have an ace against a: 3,4,5,6 or 7 – yes, you should split. Always. But against the 8, 9, 10 & Ace- cards which the dealer will draw 6 out of 13 times. There are two important facts to bear in mind with this scenario. Firstly, when you draw an ace as your first card- you only get one more card- when you split. This severely limits your the power and advantage you have in holding those aces. Secondly, you must always remember that the average winning hand at blackjack is 18.5.
Look at what happens when we do split aces:
1. A- King, Queen, Jack or Ten gives us 21, where we get paid even money – so we’re fine here.
2. A- Nine gives us 20 and an 8 gives us 19, so again we’re doing well.
3. A- 7 gives us a less than average 18 hand.
4. A- 6 gives us a very weak hand of 17.
5. A – 2,3,4, or 5 gives us an extremely weak 13, 14, 15, and 16 and no opportunity to improve our hand.
6. An ace gives us a terrible 12 and no chance to split again.
So, in total, this only gives us 12 combinations of hands to make a strong showing, while the dealer has multiple opportunities to keep going until busting or making a decent hand.
And I hope that I don’t need to reiterate the illogical madness of splitting aces when the dealer holds an ace, as under most house rules- a natural blackjack held by the dealer will beat the split blackjack of the player.
The reason why this is so controversial is that so many players will follow “the book” and become incredibly angry with you when you, with your two aces, hit on 2 against the dealer’s 10, and end up drawing to color cards and going bust instead of making two naturals.
But you must play the odds and ignore them, as I assure you, this strategy will keep you in the game a lot longer than their “always split aces”.