Each Blackjack game begins with the dealer dealing each player two cards face up. The dealer himself receives two cards as well, but only one of them is face up; the other remains hidden until the game’s end.

After the first two cards have been dealt, players usually have three options. Players must choose which option to apply to their specific hand while keeping in mind that the object of the game “21 Blackjack” is to get closer to 21 than the dealer without busting over 21. With this objective in mind, players can choose to: Hit, giving them an additional card to add to their existing two-card value; Stand with the hand as is; or Double Down, doubling the bet, accepting one hit, and standing from thereafter.

Sometimes, however, Blackjack rules allow players a fourth option. This option is only available to players who begin the game with a pair, or two cards of the same value. Players with a pair have the additional option of Splitting, or breaking apart their pair to create two separate hands.

Knowing which of these four options to choose can be a difficult decision for a player holding a pair. If playing according to a Blackjack strategy called “Basic Blackjack,” however, players will know exactly which option gives them the best chance of winning. Based on Blackjack odds, the strategy uses mathematical calculations to determine the best option for each specific hand. Basic Strategy Blackjack tips take into account both the value of the player’s two cards as well as the value of the dealer’s face up card.

Most of the time in Blackjack, players with a pair are recommended to Split. In some instances, however, Splitting will not be the logical choice. For example, a player with a pair of tens (or face cards) will be better off Standing with a total of 20 than Splitting the pair. For every other pair, however, the best option varies according to the value of the dealer’s up card. Blackjack gambling odds change constantly with each scenario in an attempt to account for the likely outcome of a dealer’s hand based on his up card. Players must remember that the game’s goal is to score a higher hand than the dealer, so strategy tends to shift depending on the odds that the dealer can reach a high total with what he is holding.

Players are recommended to Split a pair in all scenarios but these (“10” = ten card and face cards):

9-9: If Dealer has 7, 10 or A, Stand
7-7: If Dealer has 8, 9, 10 or A, Hit
6-6: If Dealer has 7 – 10 or A, Hit
5-5: If Dealer has 2 – 9, Double Down; If Dealer has 10 or A, Hit
4-4: If Dealer has any card except for 5 or 6, Hit
3-3; 2-2: If Dealer has 8 to A, Hit

Memorizing these odds while learning how to play Blackjack can greatly increase a player’s chance of winning.

By Gene Marshall
blackjack authority Gene Marshall is commissioned by many popular online blackjack publications. The author specializes in articles about blackjack tournaments rules and blackjack. Extra articles published by Gene Marshall about internet blackjack can be accessed on line.