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# Splitting 10s: Smart or dumb?

18 February 2011

You sometimes see blackjack players splitting a pair of 10s, especially when the dealer is showing a 5 or 6 upcard. They figure, Why not split the 10s to get more money on the table when the dealer has a good chance of busting with the 5 or 6? Sounds logical, but is it really the best play? Let's see.

Splitting

The statistical data on how many hands you win and lose when you split a pair of 10s against a dealer 5 and 6 is as follows:

 Dealer's Upcard Win Lose 5 63% 37% 6 64% 36%

That's interesting. If you split a pair of 10s against the dealer 6 you are going to win 64 percent of the times and lose only 36 percent (net gain of 28 percent). You are overwhelmingly the favorite and stand to win money when you split. In fact, for every \$100 you bet on the 10s, you'll wind up with a \$56 profit on average (calculated as 2, because you split, times (64 minus 36)). Facing a dealer's 5, you'll also expect to be ahead by \$52 when you split the 10s.

The profit expectations for splitting 10s against a dealer 5 or 6 look very good. However, before we take the money to the bank, let's look at the other option, namely, standing on your 20.

Standing

If you stand on your pair of 10s, you have a pat 20. That's a pretty good standing hand and, in fact, you'd expect the percentage of times that you win to be greater than splitting because when you split 10s, you are not guaranteed to wind up with two 20s. Often your split hands will total less than 20.

You'll win about 85 percent of the time when you stand on 20 against the dealer's 5, which is roughly a 20 percent increase over splitting. This means when you stand on your 10s, against the dealer's 5, you can expect to win roughly \$70 per \$100 wagered. The profit potential against a dealer's 6 is similar.

 Dealer's Upcard Win Lose 5 84% 16% 6 85% 15%

A light bulb should have gone off in your head. The above data says that even though you'll make money when you split 10s against a dealer 5 and 6, you stand to make more money by standing with 20 (you'll make about \$14 more per \$100 wagered). Therefore, the answer to the question posed at the start of this article is this: If you are a basic strategy player, you should never split 10s when the dealer shows a 5 and 6. In fact, you should never split 10s no matter what the dealer shows.

Now, what about those players that you see splitting 10s. Are they all clueless?

Not necessarily. Card counters sometimes split 10s when the dealer shows a 5 or 6 but only when the remaining pack of cards is loaded with 10s, which card counters would know because they are tracking the high and low cards.

When the deck is 10 rich, the card counter has a good chance of drawing 10s for two pat 20 hands (and maybe even drawing an ace for 21). In addition, the dealer's chance of busting increases when the deck is loaded with 10s and she has to draw. Therefore, the odds are in the card counter's favor to make more money splitting 10s when the deck is 10 rich. So the next time that you see a fellow player split 10s, don't write him off as a clueless player because he just might be a skillful card counter -- although I must say that most players who split 10s are usually clueless rather than skillful.

Are there any other situations where splitting 10s is a better play than standing? The answer is yes, and that's in a last hand of a blackjack tournament. For example, I recently played in a blackjack tournament and I won my first round by splitting 10s, coincidentally against a dealer 6 upcard. I didn't split my 10s because the deck was 10 rich; I split them for another reason: I needed to win more money to overtake a leader. Here's what happened.

The above scenario is an example of why splitting 10s in tournaments is sometimes a smart play, especially when you need to bet more money to beat an opponent. You've got to remember, however, to split your bankroll in half before you bet, otherwise, you won't be able to pair split. Unlike doubling down, you can't pair split for less.

The bottom line for splitting 10s against a dealer 5 and 6 is this:

• Average players should never split and should always stand on 20.
• Card counters will sometimes split in ten-rich decks.
• Smart tournament players will sometimes split when they need to bet more chips.
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Henry Tamburin

Henry Tamburin is the author of the best-selling book, Blackjack: Take The Money and Run, editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter, and Lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course. For a free 3-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter with full membership privileges, visit www.bjinsider.com/free. For details on the Golden Touch Blackjack course visit www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 866/WIN-BJ21. For a free copy of his casino gambling catalog featuring over 50 products call 888/353-3234 or visit the Internet store at www.smartgaming.com.

#### Henry Tamburin Websites:

www.smartgaming.com

#### Books by Henry Tamburin:

Henry Tamburin
Henry Tamburin is the author of the best-selling book, Blackjack: Take The Money and Run, editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter, and Lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course. For a free 3-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter with full membership privileges, visit www.bjinsider.com/free. For details on the Golden Touch Blackjack course visit www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 866/WIN-BJ21. For a free copy of his casino gambling catalog featuring over 50 products call 888/353-3234 or visit the Internet store at www.smartgaming.com.

#### Henry Tamburin Websites:

www.smartgaming.com

#### Books by Henry Tamburin:

Winning Baccarat Strategies