Splitting a Pair of 4’s

As Blackjack is a game of skills, it allows players who have the needed knowledge and strategy to gain advantage over the casino and win in the long run. There are a lot of factors that play crucial role during the course of the game and in order to become winners, they need to focus on every single aspect.

One compulsory thing for players who strive to improve their game constantly, not just play recklessly, is to be familiar with the possible options each hand gives them. Following a reliable strategy and having money management skills are also some of the requirements if they want to succeed in winning. Players who have thought every situation through are able to make better choices and moves and it shows in their way of playing.

One of the important choices they need to make at some point during the game is when to split. Despite the fact many inexperienced gamblers adhere to the saying that they should split whenever their first two cards are of the same rank, this is often not the case.

There are some occasions where it is best to refrain from such a move and proceed in another way instead. In this chapter, we will consider the situations when players have a pair of 4s in their hand.

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When to Split a Pair of 4s

As already mentioned, it is really important to know when to split a particular pair as it can make a huge difference in the long run. Every move gives players new options and possibilities and if they want to get the best ones, the only way is to make the appropriate choices.

When being dealt a pair of 4s (hard 8), blackjack players are presented with three viable basic strategy moves – they can draw, double down, or split. Standing is not an option since not hitting a hard 8 is clearly nonsensical. The only way for a hard 8 to win is for the dealer to bust.

Playing conditions are the single most essential thing to take into account before you pick a strategy chart to employ at the tables. This is because the optimal playing strategy is impacted by different factors like pack number, the value of the dealer’s exposed card, and the availability of doubling down following a split (DAS). Assuming the house rules support DAS, the right time to split your pair of 4s in double-deck and shoe-dealt blackjack is whenever the dealer’s upcard is a 5 or a 6.

The odds are that eight out of thirteen cards will be beneficial for the player. There are six cards in the deck that will place them in a standing position whilst the dealer’s in a disadvantageous one and two more other cards that will leave them with a total of eleven or ten.

Another reason why players should split 4s in these cases is that this move can result in a situation suitable for doubling down. This allows them to increase their bet and make the most of these situations.

Player is dealt a pair of 4’s. Dealer’s Up card is a 5. Player should Split.

You should hit your hard 8 (4-4) when the dealer exposes any of the other possible cards (2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, and ace). The reason for this is that a hand starting with a 4 holds better versus the dealer’s 6 or 5 compared to a hard total of 8, which produces lower expected value on average.

The logic behind splitting 4s versus the 6 is that it earns you the most sizable winnings in the long term compared to hitting or doubling down. This is to say players can expect larger profits on average by starting two individual hands with a total of 4 compared to the expectation they can generate by hitting or doubling down on a hard total of 8.

EV of 4-4 vs. 6 in Shoe-Dealt and Double-Deck Games with DAS
Splitting +0.151377
Hitting +0.114960
Doubling Down +0.087015

It is apparent splitting is the best strategy here since it translates into 4 pence more per £1 wagered compared to hitting and 6 pence more than the double down. Given that house rules prohibit DAS, you should opt for the next best play, which is obviously hitting.

4-4 Basic Strategy for Double-Deck and Shoe-Dealt NDAS Games
Player’s Hand Dealer Upcard
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Ace
4-4 H H H H H H H H H H

Here is another example with a pair of 4-4 when the exposed card of the dealer is a 3. This is still considered a weak card for the dealer but in this case, both the double down and the split produce long-term losses for the players. Hitting is the most effective play with 4s versus a 3 because it is by far the only play that gives the basic strategist positive expected value.

Strategy for Paired 4s in Single-Deck Blackjack

The situation is different when a player joins a table where the cards are dealt out a single deck only. This would require several adjustments to be made on behalf of patrons. Without regard to the S17 and H17 rules, single-deck blackjack players are advised to split their 4s versus the dealer’s 4, 5, and 6 and hit versus the rest of the possible exposed cards (2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, and ace) but only on condition they can double after they split.

4-4 Basic Strategy for Single-Deck Games with DAS
Player’s Hand Dealer Upcard
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Ace
4-4 H H Ph Pd Pd H H H H H
H = Hit; Ph = Split if you can double down after splitting pairs, or else hit; Pd = Split if you can double after splitting pairs, or else double down on hard 8

Assuming the single-deck table abides by the NDAS rule, all possible plays (bar standing) translate into positive expected value with 4s against the 5 and 6. However, doubling down is considered the most effective play because it ensures the largest profits in the long run.

On the downside, many single-deck variations of blackjack have limitations on the two-card totals players can double on. In many instances, doubling is restricted to starting hands of hard 9, 10, and ace. When this is the case, players should hit their 4-4 (hard 8) when the dealer shows low cards like 4, 5, and 6.

When the Dealer’s Upcard is 4

Splitting 4-4 is acceptable on occasion the dealer’s upcard is 4 and you are playing single-deck DAS blackjack. Keep in mind this is a terribly poor move in variants that utilize more than one full pack of cards, regardless of whether DAS or NDAS is in effect. We already touched upon this subject earlier but it bears repeating.

In multi-deck blackjack, hitting 4s versus a 4 gives you average profits of roughly 4 pence for every £1 you spend on this hand. By contrast, splitting this pair against the 4 causes you to lose around 2 pence for every £1 wagered. So what option do you prefer – losing £0.02 or winning £0.04 on average? Any person with common sense would choose the latter.

When to Avoid Splitting a Pair of 4s

As already mentioned in the above example, there are cases when players’ best choice is not to split their pair of 4s. Instead, they should choose to hit in order to avoid putting themselves in a breaking position.

This move should be made whenever the dealer’s upcard is 2, 3, or from 7 through ace in single-deck NDAS and multiple-deck blackjack. When hitting, players can get an ace which leaves them with a total of 19 in their hand. If they draw 2 or 3, this gives them the opportunity to double down.

Whenever the dealer’s upcard is 3, the best decision with a pair of 4-4 would be to hit. All basic strategy charts, without regard to the house rules for the dealer and the pack number, advise against splitting your 4s versus the dealer’s 3. Splitting this pair is entirely inappropriate where players’ expectation is concerned.

The basic strategy for double- and multiple-deck DAS tables favours hitting, albeit by a very minuscule margin, because this is the only play that produces positive expectation under these circumstances and playing conditions.

The same cannot be said for splitting 4s against a 3, which is strictly a negative-EV move no matter how you look at it. In reality, a split of the 4-4 versus the 3 will cost you nearly 11 pence per every £1 bet you make on this hand in shoe-dealt DAS blackjack.

While it is true there is a chance of ending up with breaking hands when splitting your 4-4, you should trust in basic strategy. Show some perseverance, discipline, and above all, common sense. Playing optimally does not guarantee you shall beat the dealer every single time but it sure does have a positive impact on your long-term results. Arm yourself with patience. You will see the strategy works if you are consistent enough.

Player is dealt a pair of 4’s. Dealer’s Up card is a 10. Player should Hit.

Resplitting and Other Important Things to Consider

Splitting 4s is a situation that should definitely draw the players’ attention as this move offers the possibility to double down afterward and thus, they will be able to increase their money bet. However, they need to take into account the fact that some casinos do not allow doubling down after splitting or have certain restrictions regarding that matter. Therefore, they need to get familiar in advance with them and even the rules on each table as sometimes they differ from one another.

It is really important for players to take their time and consider these requirements beforehand as sometimes their strategy can be influenced by them and if they are not allowed that changes the whole picture. Another important thing to take into account is that in the situations where they have a pair of 4s against a 4 as the dealer’s upcard, it is only acceptable to split (rather than hit) in single-deck blackjack that permits them to double after a pair split.

Many online blackjack variants enable players to resplit to a maximum of three or four hands. This is beneficial so we suggest you take advantage of this option whenever you catch another 4 after splitting your 4s against the dealer’s 6 or 5. Resplit your 4s against these small upcards as many times as the house rules allow you to.

Conclusion

Having the necessary knowledge when it comes to playing blackjack is crucial if players want to win in the long run. It is extremely important for them to know the rules thoroughly and understand the strategy they use.

If they are familiar with the most common hands and know when and why they should split, this increases their chances of winning significantly. All that knowledge can be applied correctly and leads to the desired results only if players have discipline and money management skills.

Splitting a pair of 4s is one of the moves which offers them a lot of opportunities to increase their bet afterward. Such occasions should be valued if players want to make the most of every game and leave the casino as winners.