Splitting a Pair of 8’s

A lot of players, even the ones who have been enjoying Blackjack for years, make the common mistake to sit on the table without the needed preparation. They stick to the old unwritten rules and don’t take into account the fact that throughout the years many professional gamblers have observed the patterns of the game thoroughly and managed to develop and improve the basic strategy significantly. The statement that whenever players have a pair of 8’s they should always split is well-known and it has been used by many of them all over the world. However, more and more arguments are appearing against some of the cases of this pair which suggest that splitting is the best move. It is just one of those tricky situations which will always provoke heated discussions and second thoughts during the game. In such cases, there is no good or bad move, just different opinions with different odds.

It is really important players to know what is the best way to proceed in advance, especially in such tricky situations in order to reduce the amount of their money loss to minimum. As already mentioned having a pair of 8’s is a challenging position to be in and therefore, it is best to have a look at the reasons why a particular move is suggested to be the most reasonable one. Of course, even though Blackjack is a game of skills, after all it’s played in a casino and there can never be a 100% guarantee for winning.

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Reasons to Split a Pair of 8’s

The Basic Strategy suggests to always split a pair of 8’s regardless of the dealer’s up card. In most cases this is players’ best move as having a total of sixteen is a breaking hand and it places them in a very unfavourable position as they can easily go bust. Any card above five will cause them to lose the hand if they decide to risk by hitting. The odds in such cases are not favourable for the players as they have more than 50% chance of surpassing twenty one. The chances that when this pair is split the result will be any different aren’t too promising either, however splitting is the lesser of the two evils. The bottom line is that this move gives them the opportunity to avoid going bust with one more hit and to have at least one decent hand. Whenever players find themselves in a breaking position, what they should do is to split the losing hand into two, hopefully good, ones. Of course, not always splitting works in favour of the players, this is the reason why they need to get familiar with the possible outcomes of every hand.

8’s Basic Strategy Chart
Players’ Hand Dealer’s Up Card
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Ace
SP = Split

Alternative Move

As already mentioned, in some cases players can choose another move due to the fact that it can turn out to be beneficial for them as well. When the dealer’s up card is a ten or an ace, they can hit. The reason why is that in these particular situations, the odds of hitting and splitting are pretty much the same. Players have a better chance of not going bust when they split the pair, however it is worth mentioning that the possibility they will get a decent hand is low. Moreover, their bet needs to be twice as much which is very inconvenient considering the fact that the odds they will lose are very high. Many players choose to stick to the basic strategy and split due to the fact that it prevents them from going bust. In situations where the dealer’s up card is a ten or an ace, they should take into account the pros and cons of every move and decide which one will work best for them.

Player is dealt a pair of 8’s. Dealer’s Up card is a 10. According to Blackjack Basic Strategy Player should Split, but they could also Hit.


Even though the cases in which players can get a second pair of 8’s are rare, as previously indicated, they should be prepared for every hand. In such situations it is worth remembering that the same strategy applies every time they get a pair of cards of the same rank. If players happen to get another pair of 8’s, it is best to re-split them if allowed. Bear in mind that as the rules of the casinos differ, some places may have restrictions regarding this move. The fact that sometimes there are restrictions on re-splitting shows that this move can be very favourable for players as long as they know how and when to take advantage of it. It is crucial to get familiar with the casino rules for Blackjack prior to playing as this way they will avoid changing their strategy during the course of time. For instance, if players get a second pair of 8’s and they want to re-split it but this move is not allowed, the chances that they will misplay this hand are very high.

The Option To Surrender

Another very reasonable move players can make is to surrender, providing that this option is allowed. The reason why, is that having a total of eighteen is a breaking hand which will almost certainly cause them to go bust. It is a wise move to withdraw if players have a pair of 8’s as their hand’s total in most cases will lead to losing the hand. By surrendering they will at least be able to get half of their money back in such a disadvantageous situation. However, players should take into account that many casinos don’t allow this move due the benefits it offers them.


Sometimes it can be really difficult to determine which move is the best in a particular situation. Even professional gamblers struggle to say for sure and have second thoughts on some of them. However, this is why gambling is gambling and what makes Blackjack such an interesting and challenging game. The only way to win in the long term and manage to make a profit is if players strive to improve every time they play. With the appropriate knowledge of the basic rules, reliable strategy and money management skills they can gain advantage over the casino and reach the desired result. It is important to focus on winning the majority of the hands, not all of them and when there are tough situations, such as having a pair of 8’s, players should try and reduce the amount of their money loss to minimum rather than attempting to win the hand.