Splitting a Pair of 9’s

Blackjack is a game that requires a lot of preparation and dedication, but in the long term it pays off well. This is the reason why so many players play the game on a regular basis, hoping they will get lucky and win. However, in order to achieve the desired result, they need to have so much more than just luck.

Knowledge, appropriate strategy, money management skills are just a few of the things that are compulsory for players whose first priority is to be winners. In order to manage to make the best moves every time, they should get familiar with all of the possible outcomes a particular hand can have.

It is also crucial to know the motive behind every move as this will allow them to remember them easily. There are so many card combinations that players can get and if they can’t make any sense of the strategy they follow, it will be extremely hard to memorise everything.

Players are bound to get a pair of cards of the same rank, especially if the game is played with multiple decks. Therefore, it is essential for them to be aware how to proceed in such cases. In this chapter, we will have a look at situations where they are dealt with a pair of 9’s as their first two cards. Having such a pair is as tricky as having a pair of 8’s as both hands put players in a breaking position.

In this chapter, we will have a look at the situations where players are dealt a pair of 9s as their first two cards. Having such a pair is as tricky as having a pair of 8s as both hands put players in a breaking position. Nevertheless, a hard total of 18 with paired 9s is still better than holding a hard 16 with a pair of 8s.

When Players Should Split a Pair of 9s

Whenever players have a pair of 9s, there are occasions when it is best to split because having a total of 18 will easily surpass 21 with a one-card draw. Also, we would like to remind you that holding an 18 is insufficient against solid dealer cards like 10s or aces. This is because the average winning total in the game of 21 is not 18 but 18.5.

What’s great about having 9s is that the correct plays for this pair are quite easy to commit to memory, the reason being they match across all conventional blackjack games, no matter what set of rules and deck number the games implement.

This does away with the necessity for strategy modifications when transitioning from one blackjack table to the next. With that in mind, you have a choice from two viable decisions only, which further simplifies things for you if you are a blackjack rookie. You should either split or stand on your 9s.

Splitting your 9s is a good move versus weaker dealer upcards such as 2 through 6 and 8. The split of this pair enables players to start two brand new hands with a solid total of 9 each when the dealer is in a bad position. In turn, this translates into higher gains in the long term because the dealer’s probability of busting with such upcards is greater.

This calls for a more aggressive play through splitting, which enables you to wager more money versus the weaker dealer. A split of the 9s is also recommended whenever the dealer starts with a bit stronger upcards like 8. It is important to point out that both splitting and standing against the 8 ensure positive expected returns for the player over the long haul.

However, splitting is considered the better play for the simple reason it yields greater long-term profits compared to standing on hard 18. As for the dealer starting with more solid upcards such as the 9 both splitting and standing offer negative expectation. You will lose in the long run either way, but a split of the 9s is preferable because it causes you to lose less.

Another reason why splitting is the best move here is that by doing so, players put themselves in a very favourable position. This way they will compete against the weak upcard of the dealer with two decent hands as their total will be at least 9. Moreover, drawing one more card to each hand will always leave them with a total which is higher than the dealer’s upcard.

Players have the chance to get more money when the dealer’s in a weak position and these are the cases which deserve special attention as they are extremely beneficial to them.

Player is dealt a pair of 9s. Dealer’s Up card is a 2. Player should Split.

When Players Should Avoid Splitting a Pair of 9s

As already mentioned, there are some cases where it will be best for players to avoid splitting. They should choose to stand instead, in situations when the dealer’s upcard is a 10, an ace, or a 7. Splitting against a 7 as an upcard of the dealer is rather risky. Players should refrain from choosing this move as the odds are not in their favour.

In fact, 9s versus 7 is considered one of the trickiest hands in blackjack and as such, it is frequently misplayed by novices. A total of hard 18 holds well against the dealer’s 7 and so does starting two hands with a 9 each. However, standing is the recommended move because it earns you more money in the long run compared to splitting.

This is because the dealer stands a good chance of having a ten in the hole and is more likely to stand pat with 17 when starting with a 7. Thus, the player has a decent probability to beat the dealer by standing on their 18.

In other words, the possible outcomes of this situation, if players decide to stand, will always place them in a good position. In the worst-case scenario, they will have a tie with the dealer and the chances that they can win the hand are also high enough. It doesn’t matter what the hole card of the dealer will be as they do not stand a good chance of beating the players’ total.

As usual, players should take advantage of the option to resplit, if available, provided they catch one or more 9s following the initial split of the pair. For instance, you receive 9s versus a 5, split, and get another 9 on the first hand. You should resplit the second pair of 9s to make a third hand. Resplit as many times as you are allowed to, which is usually no more than four times in most casinos.

Player is dealt a pair of 9s. Dealer’s Up card is a 10. Player should Stand.

Important Considerations

Whatever strategy players choose to follow, they need to bear in mind that their choices should be always based on the dealer’s upcard. The move that must be avoided whenever players have a pair of 9s, regardless of the upcard of the dealer, is to hit. It is not a good occasion to experiment as this pair leaves them with a total of 18 and surpassing 21 is almost certain.

If players decide to hit, the odds that they will go bust are 77%. Even though there are cards that can lead to an instant win, it is best not to risk it in this case. All that players need to do is to stick to the basic strategy and make their decisions according to it. This move shouldn’t even cross players’ minds as a possible option in the first place. Hitting such a high total value in the hand will most likely result in a loss.

9-9 Basic Strategy for Blackjack
Player’s HandDealer’s Upcard
P = Split; S = Stand


Splitting a pair of 9s is a very good move, but not in every situation. As already indicated, there are some cases in which it’s best to stand against the dealer’s upcard. Players should choose a reliable strategy that they support and apply it throughout the game. It is really important to make sense of basic strategy since this way, they will be able to remember it better.

In order to make it work, players should apply it consistently and make sure they understand its patterns. At some point during the game, players will inevitably get two cards of the same rank. Therefore, it is of crucial importance to know how to proceed in such situations. The first thing that comes to mind to most people when they get a pair is to split it.

In some cases, this move works quite well, whereas, in others, it leads to losing both hands. Lacking the needed knowledge can cost them dear as players can turn one winning hand into two losing ones. To reduce their potential money losses to the minimum, it is best to get familiar with the alternative moves for every hand.