Should you split a pair of ‘tens’ in blackjack?

In blackjack, tens are obviously valued at 10 points, but so are court cards or, in other words, kings, queen and jacks. Depending on the rules of the game in question, a pair of ‘tens’ could mean, literally, a pair of tens, a pair of kings, queen or jacks or, in some cases, a ten and a court card or two dissimilar court cards.

In any event, where splitting is allowed, the player can stand, with a hand valued at 20 points, or split his cards into two hands, each with a starting value of 10 points. Some players split a pair of ‘tens’ regardless of the upcard the dealer shows, while others so only if the upcard is one of the weakest possible, such as a five or a six.

However, splitting not only not only doubles your outlay, but also significantly reduces your chances of winning. In a standard game of blackjack, in which cards are dealt from a six-deck shoe and the dealer stands on ‘soft’ 17, the probability of winning if you stand on 20 is 83%. By contrast, in the same game, if you split a pair of ‘tens’ – and thereby run the risk of winding up with two hands both worth less than 20 – the probability of winning each split had us just 63%. In simple terms, unless you are an accomplished card counter and the ‘true’ count is at least +4, the mathematically correct decision is always to stand on a pair of ‘tens’.