When you are dealt a pair of 9s in blackjack you have two viable playing options:

  • Stand with a total of 18
  • Split the 9s into two hands, with each hand starting with a 9


The basic playing strategy for a pair of 9s is to:

  • Split when the dealer’s upcard is 2 through 6 or 8, 9
  • Stand when the dealer’s upcard is 7, 10, or Ace.

The above strategy should be used regardless of the number of decks of cards being used and the mix of playing rules.

The following color-coded chart summarizes the basic strategy for a pair of 9s.


Dealer's Upcard
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A


The only reason you would split a pair of 9s is if it:

  • Wins you more money than standing
  • Loses you less money than standing

When the live blackjack dealer shows a weak 2 through 6 upcard, you are better off splitting the 9s because you’ll win more money than standing on a total of 18. (The dealer has a relative high probability of busting, and by splitting, you have the opportunity to bet more money when the dealer’s chance of busting is greatest.)

When the dealer shows a 7 upcard, standing is the better play than splitting because it will win you more money. (The dealer has a good probability of having any one of four ten-value cards per deck as her down card, giving her a pat 17, which you would beat if you stood with 18.)

In the case of the dealer showing an 8 upcard, you’ll win money if you stand with 18 but you’ll win even more by splitting, making the latter the better play.

When the dealer shows a strong 9, 10-value, or Ace up card, your chances of winning with a pair of 9s is not very good. (Standing on 18 is a losing play but so is splitting; however, you’ll lose less money in the long run if you stand, making the latter the better play.)


If the playing rules allow you to resplit the 9s, it is advantageous for you to do so. For example, if you are dealt a pair of 9s against a dealer’s 6 upcard, you should split them. Suppose on the first 9, you are dealt another 9 on the draw. You should resplit to form a third hand. If the casino allows resplits up to a total of four hands, then you should resplit again if you are dealt another 9.

Resplitting 9s


You will always win more or lose less if you follow the above basic playing strategy for splitting or hitting a pair of 9s.

For a complete basic playing strategy for any set of playing rules, consult Chapter 3 in the Ultimate Blackjack Strategy Guide.

Henry Tamburin is one of world’s most respected blackjack experts and a world-class player. He is the author of the Ultimate Blackjack Strategy Guide, and Blackjack: Take The Money and Run. He edited the monthly Blackjack Insider Newsletter, and was a featured blackjack columnist for Casino Player magazine, Midwest Gaming and Travel magazine, Gaming South magazine, Southern Gaming magazine, New England Gaming News, Jackpot, Bingo Bugle, and Casino City Times.