When you are dealt a pair of 6s in the game of blackjack you have two viable playing options:
Which blackjack strategy you should invoke depends upon what the dealer’s upcard is, the number of decks of cards being used, and whether double down after pair splitting is allowed.
The basic playing strategy for a single- and double-deck game where doubling down after pair splitting is not allowed (NDAS) is to
- Split 6s against a dealer’s upcard of 2 through 6; otherwise hit
If the blackjack rules allow doubling down after pair splitting (DAS)
- You should also split against a dealer’s upcard of 7 (Illustrate splitting against 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.)
In a multi-deck game, the basic playing strategy is
- If NDAS, split against a dealer’s upcard of 3 through 6; otherwise hit
- If DAS, split against dealer’s upcard of 2 through 6; otherwise hit
The following color-coded charts summarize the basic strategy for a pair of 6s (Note: P = Split; H = Hit.)
Single-Deck with NDAS
Single-Deck with DAS
Double-Deck with NDAS
Double-Deck with DAS
Multi-Deck with NDAS
Multi-Deck with DAS
REASON FOR SPLITTING
- You will win more money on average
- You will lose less money on average
- You will turn a losing hand into a winning hand on average
In a multi-deck game with NDAS, hitting 6s against a dealer’s 2 is a non-intuitive play. This is another example where invoking either strategy (hitting or splitting) results in a negative expectation of winning; however, when you hit, you will lose slightly less money than splitting in the long run, making it the better play.
Another non-intuitive play is to split 6s against a dealer’s 7 upcard in single- and double-deck games with DAS. With the favorable option of DAS, when you split 6s and draw, say, a 5 to one or both 6s, you have a favorable total of 11 to double. With DAS, pair splitting has a less negative expectation than hitting against a dealer’s 7 upcard, making it the better play.
You may find the following two rules an easy way to remember how to play your 6s:
- In a single- and double-deck game with DAS, split 6s against dealer’s 2‒7; otherwise hit. If NDAS, split against 2‒6.
- In a multi-deck game with DAS, split 6s against dealer upcard of 2‒6; otherwise hit; if NDAS, split against 3‒6.
For a complete basic playing strategy for any set of playing rules, consult Chapter 3 in the Ultimate Blackjack Strategy Guide.