When you are playing blackjack and dealt a pair of 2s (also known as “deuces”), you have two viable playing options:

  • Split
  • Hit


Which 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.
 

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The basic playing strategy for a double- or multi-deck game where doubling down after pair splitting is not allowed (NDAS) is to:

  • split 2s against a dealer’s 4, 5, 6 or 7; otherwise hit

How to play a pair of 2s - playing options

  • If the playing rules allow doubling down after pair splitting (DAS), you should also split against a dealer’s upcard of 2 and 3.

When to split a pair of 2s in blackjack

In a single-deck game, the basic playing strategy is:

  • If NDAS, Split against a dealer's upcard of 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7; otherwise hit
  • If DAS, split against dealer’s upcard of 2 through 7; otherwise hit

Splitting situations with a pair of 2s
 

Pair of 2s basic strategy
The following color-coded charts summarize the basic strategy for a pair of 2s.
(Note: P = Split; H = Hit.)

 
Action table of how to play a pair of 2s in blackjack

REASON FOR SPLITTING

Splitting 2s becomes the better option than hitting if it meets one of these criteria:

  • 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

Here is an example. Suppose you are playing a six-deck game with DAS and you are dealt a pair of 2s. The dealer’s upcard is a 4. If you hit, you have a negative expectation of winning. However, if you split, you expectation of winning is positive. Pair splitting is, therefore, the preferred option over hitting because it turns a negative expectation into a positive expectation (criterion #3 above).

Here’s another example. Suppose you are playing a double-deck game with NDAS. You are dealt a pair of 2s and the dealer is showing a 2 upcard. Whether you split or hit, your expectation is negative; however, hitting has a lower negative expectation than splitting, meaning you will lose less money in the long run if you hit (criterion #2).

The reason you split 2s against a dealer’s 2 and 3 upcard when DAS is allowed (double- and multi-deck game) is because the latter is a player-favorable rule that allows you to double your bet if you were to receive a favorable draw card on one or both of your split hands (such as a 9 plus 2 equals 11). To take full advantage of DAS, you split 2s not only against the dealer’s 4, 5, 6, or 7 but also against the dealer’s 2 and 3 upcards.

RESPLITTING 2S

If the playing rules allow you to resplit, then it is advantageous for you to do so. For example, if you are dealt a pair of 2s against a dealer’s 5 upcard, you should split them. Suppose on the first 2, you are dealt another 2 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 2. Resplitting pairs is a player- favorable option that you should always take advantage of.

How to resplitting 2s in blackjack

BOTTOM LINE

You will always win more or lose less if you follow the above basic playing strategy for splitting or hitting a pair of 2s.

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

 

About the Author
By

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.

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