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.

## More Blackjack School Articles:

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

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

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

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

## 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.

## 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.

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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