Do You Always Split Aces & 8s in Blackjack?

This is a question I get from casual friends on a regular basis – hey, do you really always split Aces and 8s – it’s usually a beginner who knows I play a decent amount and has nothing better to say so they are just trying to make blackjack conversation.  In most cases I’ll give a simple reply just to keep the conversation light, but in reality it is something that I spend a lot of time considering and I know that my in-depth answer would cause the average person to glaze over and avoid me at all future parties.

Here is a more comprehensive reply beyond – yes that’s what the book says.

Splitting 8s in blackjack – I play 8s as an auto-split with two exceptions.  Exception 1 – surrender available – if surrender is available I will surrender 8s against an Ace and depending on the table momentum and wager size I also consider surrender versus a 10 an acceptable play. Exception 2 – no surrender available – if surrender isn’t an option I’ll often take a hit instead of a split against an Ace.  Outside of these exceptions I will split 8s with the knowledge that against a 9 or 10 I’m likely in a tough situation and there is a decent chance that I’ll end up with a second split or a double post split which will either add to my pain or generate an unexpected upside.

Splitting Aces in blackjack – I play Aces as an auto-split in virtually all situations.  There really isn’t a straight card situation that would keep me from splitting Aces.  The only reason I wouldn’t split Aces has more about momentum and wager size than the cards on the felt.  If I’ve got a maximum wager placed or the trends have been going one way or another at the time of my Aces and the dealer has a 10 or Ace showing there is a slight chance that I’ll play the Aces as a 2-12.  This is very rare and unless you are paying very close attention to your bet sizing, your daily win totals and the shoe trends it probably won’t come into play for the casual player.

Like every other blackjack strategy knowing your options and tolerance for risk going into the session will give you the best chance for playing these situations successfully.  Sometimes you have to sacrifice the hand you are playing for the momentum and cadence of the shoe as a whole.  Also, there are occasions when you need to change the momentum of your cards and fortunes by making a play that either has higher risk or is seemingly conservative.  Only when you know your personal blackjack strategy can you make these plays with confidence and a lack of regret on a regular basis.

Blackjack Card Counting

So Ben Affleck was reportedly kicked off the blackjack tables at Hard Rock in Vegas for counting cards.  I’m very intrigued by card counting and how you become an advantaged blackjack player.  An advantaged player is someone who the casinos consider to be using card counting or other blackjack strategy that changes the odds into the player’s favor to place higher bets when counts are in their favor and minimum bets when the odds are against them.

I don’t count cards and it isn’t something that I’m planning to take up.  I feel pretty good about my Momentum Blackjack ™ system and the ability to win by controlling the play using solid strategy versus card counting.  I’m not totally against card counting since casinos have the upper-hand in almost every situation and I’m honestly impressed by the people who can maintain focus and keep count during live play.  I will say that if you know casinos have rules against something then you employ that tactic you should expect them to come down pretty hard – especially if you are a famous person who will be drawing extra attention just by walking in the door.

From what I understand Affleck was not particularly subtle when placing wide swings in bet amounts which made him a fairly easy target for the casinos.  I get why he would  place such large bet amounts on hands that had a better chance to win, it’s human nature to try and grab any edge and for someone with more resources than I could imagine you would need to place and win extremely large bets in order to get the rush we all feel when we win.

For me a couple hundred dollars per hand is a big deal and I get nervous, excited and geeked up when I’m near the upper limit of my betting range.  For someone who can afford to lose hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in a session I’d imagine you’d need to bet big in order to get that same rush.  I’d also imagine that if you have plenty of time and are betting such large amounts it would be hard to swallow losing when you are aware of a way to put the winning odds in your favor.

One day maybe I’ll have the time to learn to count cards and the resources to make that card counting worth the risk.  Until then I’ll continue to employ Momentum Blackjack ™ and see how far it can take me.