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.