Most blackjack players who are just getting started have no trouble remembering the correct ways to play hard totals. Soft hands pose as a more significant challenge and so do pairs. In fact, pairs and soft totals are generally among the most frequently misplayed hands and the ones that cause the most problems to inexperienced players.
When correctly split, pairs can be very lucrative in the long term. Not only does pair splitting reduce the house edge of the game but it also makes blackjack all the more thrilling because the excitement increases in parallel with the action.
If you are looking to improve your play and are struggling with pairs consisting of 6s, we recommend you stay with us as we tackle the optimal ways to play this two-card holding in pitch and multiple-deck games of blackjack. Playing this hand correctly is guaranteed to help you boost your average profits and minimize your losses in the long run.
How to Play 6s in Pitch Games
Basic strategy players have a choice from two decisions only where pairs of 6s are concerned. Logically, this total is too low to stand on because the player risks getting outdrawn by the dealer. Surrendering and doubling down on hard 12 are automatically out of the question, so the only way to play this pair is either to split it or to hit it.
Your choice here is based on a couple of variables. First, you need to take into account the number of decks in play and then check whether or not the house permits players to double after they split a pair. It should be noted that many pitch blackjack games prohibit players from doubling down after splitting, in which case the optimal plays for this two-card holding are as follows:
- Split the pair of 6s if the dealer has upcards 2 through 6 in NDAS games
- Hit the pair of 6s when the dealer shows cards 7 through Ace in NDAS games
On occasion, players may come across landbased or online blackjack tables where the casino gives them the opportunity to double after a split, in which case the strategy changes a little bit for one specific play, that of paired 6s against a dealer with an exposed 7 which should be split instead of hit.
How to Play a Pair of 6s against Four, Six, and Eight Decks
The basic strategy moves for a pair of 6s in blackjack games where four, six or eight decks are in play is almost the same as that for single and double-deck tables. The optimal plays are again not affected by the fixed dealer rules which makes them easier to memorize. The only variable you need to take into consideration here is the DAS rule. At tables that allow DAS, basic strategy players are supposed to play this pair the following way:
- Split the 6s against upcards 2 through 6
- Hit the 6s against upcards 7 through Ace
In the absence of DAS, there is only one discrepancy in the correct plays for this pair. It concerns the optimal move for 6s against a dealer whose upcard is a deuce. Provided that the players are prohibited from doubling after they split, they should hit their 6s against a 2 because it saves them more money under these table conditions. Ironically, this is the card against which blackjack huffs tend to misplay their pairs of 6s the most.
Misplaying 6s against a Dealer with a Deuce
One of the most frequently committed mistakes by blackjack novices with a pair of 6s is against a dealer’s deuce in multiple-deck games. They fear the dealer is not weak enough to bust with a 2 to justify betting more money by splitting the 6s, which is why many people choose to hit this pair instead.
Others lean toward the other spectrum – they are too afraid they will bust by hitting so they decide to stand on their hard 12. We sincerely hope no blackjack player, regardless of their experience level, is silly enough to double in this situation but one never knows. The bottom line is all these moves are incorrect in this case.
Bear in mind that a pair of 6s against a dealer’s 2 always puts you in a losing situation, no matter which of the possible moves you pull. Hard 12 is a pretty feeble hand to start a round with, not to mention splitting so that you start two hands with a 6 does not improve your chances all that much, either.
This is a negative-expectation hand regardless of whether you misplay it or play it optimally every single time. And yet, splitting remains the best of all possible moves for the simple reason it causes you to suffer the smallest losses per dollar in the long run.
It may not sound like a lot but it still counts, because you end up saving money. The table below shows you the average expected losses you incur with a pair of 6s against a deuce in a six-deck S17 game with DAS, LS (late surrender), and no RSA (resplitting of Aces).
|Playing Decision for 6s vs. a 2||Average Expected Losses|
As you can see, no decision you can possibly make will turn this losing hand into a winner in the long run. However, splitting is optimal here because it helps you lose less money on average. From this, it follows that splitting 6s against a dealer’s deuce is nothing but an exercise in loss reduction.
Why Are These Strategy Moves Considered Optimal?
Readers probably already have a hunch on what is to follow. Splitting this pair assists players in achieving several goals. First of all, it helps you generate more profits on average over the long run, particularly when you play your 6s against a vulnerable dealer who is more likely to bust with upcards like 5 and 6.
In fact, splitting becomes a positive-expectation move with 6s against a dealer with these small cards as you can see from the table below. The playing conditions are the same as those from our previous example with the 6s against the deuce. In other words, you are playing a six-deck game with DAS, RSA, and LS where the dealer stands on soft 17.
|Playing Decision for 6s||Average Expected Returns against Upcards 5 and 6|
|Surrender||-$0.50 / -$0.50|
|Stand||-$0.16 / -$0.15|
|Hit||-$0.19 / -$0.17|
|Double Down||-$0.38 / -$0.35|
|Split||$0.11 / $0.16|
The second benefit of exercising this play consistently is that it reduces your negative expectation when you are up against dealers who are in a not-too-shabby position with higher-value upcards. An upcard like 7 causes a lot of headaches to single-deck and double-deck players who get dealt paired 6s because this play is not as intuitive. DAS is not always available in pitch blackjack but when it is, splitting the pair against the 7 becomes the better option profit-wise (or should we say loss-wise).
The idea here is that if you are allowed to double after you split the 6s and pull a 4 or a 5 on one or two of the 6s, this significantly improves your situation. It gives you the chance to make a potentially successful double down on totals 10 or 11. Here are the average long-term losses you can expect from this play in a double-deck game with S17, DAS, and LS:
|Playing Decisions for 6s||Average Expected Losses against Upcard 7|
It makes sense splitting is the best decision under these conditions because it turns your 6s into a slightly less negative-expectation hand.
And finally, the third benefit of splitting this pair against dealers with smaller-value cards is that sometimes it helps you improve a bad hand and turn it into a better one which stands better chances of earning you a profit. In blackjack, it is much better to begin a playing round with two totals of 6 than with one hard total of 12.