Splitting Pairs of 4s

In the vast majority of blackjack variations, when players receive a starting total that consists of two cards of equal rank, they have the option to split the pair into two separate hands. The dealer then draws one extra card to each of the new hands and play continues as normal.

Provided that the player gets dealt another pair after the split, they can resplit it, with many casinos allowing resplitting to up to four separate hands. This peculiarity of the game gives players the opportunity to generate twice as much profit during a round when the dealer is in a particularly bad position with small upcards.

Making the correct splitting decisions is of vital importance for all serious blackjack players. Most people who play the game casually know they should always split Aces and 8s. They also know 5s and 10s should never be split.

These plays are easy to remember because they are rather intuitive. However, the correct decisions for less intuitive pairs like a pair of 4s, for example, are more difficult to memorize because they vary depending on game conditions and deck number.

This often translates into confusion which, in turn, leads to bad plays and long-term losses. In this article, we shall attempt to dispel the perplexity by explaining the optimal playing decisions for a pair of 4s and how they change under different table conditions.

Correct Playing Decisions for a Pair of 4s in Single-Deck Blackjack

Correct Playing DecisionsDo you have a basic strategy chart? If so, take a quick look at it and check what it tells you to do with a pair of 4s. It might recommend you to always take a hit on this pair or it might suggest you split the 4s and even double down against certain dealer upcards instead of splitting. Neither piece of advice is incorrect.

It all depends on whether you are looking at a single-deck or a multiple-deck strategy chart. If you are recommended to split this pair against weak dealer upcards 4, 5 and 6 and double on totals of 8 against 5 or 6, you are almost certainly looking at a basic strategy chart intended for use at the single-deck tables. As soon as you add more decks to the game, doubling on a total of 8 turns into a bad idea unless you have mastered card counting and are able to recognize the rare instances where this is a good move.

The optimal decisions here are influenced by yet another factor, the presence or absence of the DAS rule (doubling after a split). The main idea here is that if the casino allows players to double following a split, it is more beneficial for them to split the 4s when the dealer is in a bad spot with a 4, a 5 or a 6.

If the player succeeds in pulling cards like 5, 6, 7, or Ace next to their 4, doubling becomes the correct play. It enables you to pour more money onto the table when you hold the advantage. Keep in mind that when players split the pair under these conditions, they end up doubling on at least one of their 4s over 50% of the time, meaning there is a good chance for you to catch a card that justifies the increase in your action.

How to Play a Pair of 4s in Double-Deck and Multiple-Deck Games

How to Play a Pair of 4sGone are the days when players were able to find single-deck blackjack games with rules that are decent enough to justify taking a seat at the table. The blackjack games of the 21st century have evolved and commonly utilize multiple decks, usually four, six or eight. This increases the casinos’ advantage but the bigger edge they hold is offset by the more favorable rules at the tables.

There are, of course, double-deck variations still, but similarly to single-deck blackjack, these are crippled by poor table conditions. If you do happen to come across a double-deck game with good enough rules, you can use the same basic strategy plays for paired 4s as those intended for multiple-deck games.

The correct decisions coincide and are not influenced by the dealer’s standing and drawing rules. The only variable that affects your decisions for this pair is again DAS. Assuming DAS is an option in the multiple-deck games you play (and it usually is), you are supposed to abide by the following basic strategy rules when you are dealt a pair of 4s:

  • Hit the paired 4s if the dealer shows cards 2 through 4 and 7 through Ace
  • Split the pair of 4s but only if the dealer has weaker starting cards 5 and 6