Can the Dealer Split His Hand in Blackjack?

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A blackjack dealer holding a deck of playing cards.
BetMGM Sep 25, 2023, 11:01 PM

In the fast-paced world of online casinos, blackjack is a game that stands out for its blend of chance and strategy. One key strategic decision a player can make is to divide, or “split,” their hand. To those unfamiliar with the game, the concept of”’splitting” may seem foreign. But it’s a move that can drastically alter the flow and outcome of the game.

The question then arises — can the dealer split in blackjack, just as a player can? And how would that affect your gaming strategy? Take a look at the mechanics and rules of blackjack and uncover the answer to this intriguing question.

Blackjack Fundamentals

Before addressing whether a dealer can split their hand, it’s essential to grasp some fundamental principles of blackjack.

The Rules of Blackjack and Its Variations

Blackjack is essentially a card game where players compete against the dealer. The primary objective is to have a hand value closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand without going over. If a player’s hand exceeds 21, it’s called a “bust,” and the player automatically loses.

The dealer must hit (take another card) on any hand of 16 or lower and must stand (refuse additional cards) on any hand of 17 or higher. This offers players some insight into the dealer’s potential moves and allows them to adjust their strategy accordingly.

But these rules can vary based on the type of blackjack being played. For instance, in a game like “Blackjack Switch,” players start with two hands and have the option to switch the top two cards between them, potentially creating stronger hands. The dealer, on the other hand, follows the same rule as traditional blackjack, but with a slight twist — they hit on a soft 17 (a hand containing an ace, which can be either 1 or 11.)

Basic Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack strategies are game plans designed to increase your chances of success by using mathematical probabilities, giving players guidance on the best actions to take based on your cards and the dealer’s face-up card. This could include actions like hitting, standing, doubling down, or splitting.

For example, a common strategy advises that if your hand is 11 or less, you should always hit to avoid busting. On the other hand, if the dealer’s face-up card is 7 or higher, and your hand totals between 12 and 16, hitting is recommended to minimize the risk of the dealer having a stronger hand.

Different strategies exist for different variations of blackjack, so knowing the specific rules of the game you’re playing is key to successful strategy execution.

Understanding Blackjack Split Rules

In blackjack, the option to split arises when a player is dealt two cards of the same value. When you choose to split, you divide the pair into two separate hands, giving you the opportunity to play each hand independently. It’s important to note that splitting requires placing a new bet equal to the original, which effectively doubles your stake.

By making this move, you can potentially double your winnings if done wisely. But it’s important to note that there are risks involved. Betting on two hands improves your chances of success, but it also exposes you to the possibility of losing on both hands.

Knowing when to split in blackjack is crucial for strategic gameplay. Factors such as the dealer’s face-up card, your own two cards, and whether or not you’re playing with a single deck or multiple decks can all influence the decision to split.

Blackjack Dealer Rules

In traditional blackjack, the dealer has no option but to split his or her hand. This is because the dealer must always abide by the house rules, which dictate that they must hit on 16 and stand on 17. The dealer can’t deviate from these rules, even if splitting their hand could get a better result.

But this rule may vary depending on where you’re playing live dealer blackjack, as some casinos give players more flexibility in the game. For instance, some casinos may allow a dealer to split their hand if they are dealt two cards of the same value. The rules will usually state that the dealer must hit on soft 17 regardless of whether or not they choose to split their hand.

Strategies to Consider if the Dealer Splits

This rule can significantly affect players’ strategies when playing against a live dealer in blackjack, as it gives them more options to win.

For instance, if a player is dealt two cards of the same value and the dealer can split their hand, it would be wise for the player to stand instead of hitting in order to reduce the house edge.

If the dealer’s split hands are not particularly strong and you hold a hand totaling 9, 10, or 11, you could consider doubling your bet. This is a calculated risk with the potential for high reward.

In the vast majority of online casinos and traditional gambling houses, the dealer splitting their hand is an extremely rare occurrence. This is due to the rigorous adherence to the standard rules of blackjack that these establishments maintain to ensure a consistent gaming experience. This rule is part of what gives the house its edge and makes blackjack a challenging and engaging game.

So, next time you‘re formulating your live dealer blackjack strategy, bear in mind that you’re unlikely to encounter a scenario where the dealer splits their hand.

Play Blackjack with BetMGM

Whether you’re in an online casino tournament or playing live blackjack, understanding the game’s rules is crucial for winning. Just as knowing when the dealer can split their hand affects your strategy, familiarizing yourself with blackjack terms like “swiping the table” can help you better navigate the game’s dynamics. It’s these intricacies that distinguish novices from seasoned blackjack players.

Looking to play online blackjack with a live dealer? BetMGM offers a seamless, authentic blackjack experience right at your fingertips. With sophisticated technology, engaging live dealers, and adherence to traditional blackjack rules, with BetMGM, you can enjoy every bit of the game from the comfort of your home.

Ready to take a seat at the virtual blackjack table? Register today to bring the casino to your screen.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.