The second option to increase your original wager in Blackjack is known as “splitting”. When you receive two cards of the same value, you are allowed to match your original bet, and split the two cards into separate hands. You are not required to split; you can play the hand like any other hand, but in some situations, it is advantageous to make two hands out of a pair. It is entirely up to you.
Each card of the pair becomes the first card of a separate, totally independent, hand, and each bet – the original stake and the second stake – applies only to the hand to which it is attached. The dealer gives one additional card on the first hand, and then takes instructions on additional hits. When that hand is completed, the second hand proceeds in the same manner.
Since the two hands are independent, you may win both, lose both or win one and lose one. To split a hand, place an identical bet next to your original bet. The wager must be the exact amount; it cannot be any more or any less.
Depending upon the rules of the individual casino, you may be able to split hands up to four times. For example, if you have two Eights, split them, and receive a third Eight, you may split that hand to make three independent hands. The rules concerning how many times you may split vary from casino to casino.
The only card that has different splitting rules is the Ace. When you receive two Aces and split them, you only receive one card on each Ace. If that card is a ten-value card, it is simply a count of 21, not a blackjack, which must appear in the first two original cards.
In many casinos, you may also double down after splitting. The same rules apply for doubling down on a split hand as would for an original hand.
In most casinos today, if the dealers have an Ace or a Ten-value card up, they play the hand through, and if they have blackjack, all double down, and split bets are returned to the players who only lose their original bets. Since this wastes time and causes some player discontent, some casinos allow dealers to peek at their hole card to determine whether they have a blackjack. If they have blackjack, they immediately turn it over and take all losing bets, which saves time and aggravation.
Occasionally, you can find a dealer who “gives away” the value of his hole card (when he doesn’t have a hole card that completes a blackjack). This is called a “dealer tell”. You have to understand body language or psychology, but this has been one of the most consistent winning blackjack secrets down through the years.
Recently, technology has been employed to speed up the game. Several companies have marketed laser devices that will read the value of a card by slipping the edge of the card through a narrow opening. It tells the dealer whether that card is a Ten or an Ace, but not the specific value of the card. This allows him to complete the game without the knowledge of the value of the hole card, once again saving time, but also preventing dealer tells.