Minimizing long-term losses
Given that the odds are stacked against the player, the main goal of optimal strategy is to minimize your long-term losses. Let’s assume that you are sitting at a blackjack table with the following condition:
- Table using 4, 6 or 8 card decks
You receive 7 – 7, which gives you a hand value of 14. At the same time, the house gets the value 2. In such a scenario, the odds are not in your favour since you are statistically destined to lose 64 percent of all hands.
If you bet CAD$1 on each hand and you choose to play 100 hands, you will on average end up losing $28 after 100 rounds ($64 – $36).
Now let’s assume you decide to split your 14-value hand into two where each one has the value 7. The odds are still against you. However, the pair splitting decision shrinks the number of losing hands from 64 percent to 55 percent. That increases the proportion of winning hands from 36 to 45 percent.
Since you are pair splitting, your stake will increase from $1 to $2 per round. Assuming that you play 100 rounds, this scenario will produce earnings of $90 ($2 x 45 winning rounds) and a loss of $110 ($2 x 55 losing rounds).
By choosing pair splitting, your net result will be on average a $20 loss ($110 – $90). While this is still a loss, it will be $8 lower than if you had continued playing without pair splitting
Maximizing long-term profits
Choosing pair splitting can also help you maximize your long-term earnings in blackjack.
Let’s assume that all the previously mentioned conditions apply. However, in this case, you get a 9 – 9 hand and the dealer receives a 6. In other words, your 18-value hand is strong and will on average secure winnings for you in 64 percent of the cases by simply standing. If you play 100 rounds with these conditions and bet $1 for every hand, your average net earnings would amount to $28 ($64 winning hands – $36 losing hands).
Let’s instead assume that you decide to apply pair splitting. In such a scenario, your net earnings will grow to $40. That’s $12 higher than the $28 you would generate if you had not chosen to split.
So pair splitting reduced your earning chances to 60 percent from 64 percent for standing but maximized your long-term earnings.
Are you still not convinced? Let’s calculate it: With on average 60 winning hands and a double bet, you will secure earnings of $120 ($2 x 60 winning hands). At the same time, you will end up losing 40 hands, which with a double bet means a total loss of $80 ($2 x 40 losing hands). The net result will be a profit of $40 ($120 – $80). In other words, you gain $12 in the long term by pair splitting.
Winning even when the odds are against you
Experienced Canadian players know that you can sometimes when even when the odds are stacked against you. Let’s assume that the basic conditions are the same as in the previous examples. However, you will instead get a 7 – 7 hand in this scenario while the dealer gets a 6.
You will on average win 42 percent of the hands and lose 58 percent. If we once again play 100 rounds and you bet $1 per hand, you will on average lose $16 ($58 – $42).
Now let’s assume you decide to split pairs. Your 14 value hand becomes two hands, each one with the value 7. Since 7 is higher than the dealer’s 6, it will give you an edge over the house. Thanks to the pair splitting option, your proportion of winning hands will increase to 52 percent while the losing hands will shrink to 48 percent.
Since you split the hand, your bet will double to $2 for each round. Over 100 rounds, your profit will average $104 ($2 x 52 successful rounds). At the same time, your total loss will average $96 ($2 x 48 unsuccessful rounds).
That’s a theoretical long-term net profit of $8. In other words, you transform a $16 loss into an $8 profit.