Many novice blackjack players do not always know what to do when they are dealt a pair. Should they play it as a hard hand or split it?
While a basic strategy chart can easily tell a player which way to play a pair, sometimes it helps to understand why a particular play should be made.
There are some pairs that you do not split. In those cases it is more advantageous to play them as a hard hand. A pair of 5’s is such a pair.
The reason that you do not want to split this pair is that its total as a hard hand is 10. And hard 10’s are advantageous to double down on. They are also half of 21. And while you cannot receive a 3-2 payout for a three card 21, it will still beat everything the dealer has unless he has a natural blackjack.
But the main reason not to split a pair of 5’s is because of its double down potential.
In a $10 game in which you split a pair of fives you have $20 on the line on two separate hands. If you win both hands you would be paid $40. But if you only won one hand you would be paid $20 on that hand and lose the other $10, breaking even in effect.
And it would be difficult to hit a 5 and build another good hand, let alone two good hands.
But if you were to keep the pair together and doubled down, yes, you would still have $20 on the line, but if you won you would be paid $40 without the worry of breaking even that is found in pair splitting.
This is why it is more advantageous to keep the two 5’s together and double down on them. You have a greater potential to win a larger amount. And that is the point of strategy, to find the best way to win the most and hang on to the money you already have.