Aces and Eights Blackjack

by Frank Scoblete

This lesson is about Aces and Eights and strategic Blackjack.
There is one and only one way to play certain hands in the game of blackjack for the basic strategy player.  Quick refresher: Basic strategy is the computer-derived rules for the playing of every player hand against every possible dealer upcard.

In this lesson, several example hands and strategies about how to play aces and eights blackjack together or as pairs of 8s or aces are detailed.
For example, take a hand of 16. No matter how you slice it, a hand of 16 is a rotten hand. Hit it and you will bust over 60 percent of the time; stand and the dealer will have to bust. You will be a big loser when you stand as well, around 70 percent of the time.
But a 16 composed of two 8s is an entirely different matter. In fact, very few players even think of two 8s as a 16; they merely think of it as an opportunity to split. It is an absolute truism in blackjack that every time you see those two 8s, you split them. Yes, you split them against aces and 10s and deuces and 3s. You split them against whatever that dealer shows. That is a clear, concise, precise and ironclad rule! No exceptions. No debates.

Aces and Eights blackjack: eight pairs strategy
Does this mean that a pair of 8s is a winning hand? Against some dealer upcards it is -- specifically 2 through 7, assuming you can double after splits. You will win more money by splitting than you will by standing or hitting.
But a pair of 8s is a losing hand against 8 through ace. So why do you split? Because you actually lose less money by splitting than you do by standing or hitting. A starting hand of 8 is a stronger starting hand than 16. When you split, you give yourself a starting blackjack hand of 8. Again, a starting hand of 8 against 8s through aces is a loser but it loses less.

Aces and Eights blackjack: aces pairs strategy
It is also true that you always split aces against every dealer upcard and for essentially the same reasons. You will win more or lose less when you do so.
A 2 or 12 composed of two aces is not a very strong hand to hit. But a single ace is a very powerful card. It can be paired with a ten approximately 32 percent of the time for a 21 depending on the dealer upcard and number of decks in play. It can be paired with a 9 approximately eight percent of time for a total of 20 and it can be paired with an 8 approximately eight percent of the time for a total of 19. That means approximately 48 percent of the time; you have a strong possibility of a winning hand, as the average winning hand in blackjack is approximately an 18.8. Splitting a pair of aces is a winning move in most cases.

Of course, even though the rule for aces and eights blackjack is ironclad, the results in the short term can be disheartening. Split your 8s against a dealer upcard of ten and get a ten on each half of the split. If the dealer flips over a 20, you have just lost two bets instead of one. Ugh! Some players, realizing that possibility, hesitate to split those 8s against a ten. Simple blackjack logic comes to your aid as those two tens land, bing! bong! on our split 8s. If the dealer has a ten up, and you have two tens, the likelihood of another ten in the hole is much less than it would be had you received any other cards on the split.
It is no different with those two aces. Split and get a two on one ace and a three on the other ace. Then look across the table at that big, fat dealer ten. You have four non-tens sitting right in front of you. It’s an air-gulping moment for sure as the dealer flipped over his hole card to reveal another big, fat 10--or even a 7, 8, or 9.
Okay, the rule is ironclad. Split aces and eights, period. But the destiny of the hand after the split is not engraved in stone. You win some; you lose some. However, in the long run--that glorious long run--you will win more money or lose less money, guaranteed! if you follow the rule.
That’s a fact. There’s no two sides to the story of splitting aces and eights.

Aces and eights is followed by Split Blackjack Strategies and Never Tips
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