Most blackjack players know you should always split aces and eights.
But should you split sevens in blackjack?
Yes, but you should only split sevens in blackjack when the dealer’s face-up card is seven or lower. Otherwise, you should hit.
The rest of this post explains why.
You split aces because two or 12 aren’t good totals. And starting two hands with an ace gives you a good chance to have two winning hands.
A pair of eights make a total of 16, which is the worst starting total. And starting a hand with eight is much better than 16.
But what about splitting a pair of sevens?
A starting total of 14 isn’t great. And it turns out sometimes you should split sevens and sometimes you shouldn’t split sevens. Find out when and why in this post.
Blackjack Math Related to a Pair of 7s
Whether you like it or not, almost everything that happens while playing blackjack has something to do with math. And you need to have a basic understanding of blackjack math to answer questions like should you split sevens in blackjack?
Fortunately, blackjack math is fairly simple. The starting point is understanding what cards you can get when you split or draw. And this is easy to do.
Here’s an example:
You know the cards in the deck and their value. Each deck has 13 possible cards. The suits don’t matter in this situation. The only thing that matters is the point total of each card.
Shuffle a deck and deal two cards for a blackjack hand. Now, consider the 13 possible cards you can get if you hit.
If you start with a jack and an eight, you have 18. How many of the 13 card ranks help this hand? Only three out of 13 cards help. The other 10 cards bust your hand. Now you see why standing on 18 is always better than hitting.
If you start with 11 or fewer points, you know that none of the 13 cards make you bust. So you always either hit or double down depending on your total and the dealer card.
Run through this exercise with every possible starting hand total. Once you understand the ratio of good and bad cards you can get, it helps you understand what the best play is in most situations.
Blackjack Strategy and Splitting Pairs
Blackjack strategy is using blackjack math to determine the play that has the highest return on average. I know this might be a little confusing.
But don’t give up on this idea. I’m going to explain it, and then I’m going to show you how to use the right strategy every time without your brain exploding from overwork.
Because this page is about splitting 7s, most of what I’m talking about here involves pairs. But blackjack strategy is basically the same whether you’re dealing with a pair or not.
The choices with pairs are the same as other hands with the added option of splitting. The best option with a pair is always the option that produces the most long-term profit.
If splitting gives you the most average long-term profit or the least long-term loss, you split. If it doesn’t, you don’t split.
Here’s an example:
If you have a pair of fives, the most profitable play is either hit or double down. Starting with a total of 10 is more profitable than starting with a total of five.
The way you determine the most profitable play is by using the information from the last section. Run every possible card you can get for each option you have. Then combine the information with the card the dealer has and the cards they can get.
How to Always Make the Right Blackjack Strategy Play
I know this sounds like a lot of work because it is a lot of work. Fortunately, someone else has already done the work for you.
Here’s how to make sure you always use the right blackjack strategy. Get a blackjack strategy chart.
A blackjack strategy chart has the most profitable play listed for every hand. You find your hand and the card the dealer shows and the most profitable play is listed where they cross.
With a blackjack strategy chart, you never have to guess about the best play or run the math to determine the best play.
Computer programs run every possible outcome of every blackjack situation. And the result is a blackjack strategy chart.
How to Play a Pair of 7s in Blackjack (And Why)
When you start with a pair of 7s, you have 3 choices:
- You can stand
- You can hit
- You can split
You can technically double down with a pair of sevens in many places, but it’s such a bad play that I don’t include it as a realistic option.
If you stand with two 7s, the only way to win is if the dealer busts. The best strategy with a pair of sevens is never standing. And the reason standing is never the correct play is because on average you lose more money standing on 14 than your other options.
When you hit, the cards you can get are ace through king. Of these 13 cards, ace through seven improves your hand. And eight through king bust your hand. In addition, four through seven make your hand much better.
If you split the 7s, consider what happens with each hand.
You start with seven and receive an additional card. If you receive an ace, two, three, or four, you have a good total to take another card. If you receive a 10, jack, queen, or king, you have a total of 17.
So, the main problems with a seven come when you get a five through nine. With only five bad cards and eight good cards, splitting sevens looks like a good option.
And it turns out that sometimes splitting 7s is the best play. But it’s not the best play every time.
When You Should Split 7s in Blackjack?
You should split a pair of 7s when the dealer has a two through seven. After splitting a pair of sevens, you receive an additional card on each seven.
Once you receive your additional cards, you have two new hands. And the strategy on each hand depends on the current total and the dealer card, just like every other blackjack hand you play.
The basic strategy on most hands with a total of 17 or higher is to stand. And when the dealer has a six or lower showing, the correct strategy is standing on any hand 13 or above.
So, this makes sense when you see the strategy for a pair of sevens is splitting if the dealer shows a six or lower. You have a good chance to win with both hands when the dealer has a weak card.
The dealer showing a seven is a close call. But the long-term profit shows splitting is slightly more profitable than hitting with a pair of sevens and the dealer showing a seven.
When Should You NOT Split 7’s
You shouldn’t split a pair of sevens when the dealer shows an eight through ace. Instead of splitting, you should hit every time you have a pair of sevens and the dealer has an eight or higher.
Here’s why you shouldn’t split a pair of sevens when the dealer shows eight or higher:
The best card you can hope t receive on a seven is an ace. But you only have a one out of 13 chance of receiving an ace. The next best card is worth 10 points, and you have a four out of 13 chance to receive a card worth 10 points.
Now, consider what the dealer might have as a down card. With any of the face cards or 10, any card seven or higher probably beats your hand. And a seven through nine makes a good hand. Furthermore, remember if you bust before the dealer plays, you lose the hand no matter what the dealer ends up with.
What if the dealer has an eight? In this case, any card worth 10 gives them 18, an ace gives them 19, and a two or three gives them a good chance to finish with 17 to 21 by drawing another card.
It’s almost as bad when the dealer has a nine. The only card that doesn’t help a nine that helps an eight is a three. And a three is only a one out of 13 chance.
When you split, you also put twice as much money in play. And you don’t want to bet more when the dealer is likely to have a good hand.
Should you split sevens in blackjack? The answer depends on the card the dealer shows.
When the dealer shows a card from two to seven, the best strategy is to split your pair of sevens. And when the dealer shows an eight or higher, the best strategy is hitting your hard 14.
Remember, the best play in blackjack is always the play returning the most profit over time. And whether you split a pair of sevens or not is based on the same thing.