BlackjackGuru's Blog

For Smart Women Only: Make Blackjack Pay

Your Blackjack hand: 9-9 pairs

Posted by blackjackguru on June 26, 2009

6 decks, S17, DAS, No Surrender, Peek, Estimated casino edge for these rules: 0.44 %
D=Double down, H=Hit, P=Split, S=Stand

Dealer Upcard
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
9,9 P P P P P S P P S S

You have a total of 18. However, you can make more money in the long run if you split 9-9 up to the dealer’s 9 except the 7. Stand on 10 and A as well, just to mention it.

By splitting you put more money on the table at a time when you have the advantage. Starting with two 9’s would result in very strong 19’s if you get two faces. Getting an Ace would be a lovely 20. Also if you get a 2 you will have a chance to double down.

However, when the dealer shows a 7 up, Basic Strategy is that you stand on your 18, because the dealer getting a 17 is a likely event.

Common Loser Mistakes:

  • Standing on 9-9 vs stiff dealer up-cards. When the dealer has a 2 through 6 up-card, any player who stands on his stiff total of 12 to 16 at your table when you have a 9-9 might become upset if you split your 9’s. He is worried that you may take away a precious high card that would “bust the dealer”. Do not worry about it. First, the Advantage Player always plays to her best individual advantage, and will split the 9’s whenever Basic Strategy calls for it. Second, no player, not even Advantage Players, can know with any certainty what cards will come next out of the shoe, nor what card is underneath the Dealer’s up-card. Third, if the other player loses, it is because they stood on a stiff hand and could only win if the dealer busted, not because you took two or more cards during your split. Call that to their attention if they raise a stink.

Did You Know..?

Even good players hesitate splitting 9-9 against a dealer’s 8 or 9. Here are the long-run expectations as a percent of total wagers placed:

  • 9-9 vs dealer’s 8: Splitting wins 21%, standing wins 10%
  • 9-9 vs dealer’s 9: Splitting loses 10%, standing loses 19%

So against the 8, it is about getting more money. Against the 9, it is about losing less money. Basic Strategy prevails. Split your 9’s against 8 and 9, and you will be among the best players in the casino.


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