When to Split Pairs
In most traditional poker games, players can typically play one hand at a time. However, players have the opportunity to split their poker hand up in certain instances. A poker hand may be split if the hand they are dealt is paired. A paired hand in poker requires the two dealt cards to be identical in terms of value and rank. A hand such as a pair of threes (3-3) is considered a pair. Likewise, two kings (K-K) are also considered a pair. A hand such as K-Q, however, would not be considered a pair. While it is true that the king and queen both possess the value of ten, the King and Queen cards are of different rank. Thus, they would not be considered a pair.
When you are dealt a pair in your poker hand, the hand may be played “as is” or it may be divided into separate hands. If the paired hand is played as is, then the total of the dealt cards are added together and it is played just like you play any other hand of poker. The pair of fours would be added together to give you a card count of eight.
Alternatively, you can split a hand and play them as two hands that are independent of one another. For example, suppose you are dealt a pair of eights and decide to split them. You inform the dealer that you wish to split your pair and you put a second bet into play. Each underlying bet backs a hand. The dealer gives each hand a card and the hands are played individually. It is possible to win both hands, lose both hands, or even win one or lose one. Alternatively, one or both split hands could result in a push.
When deciding whether to split or play your paired hand, one must consider the dealer’s up card as well as the sum total of the pair that you have been dealt. Pairs totaling twenty (any two tens or two matching face cards like J-J, Q-Q, or K-K) should never be split. Eights and aces should always be split, regardless of what the dealer shows. When a poker player is dealt a pair of twos, threes, sixes, sevens, or nines – the dealer’s up card is the determining factor in deciding whether to play as is or split the pair. If the dealer shows a two, three, four, five or six – then these pairs should be split and played as if they are two separate hands. However, if the dealer displays a seven, eight, nine, ten, face card, or an ace – the player should avoid splitting the pair and play the hand as is.