Playing 7-7 vs. 7 in Blackjack

Here's the situation:

You're sitting in a multiple deck game, with doubling down after split (DDAS) allowed. You are dealt a pair of sevens and the dealer is showing a seven. What do you do now, in what would appear to be a tough decision?

Asking that is not an invalid question, because you're not exactly hitting the jackpot by being in a situation where you can split sevens. The chances are obviously slimmer that a strong hand can be made with a starting point of 7, as opposed to having eight, nine, or ten as a value.

Standing with this hand is out of the question; you bring home 74% losers that way. So you essentially have two choices here. They involve either treating the sevens as a hard total of 14, and hitting that two-card hand, as per the Basic Strategy, or splitting your sevens up, with the practical expectation that at least one of them is going to result in a push with the dealer. Let's take a look at both of these scenarios:

  • Hitting a hard 14 (7,7) against the dealer's upcard of seven looms as a losing proposition. You're going to get beat about 63% of the time in this situation.
  • Executing a split of the sevens actually cuts your losses down dramatically (only 45.5%), because of one key element - the fact that you're going to wind up pushing with the dealer on 17% of your hands.

When you can win more and lose less than the alternative, you're facing a play which is a no-brainer. So go ahead and split the sevens.

US vs. THEM Blackjack Strategy Series
An Analysis
By Charles Jay

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