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How to Play 99 Profitably

Never split face cards - this should be rather obvious for everyone. But what if you hold two nines instead? Then the optimal play is completely different story.

How well do you remember the strategy chart? You don't have to feel sorry if you can't remember every exact detail. But 99 is the hand which is often misplayed and this will most times lower your edge against the house.

This tutorial will include strategies and examples about how you should play 99 in different situations. It will be quite straightforward and easy to remember. But of course it also requires some balls (=bankroll) to play correctly in certain situations.

When Should You Split?#

The answer is quite simple: almost always. Although the value of the hand may feel decent as is, still most of the time the optimal play is to split them.

You must split against every dealer's card, except when the dealer is having either a face card or an ace. This is quite clear since even if you score 19 on both, you're still likely to lose with high probability. But this information may surprise you: never split against a seven.

Why not to split against a seven#

You're holding total of 18. There's a high chance that dealer will score 17. Hence your hand is a strong winner by default.

Gaining the Edge#

Besides face cards, there are three cards that help you gain proper edge against a dealer with a splitted nine:

  • Ace (solid 20)
  • Two (for doubling your 11)
  • Nine (for splitting it again)

If house rules does not allow you to double or re-split the hand you've already split then you're losing some edge. However, this won't affect on your decision for splitting nines.


You should always feel comfortable when splitting nines

Mathematically you should always feel comfortable when splitting nines. But you should also remember that blackjack is still a game of odds and surprises might - and will - happen. Especially, if you're playing the last place, other players might get annoyed when you split your hand. It's purely lack of knowledge. But for some reason random players compare that decision to be similar than splitting face cards. Just don't allow that to go under your skin, you're playing it by the book.


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