Whether you’re playing real money blackjack online or offline, every hand matters. Each card dealt has the power to bring you a fortune, but how you play them ultimately determines whether your hand succeeds or loses. Among the myriad of decisions a player must make, knowing what to do with pairs is one of the trickiest, particularly if the dealer has a strong upcard. One pair that often makes players hesitant and unsure how to play blackjack is when they’re dealt a pair of 4s. Despite the seemingly innocuous nature of this combo, it should still be approached carefully and strategically.

In this easy guide, we’ll be covering the important things to consider when playing a pair of 4s in blackjack, equipping you with the knowledge to make informed decisions and maximize your chances of winning if you ever find yourself with them in a game.

Applying a Basic Strategy

When curating a blackjack strategy, it’s first worth thinking about the probabilities associated with a pair of fours. It may seem like a mediocre hand with little potential at first, but a closer reveals it’s actually not as bad as most people think. One of the most favorable aspects of this hand is the fact that there is a 0% chance that you’ll bust with your next hit, even if you have the highest value cards, i.e. ten, J, Q, K, or A. The most you can get with a pair of 4’s is 19, which is a very decent total. Nevertheless, if you choose to split or double down, these moves can alter the course of the game and increase the risk as a result –  more on that later.  

Understanding the Odds and Knowing When to Hit

When faced with a pair of 4s, basic strategy and an understanding of the odds provides clear guidelines on how to proceed. The standard approach in this scenario is to treat the pair of 4s as a total of 8 and follow the basic strategy for hard totals. According to basic strategy, when you have a total of 8, the recommended course of action is to hit if the dealer’s upcard is a 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, or Ace, and to stand if the dealer’s upcard is a 5 or 6.

It’s advised to stand on the dealer’s 5 or 6 because the dealer must hit on totals of 16 or less and stand on totals of 17 or more. Since the dealer’s upcard is a low value (5 or 6), they will need to draw at least one more card to reach a total of 17 or higher. Depending on the number of decks in play, the probability of the dealer busting on a 5 or 6 is between 40% and 45%, which is significantly higher than the other cards. 


While basic strategy advises against splitting a pair of 4s, there are certain scenarios where deviating from this can actually be advantageous. One such situation is when the dealer’s upcard is weak (2 through 6). By splitting the pair of 4s, you increase your chances of building stronger hands, particularly if you receive favorable cards like 5s, 6s, or Aces. However, it’s essential to consider the overall dynamics of the game and your risk tolerance before opting for this strategy. Splitting a pair of 4s carries inherent risks, as you’re essentially doubling your initial wager and committing to multiple hands.

Doubling Down

Doubling down with a pair of 4s is a rare and unconventional move in blackjack. However, in certain circumstances, it can be a calculated risk that pays off handsomely. Again, this is best performed when the dealer’s upcard is weak (2 through 6), and you believe that drawing one additional card will improve your hand significantly. Doubling down allows you to double your initial wager and receive only one more card. If that card happens to be a 2 through 5, it puts you in a favorable position to win the hand. However, caution is advised when considering this option, as doubling down with a pair of 4s is risky and should only be done when the conditions are highly favorable for the player.

Adapting to the Situation

In blackjack, adaptability is key to success. While basic strategy provides a solid framework for decision-making, it’s essential to remain flexible and adjust your approach based on the specific circumstances of each hand. When playing a pair of 4s, consider factors such as the dealer’s upcard, what’s already been dealt from the deck, and your position at the table. By staying vigilant and making informed decisions, you can tilt the odds in your favor and emerge victorious in the long run.

Practice Makes Perfect

As with any skill-based casino game, mastering the art of playing a pair of 4s in blackjack requires practice and experience. Take advantage of online blackjack simulators, blackjack cheat sheets, mobile apps, or games with friends to hone your skills and refine your strategy. You can also play online blackjack and demo mode right here at Planet 7 to help you get familiar with the rules and dynamics of the game without risking money. 

You should also pay close attention to how different decisions impact the outcome of each hand and learn from your successes and failures. Over time, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of the game and become more confident in your ability to play a pair of 4s effectively.

Wrapping Up

Playing a pair of 4s in blackjack demands careful consideration and strategic thinking. By familiarizing yourself with basic strategy, understanding the odds, and remaining adaptable, you can navigate through this challenging hand with confidence. Whether you choose to hit, stand, split, or double down, always think carefully about your decisions and opt for moves that maximize your chances of success. Best of luck!

Janae Johnson is a staff writer who loves old movies, meeting new people, exploring the great outdoors, and learning with her hands. After graduating from the College of William and Mary, she applied her degree in English to an ever-expanding industry. She has spent years searching for thrills and fulfillment in her work, until she finally found her home at Planet 7.