Blackjack surrender is a special rule that allows you to recover a part of your wager even if you lose the game. But knowing when to use it can be tough, even for pros. It won’t magically fix everything, but using it right can help you handle your money better. Read on to learn what this rule is, how it works, and when it’s a good idea to use it.
The Notion of Blackjack Surrender
This is an optional rule in some blackjack games, letting players end the round before completion. You do this when you know you can’t win against the dealer. In return, you get half of your bet back. For example, if you bet 100 units and surrender, you get 50 back immediately.
This approach should only be used if the dealer is considered to have a stronger hand. Surrender in blackjack is divided into two depending on the moment when you can use this option – early game and late one. Both give the same result, but only one will be available. So, if your game has the surrender option, you should first check whether it is “early” or “late”.
Surrendering in Early Game
Let’s recollect the general rules of blackjack first. They are the following:
- The dealer gives two cards to the player.
- He takes two for himself and leaves only one face up on the table. The other card remains face down and is called the “hole card”.
- Once the player makes his decision, the dealer shows the hole card and proceeds to follow the table rules for ending or continuing the game.
Early surrender is a unique option in blackjack that allows you to make a decision after receiving your cards and seeing the dealer’s up card. You can end the game immediately by surrendering, even before deciding whether to hit, stand, or take any other action. Think of it as “surrendering before the dealer reveals their hole card”.
Early blackjack surrender is infrequent because it reduces the house edge (i.e., the casino’s advantage over the player). Mathematically, there is a 0.63% decrease in average. This may seem like a low figure, but blackjack is a game where the house edge is around 1%, even under normal conditions.
The table below will help you identify when early surrender is most advantageous. You’ll see the dealer’s hand on the left side and the player’s hand – on the right. If your game involves one of these combinations, considering surrender is optimal.
|Dealer’s Up Card
|Hard 5 – 7
|Hard 12 – 17
|3, 6, 7, or 8 pair
|Hard 14 – 16
|7 or 8 pair
Surrendering in Late Game
This is a more common option. Here, you can surrender only after the dealer checks their hole card to see if they have a natural blackjack (reaching 21 points with their up card and hole card). If the dealer does indeed have blackjack, you’ll lose the game, and the surrender option is unavailable. However, if the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, you have a decision to end the game by surrendering or continuing playing.
Late surrendering isn’t as advantageous in terms of reducing the house edge. On average, it decreases by only 0.08%. This is significantly lower than the 0.39% reduction in early surrender, which explains why casinos prefer this variant.
The ideal situations for late surrender depend on various factors, including table rules (such as whether the dealer should stand on soft 17 in blackjack), the number of decks in play, and whether you base your strategy on the total value of your hand or the specific composition of your cards. In the tables below, you can see when to surrender based on total and composition options in a single-deck game where the dealer must stand on soft 17 blackjack.
|Total Dependent Scenario
|Composition Dependent Scenario
|15 (9+6 or 10+5)
|16 (9+7 or 10+6)
How to Do a Blackjack Surrender
To determine whether you can use early or late surrender in a blackjack game, check the rules provided on the table or paytable if you’re playing online blackjack. Here’s how to indicate your choice of surrender based on your playing environment:
- You can verbally indicate to the dealer that you want to use the surrender option. This is the most reliable way.
- You can indicate that you want to use this option with blackjack hand signals. The most common one is to draw a horizontal line on the betting box with your index finger. However, we strongly recommend that you communicate verbally with the dealer instead. There are no universally accepted blackjack hand signals, and the dealer may not understand what you are signalling.
If you are playing online blackjack, you will see a button called “surrender” on the interface; click on it. Note that it can only be displayed when the surrender option is available.
Using Total or Composition to Decide
Two systems are available to determine when surrender should be used:
- Total: The player decides based on the total point value of his first two cards.
- Composition: The total value of the cards is considered only in certain compositions. For example, 16 points obtained with 9+7 or 10+6 is different from 16 points obtained with 8+8.
It is impossible to say that one is a better choice than the other. Mathematically, the two have no real difference – this is a personal decision.
Advantages of Surrender in Blackjack
This strategic move applied in specific situations offers several pros:
- Helps reduce house edge
- You can recover half of your wager
- You can manage your bankroll more efficiently
Disadvantages of Surrender in Blackjack
Despite all the positives described above, certain cons should be considered:
- Learning to use it at the right moment and in the right way can be difficult
- Early surrender that gives the player a real advantage is uncommon
The Move Producing Results When Used Correctly
Surrender in blackjack can be advantageous if used correctly. It helps lower the casino’s advantage and lets you manage your money better. However, if you’re new to the game, misusing it can make you lose when you could have won. We suggest using surrender once you have some experience and only with specific card combinations.