Although blackjack seems like a rather simple table game, it does have some rules that you should be familiar with to be able to correctly assess your next move. One such rule is the surrender option which can be found in two different variations in some blackjack games.
While many players find surrender very useful, others believe that this option should never be used. If you know how to take advantage of the surrender option, you have the chance to lower down the house edge. It is important, however, to be able to recognise when the surrender option is the best choice you can make.
Often players who are not willing to take risks prefer making use of the surrender option, even if this may not be the optimal move in some cases. On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have players who enjoy the thrill of taking risky moves. Such risk-lovers never make use of the surrender option, no matter what card the dealer is showing. Lastly, we have players who have put some time and effort into learning the Basic Blackjack Strategy and know when it is best to surrender and when they should avoid this option.
If you want to learn more about the surrender option and whether you should use it or not, we suggest you continue reading.
Blackjack Surrender Rule Explained
Some blackjack variations offer the surrender option that is available to use before any action is made by the player. After you are dealt your cards and check them, you can choose to surrender when the dealer’s upcard is revealed. If you decide to make use of the surrender option in blackjack, half of your bet will be collected by the house and the other half will be returned to you. No matter what the face-down card of the dealer is, the game is over.
This may not seem like a very suitable option as you simply stand and wait to see what the outcome is going to be. That being said, there are some scenarios when the surrender option can be much more preferable than playing when there is a huge chance to lose.
The best time to use the surrender option may be affected by the number of decks used in the game as well as the specific rules of the game. When we are discussing surrender in blackjack, we should make the differentiation between the two types of surrender that a blackjack variation may offer.
Whenever you play blackjack, you may have one of the two options:
- Early surrender
- Late surrender
Depending on the variation of the surrender rule the game is offering, the right time to make use of this option may differ. To be aware of the different specifics of early surrender and late surrender in blackjack, we suggest you continue reading.
Early Surrender Option in Blackjack
When you are looking into the specific rules of the blackjack game you have chosen to play, you might see a rule about an early surrender. If the blackjack variation you are playing offers this type of surrender option, you will have the chance to give up playing as soon as your cards are dealt. That means that the surrender option will be available before the dealer peeks for a blackjack.
Whenever the dealer’s face-up card is a ten or an Ace, before the dealer peeks for a blackjack, the early surrender allows players to give up their cards. Since early surrender gives players a bigger advantage, this option is not commonly seen in many blackjack variations. Having the opportunity to take an early surrender will boost the RTP by 0.39% if the dealer is showing an Ace. Meanwhile, the dealer revealing a ten will increase the RTP by 0.24% if an early surrender is possible.
While an early surrender may sound like a very fruitful option to use, you should also take a look at the rules of the game. Even if a blackjack game allows players to make use of early surrender, chances are, the house will somehow compensate for this option by implementing other rules such as the dealer always hitting on soft 17.
If the early surrender option is offered, when the dealer’s upcard is an Ace, you should make use of the surrender only under a few circumstances. These include the player holding:
- Hard 5, 6, or 7
- Hard 12 through 17
- A pair of 3s, 6s, 7s, or 8s
If the dealer’s upcard is a ten, you should make use of the early surrender only if you are holding:
- Hard 14, 15, or 16
- A pair of 7s
- A pair of 8s in a single-deck blackjack variant
Late Surrender in Blackjack
Late surrender is more common in many blackjack options, allowing players to give up their cards only after the dealer peeks for a blackjack when his upcard is a ten or an Ace. If the dealer is holding a blackjack, you will still lose your stake. However, if the dealer is not holding a blackjack, players who have taken late surrender will lose only half of their bet.
While late surrender is far less beneficial than early surrender, there are a few cases when you can consider making use of this option. When the dealer is showing an Ace or a ten, you may want to take late surrender if your hand totals 14, 15 or 16.
Despite the few cases when late surrender may be a good choice, there are several exceptions to the rule of using this feature when holding 14, 15, or 16. The number of decks used in the game or the dealer hitting on a soft 17 may change the strategy of the right timing for late surrender.
To further break down the different scenarios when a late surrender might be a good choice, we can take a look at the following gaming rules:
When the player is holding a total of 14
Late surrender may be taken in a single-deck blackjack game against a dealer’s 10. If you are holding a pair of 7s in a single-deck game and the dealer’s upcard is an Ace, you might want to take a late surrender if the dealer hits soft 17.
When the player is holding a total of 15
Late surrender can be taken against a dealer’s Ace if the dealer hits soft 17 and you are holding 9+6 or 10+5. No matter the number of decks, use late surrender against a dealer’s 10 if you are holding 9+6 or 10+5. Meanwhile, a game with four through eight decks, indicates players taking the surrender option on any total of 15 against a dealer’s 10 or Ace, provided the dealer hits soft 17.
When the player is holding a total of 16
In a single or double-deck blackjack variation, take surrender against any dealer’s 10 or Ace. In blackjack variations with more than four decks, players must surrender their 16 against any dealer’s 9, 10, or Ace. If doubling after split is not allowed, no matter the number of decks, surrender a pair of 8s against a dealer’s Ace.
When the player is holding a total of 17
When playing a single-deck blackjack variation, use late surrender on 10+7 against a dealer’s Ace when the dealer hits on soft 17. Also, surrender any total of 17 in any blackjack variation when the dealer holds an Ace and hits on soft 17.
Why Some Players Use Surrender in Blackjack
Even in the aforementioned scenarios that explain when surrendering your hands is your best option, you will still end up losing money. Even if giving up your cards is the ultimate decision, that will still cost you half of your wager. However, sometimes sacrificing half of your bet is better than losing the game in more than 25% of the cases.
As we mentioned earlier, some players would constantly surrender their hands out of sheer fear that they would lose the game. Meanwhile, others enjoy taking risks and would never make use of the surrender option. The truth is that players who know how to use optimal strategy will neither risk their money whenever there is a chance to lose less nor will they always take a riskier approach.
Once you learn the surrender rules that help you determine when giving up your hand is the best move you can make, you will be able to increase the game’s expected value in the long run. While some blackjack players believe that surrendering their hands is not worth it, the reason why some experts recommend taking advantage of the surrender option in the aforementioned cases is that the winning chance in those cases is less than 25%. With such a low rate of possible success, giving up your cards to minimise your losses is your best option.
Of course, as blackjack is a game of chance, after all, there is a possibility for the dealer going bust when showing a ten or an Ace. However, such an outcome is nothing more than a short-term variance, and the cases mentioned above can only cost you money in the long run.
Should You Use Surrender When You Play Blackjack?
If the blackjack variation you play offers a surrender option, you should use it, especially if you are allowed to use an early surrender. While we believe this option can greatly affect your blackjack gambling in the long run, it is important to know when giving up your wager is your best option in blackjack.
If you want to make your blackjack endeavours more rewarding, you might want to further explore and learn Advanced Basic Strategy. While the house edge when playing blackjack may reach somewhere around 5%, using the right type of strategy can help you reduce the house’s advantage to about 0.5%. That includes taking an early or late surrender whenever it is most suitable for your long-term play.
Early surrender is definitely the more advantageous option when you play blackjack and want to prevent further losses in some cases. However, this option is less common in blackjack variations both offline and online. Even if you are allowed to take an early surrender, the house may impose other blackjack rules to give itself a bigger edge over the player.
While early surrender may be the better option of the two, late surrender can also help you improve the expected return when playing blackjack. If you follow the surrender rules we have covered in this article, you will most definitely be able to sustain your bankroll for better upcoming rounds of play. The only time when surrendering is not of any help is when you are counting cards. As the value of the cards that have been dealt is of great importance when counting cards, surrendering your hand will not be of any real help for your wagering strategy.
In conclusion, we can say that surrender is a great option that you can use to improve the expected value of a blackjack game. That is, however, if you can recognize the right time to use early or late surrender and play only when the rules of the game are in your favour.