When is the right time to surrender in a game of blackjack?

Blackjack holds great appeal to casino fans as it comes with one of the most favorable house edges. The thing with the game is this though: to get the house edge down as low as possible, you need to brush up on the skills and strategies that exist. One way that you can look at reducing the house edge is to master the art of surrendering. Let´s learn when to surrender in Blackjack. 

When considering early and late surrender, when implement properly, it can significantly have a dramatic impact on the house edge. It can really give players the upper hand and turn the game around. Surrender has lost a little of its popularity but you can still find it in land-based casinos. Where you are most likely to come across it is in online casinos though.

So, what exactly is surrender? How can it help and when should you do it? Let’s take a look.

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To surrender in Blackjack

What is meant by surrender in blackjack?

Surrender, in blackjack, is an optional rule that can be applied to the game. It allows you to give up half of your bet amount as soon as you’ve seen your first two cards, as well as the dealer-up card. When you’ve looked at these cards and it turns out that you have less than a 50/50 chance of a win, it may be the ideal time to consider surrender.

There are two surrender rules that you’ll need to know about. These are known as early surrender and late surrender. We’re going to be taking a look at both of these types, but in reality, early surrender is hard to come across these days. When you do find it, it’s often the case that it’s been watered down by other rule changes and has lost some of its usefulness.

To surrender in Blackjack – A look at early surrender 

Early surrender, as the name may suggest, is an option that comes into play earlier in the game. It allows you to surrender half of your bet at the point before the dealer checks the hole card. The effect on the house edge, when using early surrender, is huge. It means that players can give up half of their bet on bad hands vs a dealer’s ace-up card.

As we’ve said, you’ll struggle to find early surrender being offered at land-based casinos. You’ll certainly have more luck by turning online. When you do find an online casino offering this, just make sure that you’re thorough when it comes to checking the Blackjack rules: it’s quite likely that these will have been tweaked to turn things back in the favour of the house. Assuming that the rules all seem okay, here’s when you’ll want to surrender:

  • Surrender 14, 15, or 16 when the dealer’s up card is 10
  • If the dealer has an ace as the up card you need to surrender hard 5,6,7 as well as 12,13,14,16, and 17
  • When the dealer hits soft 17 you need to surrender hard 4

To surrender in blackjack – A look at late surrender 

What makes late surrender different to early surrender is the time that you actually surrender. In this case, players can only forfeit their hand, and sacrifice half of their bet, after the dealer has checked their hand for blackjack.

With this option, the effectiveness of the surrender is greatly reduced. It falls within the realms of 0.05 to 0.1 %.  Now that may not seem like a major issue, but what if you’re playing a 6 deck shoe and there are loose house rules? In this case, the edge drops from 0.42% to 0.35%. This means that used optimally, late surrender can have around a 20% impact.

As you can see, late surrender is another one of those tools that players can use to bring down that house edge. You’ll easily be able to spot when late surrender is available if you’re playing at online casinos. However, when playing at land-based casinos, it’s almost kept hidden. The only way to find out of it’s offered is to approach the dealer and ask. 

Something else to bear in mind is that the hand signal for surrender can vary from casino to casino. Usually, you draw a horizontal line behind your bet. This is done with your index finger at the same time as verbally announcing surrender. While this is the common method, just check that this applies at your chosen casino.

Late surrender at a glance

With late surrender far easier to find than early, it’s worth providing a summary to ensure that you’re getting the best from this rule. So, let’s dive in:

  • When the dealer has a 9 up, you only surrender when you’re dealt a 16 and when the game is using at least four decks
  • If the dealer is showing a 10, always surrender on 16 and, if it’s a single deck game, you also need to surrender on 15
  • With an ace, your action depends on whether the house hits soft 17 or stands
  • Assuming that they stand on all 17s, you always surrender 16 regardless of the number of decks
  • If they hit soft 17 always surrender 15, 16, and 17 no matter the number of decks

What’s meant by total dependant and composition dependant?

What we have looked at so far is based on ‘total dependant’. What this means is that you’re only interested in the totals of your first two cards before you make a surrender decision. There are different rules to follow when it comes to ‘composition dependant’. This brings up around a dozen or more instances when you should act differently from how you would with ‘total dependant’ rules. Looking at these now is likely to create confusion, so, for now, it’s best to focus on the rules that we’ve covered so far.

Final thoughts

This summary of early and late surrender should help you to make the right decision when next playing blackjack. Mastering this aspect of the game can keep you playing longer, and winning more money.

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Blackjack Surrender