Surrender in Blackjack

The ever-so-popular casino classic, blackjack, has been a hot commodity in the gambling realm for a while now. While its rules are simple, blackjack is not the easiest game to master. However, it comes with numerous side bets, strategies, and moves that players can count on when things are not looking up.

This article will shed light on one of the least known and understood blackjack moves — the surrender rule. Read on and learn how this option allows both rookies and more experienced blackjack players to cut the house edge and gain an advantage over the dealer.

What Is Surrender in Blackjack?

surrendering in blackjack

As you may know, blackjack is a card game where gamblers play against the dealer or the house. The goal is to create a hand with a higher total than the dealer’s without exceeding 21. If one side goes over 21, they instantly lose or bust. 

You can come across some techniques to help you beat the dealer more consistently by reading other articles on our site such as this one. Nonetheless, we’ll go over the surrender rule — our hot topic for today.

This rule allows players to give up half of their bet after seeing their first hand and the dealer’s upcard. Blackjack players tend to surrender when they believe they have less than a 50% chance of winning. The surrender rule offers a remedy to a bad blackjack hand and potentially minimizes your losses.

There are two types of surrender rules available in blackjack — early and late surrender. Let’s dive in deeper.

Early Surrender

Early Surrender BlackjackThis type of surrender lets players forfeit their hand before the dealer checks the hole card for a natural blackjack.

  • Note: Early surrender requires players to give up on half their original bet. This tool can help lower the house advantage by 0.62% when used properly.

Unfortunately, casinos don’t offer early surrender often because it’s a rule that favors the players.

Those online gambling sites that have it on offer tend to have other rules to balance out the advantage the players might gain from early surrender. So, it’s best to check the house rules carefully when you see that early surrender is available.

Late Surrender

Late Surrender in BlackjackIn contrast to the previous option, late surrender allows players to forfeit their hand only after the dealer has checked their hand for blackjack. If the dealer’s hole card reveals a blackjack, you’ll lose your chance at late surrender and the whole wager.

On the other hand, if the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack, you can use the late surrender rule.

  • Note: Early surrender This type of surrender will also cost you half your original wager.

The late surrender rule cuts into the house advantage by 0.1% only. Even though this sounds insignificant compared to the other type, late surrender can lower the edge much more depending on the type of blackjack you’re playing. For instance, the house advantage can decrease more significantly in a 6-deck shoe blackjack game. So, it’s still an advantage worth going after.

Plus, you’re more likely to come across this version of the surrender rule when playing blackjack since it represents a smaller blow to the casino’s profits.

When Should I Make Use of the Surrender Rule?

Whether you should apply the surrender rule in a blackjack game depends on a number of factors. Don’t count on a magic formula that will guarantee you a win because blackjack is a game of chance. Still, we’ve created a basic guide concerning the surrender rule to help you get your footing.

Early Surrender in Blackjack Strategy

Take the early surrender option when: 

  • The dealer’s upcard is an ace, and you have a hard hand with a total between 5 and 7 or 12 and 17. The surrender rules give you an advantage against the ace card with any other card hard total apart from the ones between 8 and 11.
  • The dealer’s upcard is an ace, and you have a pair of 3s, 6s, 7s, or 8s. While these would be great to split in other situations, you should surrender when facing a hand as soft as an ace.
  • The dealer’s upcard is any 10-value card, and you have a hard total between 14 and 16. You’re very likely to lose with a hand like this — anything from 5 to 7 will make you bust. So, early surrender is your best choice here.
  • The dealer’s upcard is a 10-value card, and you have a pair of 7s or 8s. You should only surrender with a pair of 8s if you’re playing the single deck version of blackjack.

The early surrender option can improve the RTP of the game by 0.39% if the dealer shows an ace or 0.24% if they show a 10.

The early surrender option will not help your odds when:

  • The dealer’s upcard is any 10-value card and you have a 4 and a 10 or a 5 and a 9 hand in a single-deck blackjack game.
  • The dealer’s upcard is any 10-value card, and you have a 4 and a 10 in a double-deck blackjack game.
  • The dealer’s upcard is any 10-value card, and you hold a pair of 8s if the double bet is allowed after splitting in a single-deck blackjack game. You’ll have more chances to win if you split the 8s into two hands in this case.

Late Surrender in Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack late surrender should pay off in the following scenarios:

  • When the dealer’s upcard is an ace and you have a hand whose total is 15. Mind that some casinos’ house rules require the dealer to hit a soft 17 for you to take a late surrender in a situation like this.
  • When the dealer’s upcard is an ace or any 10-value card, and you hold a total of 16. You should follow this rule regardless of the rest of the blackjack house rules in the casino you’re playing.
  • When the dealer’s upcard is an ace, and you have a hand whose total is 17. This rule does not apply to the games where the dealer has to hit a soft 17.

Make sure to avoid the late surrender option when:

  • The dealer’s upcard is a 9, 10, or an ace, and your hand totals in 15 or 17. This rule only applies if the dealer stands on soft 17, too.
  • The dealer’s upcard is a 9, and your hand’s sum is 16. The late surrender makes you less likely to bust after a hit than the dealer.

Take into account that these rules may vary depending on the number of decks used in the game and the casino’s rules regarding the dealer’s soft 17.

Total-Dependent and Composition-Dependent Strategies

Blackjack surrender rule strategies depend on multiple elements, as we have mentioned. This is why we differentiate between the total-dependent and composition-dependent strategies. The former implies that you should decide to surrender based on the total of the cards in your hand. This strategy is what we have discussed in the previous section.

The composition-dependent strategy goes into more detail. It disregards the total of your hand and focuses more on the specific cards that construct that total. For example, the composition-dependent strategy favors a 9 and a 6 hand over an 8 and a 7 hand for purposes of surrender, even though they both total in 15. The reason is card-composition.

The strategy consists of plenty of rules like this one, so it can be overwhelming to wrap your head around. Plus, the gains are not huge. So, we would not recommend it to blackjack novices, although some seasoned players might find it useful. 

About the Author

Author Malik is one of the youngest members of our team and a relative newcomer to the gambling industry. His love for casino gambling came a few years ago when he got a job as a professional blackjack croupier at a local casino, while he also enjoys playing poker with his friends. Malik’s mission at CasinoUSA is to talk about the new casino sites on the block and tell you everything about their bonuses and promotions. His reviews go into the smallest of details so you can know what to expect from a given casino site before you start playing there.