Blackjack Surrender Explained

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Among the many questions I answer by email, blackjack surrender is a common topic. Because surrender is not offered at all casinos, and is rarely advertised or posted even when it is available, many beginning players don’t know much about it.

In this article, I’ll explain exactly what Surrender is, what the two variations are, and when you should utilize this option.

What is Surrender in Blackjack?

Surrender is a blackjack option that allows you to fold your hand and receive half your bet back.  Instead of playing out the hand, you can surrender and automatically lose half your bet.  Obviously this is an option that should only be used with really bad starting hands.

Surrender is not offered at all casinos, or even on all tables in the same casino.  It is rarely mentioned on any signs at the table, so you’ll generally have to ask the dealer if surrender is allowed.  If you decide to surrender some of your hands, be prepared for some odd looks from the other players.  Most players don’t even know what surrender is, and other players mistakenly think that it is always a bad choice.  Still another group of players seem to understand it may have value, but they have some aversion to using the option anyway.  Go figure.

How do I Surrender?

If you want to surrender a hand, you must do so as the very first action on the hand.  If you have already hit, doubled, or split, you won’t be allowed to surrender.  There are two different hand signals that are often used for this play.  The most common is to use your finger to draw a horizontal line behind your bet.  You can think of that motion as cutting off your bet. The other version is to hold up both hands, with your palms facing the dealer, as in “I give up.”  Because these hand signals are not universal, you should always tell the dealer verbally that you want to surrender.

What is the difference between Early Surrender and Late Surrender?

You may have noticed that our Blackjack Basic Strategy Engine offers three choices for the surrender rule: No Surrender, Early Surrender, and Late Surrender.

First, let me be very clear, especially for people generating strategies with the Strategy Engine…  Late Surrender is far more common.  Early Surrender is quite rare to find.  In fact it is found more often as a mistake by poorly trained dealers than as an intentional rule.  If you’re not sure which you need, you definitely want to choose Late Surrender for your strategies.  So what’s the difference?

The key here is what happens when the dealer has an Ace or Ten card up.  If you are allowed to surrender your hand before the dealer checks for blackjack, then that is “Early” surrender.  You can see why that would be far more valuable, as it offers a way to get out of a possible dealer blackjack losing only half your bet.

Late surrender is available only after the dealer has checked for blackjack and did not have it.  That’s the common rule.

What hands should I surrender?

Now that you know about surrender, don’t overdo it.  Some players surrender far more often than they should, costing themselves a lot of money.  Some people mistakenly assume that you should surrender any hand that you are more than 50% likely to lose.  That’s not correct.  In fact, a hand needs to lose more than 75% of the time to make surrender the correct decision.  (Winning 25% of the time and losing 75% of the time makes you lose half your bet on average.)

So, which initial hands should you surrender?

Here are the main ones:

If you are playing a game where the dealer hits soft 17, add these surrenders as well:

This particular advice is for six-deck games with late surrender.  For specific advice tailored to your exact game, use the Strategy Engine, or purchase one of our Blackjack Basic Strategy Cards.

What’s it worth?

The effect of surrender for an accurate basic strategy player is to reduce the house edge by somewhere between 0.07% and 0.09% depending on the other rules of the game.  If you are a $10 bettor, you should save about 50 cents an hour over the long run.  While this improvement is small, every little bit helps.  For a card counter, surrender is considerably more valuable for several reasons.  And, if you manage to find a rare game that offers early surrender, the improvement is about ten times larger, around 0.7%.

Hopefully your next session won’t have many hands you can surrender, but it’s nice to know when to raise the white flag.  Now, go win some money.

 


About the Author

Creator of Blackjackinfo.com, very few can rival Ken's experience and knowledge of blackjack. His blackjack resume includes winning numerous tournament winnings, making several TV appearances and authoring multiple books on blackjack tournament strategy. Discover more about Ken's background and how he got started here

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Charles
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Charles

Hello.
A local casino nearby has some odd rules in this regarding: 6D, S17, double any, re-split except As, double after split, no peak.
Surrender is allowed except against As since there is no peak by the dealer. I wonder how should I set the Basic Strategy Engine?. With early surrender or late?.

Thanks for ur answer… regards…

Radek
Guest

Does anybody know a casino in vegas which offers early surrender?
Did you try to irritate the dealer by saying “Surrender” after he has dealt and did it work as “Eary surrender”?
In Czech Republik in Europe there is surrender allowed but only against a dealers 10

Paul
Guest
Paul

Thanks
That was the main question. Whether or not you could surrender after you have already taken a hit.
I initially thought that’s what “late” surrender was.
But I know now that late surrender means after the dealer has checked his hole card when showing an ace.
The app I am using is 21-Pro. It keeps the count and keeps track of hands played using proper basic strategy.
Thanks again!

Paul
Guest
Paul

Hello. I have a question that I haven’t been able to find an answer too. Might be to obvious.

Scenario 6D H17 game
My first 2 cards are A6 vs 10. I hit and get a 9 and now I have a total of 16
So 16 vs 10. Now I should surrender correct?

In my practice apps it says I played it wrong but 16 vs 10 should be a surrender.
Does basic strategy not apply In this scenario?
Thanks very much for all the help
Paul

Dave
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Dave

Can u explain why its not a good strategy to surrender hard 15 vs Dealers A? (With S17 casino rule)

Ben Nelson
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Ben Nelson

Hi!
I’m guessing the increased benefit for card counters is due to the fact that surrendering when we’ve got a big bet on the table is going to save us proportionately more money (high count, larger bet). Are there any other variants that we need to be aware of?
Thanks again for the site and help
Ben

Dong
Guest
Dong

Some major casinos in Macau don’t allow surrender only when dealer has an Ace. There is no hole card. And they often remind player to take even money. What is the strategy for such rules if you have 8-8 or 7-7 when dealer has a 10? Thanks.

Paul
Guest
Paul

If you play a thousand hands, about how many will you surrender?

Jack
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Jack

I have found a card room that offers surrender after you have hit your hand. Meaning if you have a 9 against a dealer 10 and you hit a 7 you can surrender the hand at 16. How does this effect the odds in your favor and how beneficial is this?

fabio s.
Guest
fabio s.

Hi,

does anybody know in which casino in Europe the surrender option is available? I am planning a trip and I will opt for places which allow ES or LS.

Thanks for the help!

Jim B
Guest
Jim B

Forgive me as I’m a beginner. So when counting cards, the more negative the count, the more beneficial hitting the (7,8) would be since you seek the 5 and 6 from the other hard 15 combinations of the player.

Jim B
Guest
Jim B

I’ve seen suggestions that one should surrender a hard 15 to dealer 10, except when player’s 15 is (7,8). Is this true? If so, why?

MD
Guest
MD

Hi, I have question, I am lucky (or not ?!) to find a casino where I can surrender in a way that I cannot see either Early or Late type, it seems something in between: – European style, there is no peek – I cannot surrender when dealer has ace, but I can surrender when he has any 10s, anytime – I can surrender after split or double-down. – The cards are shuffled by CSM, so counting cards is impossible. And most importantly, when I play with minimum bet of 5$, if I surrender, they give me 3$ since they… Read more »

Frank Lu
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Frank Lu

Hi KenSmith
Thanks.

Frank Lu
Guest
Frank Lu

Hi
Thanks for all the informations.
In Asia, most casino use continuous shuffle machines. ( usually 5 or 6 decks). I am asking , is there any change in basic strategy as compare to 6 decks shoes?

Frank Lu
Guest
Frank Lu

Hi
Thanks for all information. In Asia, most casino use continuous shuffle machine , 5 or 6 decks. I am asking ,is there any change in basic strategy? ( compare to 6 deck shoes) .

Kelly
Guest
Kelly

I know it’s not something that would occur often, but there is another additional hand that’s a (late) surrender if the dealer hits soft 17: A pair of eights against an Ace.

(As a side-note, something clever I’ve inferred when comparing S17 vs. H17 strategy is there are no differences with upcards of 7-10 because it’s impossible for the dealer to reach a soft 17 in those cases – hence why all those additional H17 surrenders are against an Ace.)

Ron Rubin
Guest
Ron Rubin

Don’t believe you can get cruise costs comped. Haven’t tried it, but as you have to prepay…Cruise lines are also famously selfish about giving anything away

Ron Rubin
Guest
Ron Rubin

First, let me say that I always use this site to sharpen my skills before cruising/gambling. I’m well ahead of the game after the last 7 years…Thank You!

Second, I find that the last cruise I took…last month…I couldn’t count cards as they were constantly reshuffling the cards back into the machine. Pity, as I was a decent card counter! 8o))
Any suggestions?

Again…THANK YOU!!

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[…] Now take a look at the chart for the same game but with rules that allow Late Surrender. (If you’re not sure what Late Surrender is, see the post Blackjack Surrender Explained.) […]

Marshall Adler
Guest

You know I just want to say something, I’ve been using your training
and everything you offer us on this site for nearly 5 years and I couldn’t
be happier. Thank you so much for keeping this site up and running!

George Low
Guest
George Low

I know it is a rule that you must hit against a Dealers Ace when it is that he does not have a Blackjack even if the player has a double down hand, this I do not understand. I have been doubling down and most the time I have won. Can you explain.